Thursday, November 15

Marilyn Manson strikes out against conventional


By Nisha Gopalan

Not since the Revolting Cocks’ "Beers, Steers & Queers -
Drop Your Britches Mix" has a band so provocatively incorporated
the subject of sodomy into a song – until now. Enter Florida’s
Marilyn Manson.

Marilyn Manson, the group, manipulates voice textures and
bizarre soundbites to add to the disturbing tone of their heavy
metalesque album, "Portrait of an American Family."

"I am the god of fuck," drones lead singer Manson in "Cake and
Sodomy," as a woman’s voice in the background repeatedly chants,
"white trash." Within the song, Manson manages to cover all the
talk-show favorites – a "red-neck-burn-out-mid-west-mind," "libido
fascination," "oral defecation" and "VCRs and vaseline."

The very name of the band represents an extreme – the contrast
between the glamorous Marilyn Monroe and the criminally notorious
Charles Manson. Each band member – guitarist Daisy Berkowitz,
bassist Twiggy Ramirez, multi-instrumentalist Madonna Wayne Gacy,
drummer Sara Lee Lucas and lead vocalist/lyricist Mr. Manson -
incorporates the names of glamour figures and criminals into his
name. The band remains serious enough about its philosophy that
these created names endure off stage.

"It’s a two-edged sword," says Manson, sounding over the
telephone vaguely like Arnold Schwarzenegger, minus the accent.
"Marilyn Manson is fueled by sensationalism and it fuels
sensationalism. I’m making a mockery of sensationalism."

Manson points out the irony in "the fact that society wants to
reject it (sensationalism) and be offended by it when it has
created it."

Shedding light upon the larger picture, the band embraces
paradox.

"I hate what I have become to escape what I hated being," sings
Manson in "Organ Grinder."

"I’m a living contradiction," says Manson. "I thrive off of that
extreme – the positive and negative extreme, the male and female
extreme, the kindness and violence extreme."

Manson cites the Hegelian dialect to illustrate his point: "It’s
the juxtaposition of two diametrically opposed archetypes. And
that’s what Marilyn Manson really is, taking those two extremes and
putting them together to come up with this gray area that
transcends, for me, morality, sexuality. It gives you the freedom
to go in any direction you want."

Manson’s intrigue toward children’s films inspired the album’s
first track, entitled, "Prelude (the Family Trip)" – Manson
reciting the tune sung by Willy Wonka during the boat ride in
"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

"When you’re a kid, you’re fearless. You’re more of an
individual as a kid." Fittingly, a 6-year old, Robert Pierce, sings
on the album.

"When we originally wrote that song, ‘(My) Monkey,’ I tried to
make myself sound like a kid because it sounded like a nursery
rhyme. And I heard that kid singing it because his parents had our
demo tape. It sounded perfect to me. In the song, his voice and my
voice kind of melt together and you can’t tell which one is which.
I like that."

Manson, who attended a strict Christian school, lashes out
against adults masking reality with morality. "Morality is used to
control. Morality was designed to benefit the people who created
it, not the people who are controlled by it," says Manson, echoing
Nietzsche. "That’s why you have to create your own morality. But
with that, you have to be responsible."

In "Dogma," Manson shrieks, "Burn the witches, burn the witches,
don’t take time to sew your stitches," seemingly pointing his
finger at the atrocities morality can breed. "Goddamn your
righteous hand," he whispers at the beginning of "Get your Gunn."
According to Manson, hiding reality from kids sparks behavior like
suicide and murder.

"I think in America everyone’s always trying to protect you from
yourself," explains Manson. "I’m not saying to open the doors to a
kid and let him do what he wants. What I’m suggesting is just a
little more open, just a little more honesty and not using morals
all the time, using more reality and explaining to kids their
options in life."

Manson defends his lyrics from accusations that he advocates
racism, violence against women, murder and drug use. To Manson, his
lyrics simply reflect a brutally honest depiction of reality. In
truth, he neither advocates nor condemns actions.

In fact, Manson contends that "any woman who feels alienated can
relate to that (Marilyn Manson’s philosophy). Any person who
behaves sexually different than the norm can relate to that.
Anybody who is a different race that doesn’t fit in with the rest
of their city, or whatever, can relate to that."

"I don’t think we aim to offend. I think we aim to get a
reaction."

Marilyn Manson opens for Nine Inch Nails at the
Universal Amphitheater on Oct. 4, 6 and 7.

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