I think that there may be no celebrity more deserving of some internet hatin' than Marilyn Manson. Let's discuss...
First, there's his "music". The first blip on my radar was when he covered the Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). Now, we all loved the song when Annie Lennox sang it, but Marilyn Manson totally ruined it. I've seen an interview in which he attempted to justify what he did by saying something like "oh everyone was just dancing to the song, but I thought it said something profound about how effed up relationship can be and I wanted to draw attention to that." He did that by making his version a lot more growly and screechy and by looking totally freaky in the video and riding a pig (blarg, I just rewatched it). I think you're all with me when I say that I didn't need Manson's version to point out to me what the song was talking about, e.g. how some people are users and some people let themselves be used. Maybe the original was more subtle: the catchy tune and dance beat might have obscured the lyrics' message a little, but it was there for you to pick up on and think about. On the other hand, Manson hits you over the head with it. I think that this (besides the fact that I just don't care for his type of music which tends to stray towards goth, hard rock and metal) is part of my problem with him: I think I'm more likely to ponder a song's message when its implicit or coupled with a good tune, but Manson makes things very explicit so it sort of insults your intelligence.
But, eh, what do I know. I can only think of a few other songs by Manson that I've actually listened to. I remember seeing the video for this song the Beautiful People which (like most of his original music, I would venture to say) did not have a memorable tune and featured more of the same "white-trash horror show" theatrics. And I vaguely remember when he did that whole AntiChrist Superstar thing which combined clear allusions to Satanism with some pretty Naziesque imagery (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this video – 10 seconds will suffice.). I guess he was trying to make a bold statement about religion and fascism (clearly anti-religion, not so sure about the fascism), but it reminds me of how I think that most people who call themselves satanists are really just out to shock the squares and/or get back at their parents for something.
Before we move on, however, I have to admit that I do actually enjoy the video for Manson's Dope Show. The song is somewhat catchy/ memorable, it makes a(n again pretty obvious) statement about celebrity culture, and for some reason I am oddly fascinated with the whole androgenous supermodel thing he has going on. So ok, props for that one video.
Then there's the inexplicable fact that Manson somehow gets all these hot women. First there was the "black Irish" beauty Rose McGowan. Skanky? Perhaps (I direct you to Nicole's recent post which discusses her homewrecking ways). But I don't care what anyone says, I still think she's hot. Also she wasn't bad in that Jawbreakers movie that was almost like a rip-off of Heathers. And remember when Manson got her to accompany him to the MTV Movie Awards in 1998 wearing that scandalous hint of a dress? Based on nothing, I want to say that the dress was his idea. Oh yeah, I almost forgot how when she was a young girl her family was involved in that Children of God cult (so was River Phoenix who said he was sexually abused at the age of 4). Wow.
After Rose, Manson married Dita Von Teese the neo-burlesque star and Bettie Page lookalike. I always thought that Dita was beautiful and that the whole burlesque revival scene which she helped spawn was very cool, but then I found out how she has a 22-inch waist (which she can restrict to 16 inches when corsetted). Fuh-reak-ee!
Apparently Dita divorced Manson because he was partying a lot AND he was getting friendly with another woman. This would be Evan Rachel Wood, an actress and a blonde. I was about to say I haven't seen anything that she's in, but she played Natalie in that bad movie they made out of Running with Scissors. Oh god that was her!? Also she's going to be in the Woody Allen movie that's coming out next year. Anyway, she was dating Manson for awhile before they broke up last month (November 2008).
So what do all these beautiful women see in Manson? Whether he's all decked out in freaky makeup or just half decked out in freaky makeup, he's kind of hideous. And I know about how we shouldn't assume his public persona corresponds to the man in private life, but I just do not see him being a good boyfriend/husband. I see him as being selfish and emotionally distant if not just straight up treating his ladies like dirt. Plus, did they all have to listen to his crappy music and pretend they liked it? And did they ever have trouble keeping creepy images from his videos out of their heads when they were "being intimate." So many questions...
The main factor motivating me to write this post was when I found out about the project Manson is working on now. He is directing and starring in a fantasy/horror movie called Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll! Oh no he di'n't! Manson also wrote the screenplay; here's the little synopsis of the plot:
A haunted writer in an isolated castle is tormented by sleepless nights and visions of a girl named Alice. He finds himself becoming a symptom of his own invention.
“Now all my nightmares know my name.”
He is Lewis Carroll. Terrified of what waits for him each night.
Blech! I love Lewis Carroll and his Alice books, and I really don't like the idea of Marilyn Manson making his life story into a bad horror movie (and starring in it!). Anyway, let's see what else we can find out about this impending sacrilege. First off, Evan Racel Wood is supposed to be in it playing like "dream Alice" (someone else plays real Alice). Et tu Tilda Swinton? And they're planning on filming a lot of it in Prague (I like Prague).
Manson says that he wants the movie to be a throwback to more atmospheric, psychological horror movies like the films of Hitchcock or Roman Polanski. So I guess this won't be Alice's Adventures in the House of 1000 Corpses then? Well that's something. And he wants to eschew computer special effects for a magician's illusionism and legerdemain.
Manson also makes it sound like he's been communicatng with the spirit of Charles Dodgson (1832-1898, the real name of Lewis Carroll) via some direct line he has. He tells us that Dodgson was a far more complex character than most people know. This is true: did you know that he stuttered, suffered from migraines which distorted his perception of objects, and occassionally had epileptic seizures? These all seem to be caused by a genetic neurological condition which ran in his family. Also, because of his position as a don at Christ Church College he became a deacon, but he never took the vow of priestly orders possibly because (as he wrote in his diaries) he viewed himself as a vile and worthless sinner. Moreover, Dodgson may have had more of an affinity for spiritualism than for Anglican orthodoxy. Still though, I think that Manson's assertion that Dodgson "was possibly one of the most divided souls living in his own hell" smacks of sensationalism. Sure, he lived his life as a lonely bachelor, he may have had a profound moral/religious crisis, and those migraines sure sound like they were no picnic: but a lot of people go through life with similar problems and a lot of people never find love. Incidentally many of us assume he was a sort of repressed pedophile, but more recent biographers have suggested that Dodgson may have had tawdry, physical affairs with adult women, the evidence of which was suppressed by his family (helping to create the impression that he wasn't interested in girls over the age of 14).
I would like to learn more about Dodgson and the dichotomy he might have felt between his upright life as a deacon and don who told nursery stories to little girls and his inner life and private desires, but I doubt that this horror movie directed by Marilyn Manson is going to be our big chance. I just hope he doesn't mistreat our girl Alice the way he did Rose and Dita.
I think they may have just started filming Phantasmagoria earlier this year. It's currently slated to come out sometime in 2010, but that's probably subject to change. In the meantime, I think I am way more excited about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie which is also supposed to come out in 2010! That movie will feature Burton's favorite leading man Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Burton's baby mama Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. I'm psyched about that, let's hope it is as good as Big Fish.
Images: Photo of Marilyn Manson and Rose McGowan taken outside 1998 MTV Movie Awards by Retna, Market Poster for Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll (more pics and info on Wild Bunch website).