photo & text by nacrowe
i recently went about revisiting MARILYN MANSON's memoir THE LONG HARD ROAD OUT OF HELL (HARPERCOLLINS, 1998) that he co-wrote with NEIL STRAUSS during the early peak of his career post ANTI-CHRIST SUPERSTAR. it's funny how much this book is a product of its time with MANSON more or less self-defining his image in a pre-COLUMBINE media landscape that largely took his bait and made him into a scapegoat for society's ills.
this book came about a few years before his interview in MICHAEL MOORE's documentary BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE (UNITED ARTISTS, 2002) where MANSON presented himself as a thoughtful commentator on AMERICAN culture and society with respect to gun violence. he told MOORE that basically the media turned them into martyrs through their non-stop news coverage, providing incentive for future mass murderers. dude was totally on point and we are still dealing with this death spiral of bullying, media coverage and access to automatic weapons.
i would argue that he comes across as equally thoughtful in this book, if for other reasons as here he seems interested in familiar early career ROCK band fodder like infighting between ex-bandmates, record labels, rock journalists, groupies and a healthy amount of requisite self-mythologizing.
its odd thinking about all these ALTERNATIVE ROCK bands from the 90s that pushed back against society during the CLINTON administration (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE similarly comes to mind). where are these button-pushers now when we need them? or is it that the buttons they pressed no longer work in our overly-saturated social media landscape that trades and sells on outrage. maybe MANSON and his ilk (OZZY OSBOURNE, ALICE COOPER, etc) are anachronisms from another era when people cared enough to get angry and protest. that's what i kept thinking when recently rereading his memoir, which i recommend for its intelligence and debauchery. just like the man himself.
then again, i don't know what to believe anymore about his character. recently his former girlfriend EVAN RACHEL WOOD made public allegations that he "groomed" her as a teenager when he was in his mid 30s back in the late 2000s. another former girlfriend, ROSE MCGOWAN, has praised him for his steadfast support and outspokenness as a fervent ally of the #METOO movement.
so... yeah, i dont know.
maybe he is a monster after all. maybe he isnt. not sure who to believe here.