photo & text by nacrowe
FLORIDA-based INDUSTRIAL METAL outfit MARILYN MANSON's TRENT REZNOR-produced second album ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR (NOTHING, 1996) was undoubtedly a huge record for me back in middle school. the record is arty and heavy and absolutely wallows in NEGATIVITY, SELF-ANNIHILATION and all things DEBASED and DEBAUCHED. it pretty much hit the bullseye for how i felt as a seventh grader during my second year living in NIGERIA. as ive written about before at length, that first experience of living under a military dictatorship (yes, there have been more since) made me painfully aware of the INEQUITY, INJUSTICE, INHUMANITY and the unambiguous bald BRUTALITY that comes with living under such conditions.
there was also just the realities of being an INSECURE teenager. ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR just felt like the crystallization of that despondent feeling of having no hope bordering on outright NIHILISM that i felt as a teenager. unrepentantly blistering tracks like "IRRESPONSIBLE HATE ANTHEM," "1996," "THE REFLECTING GOD" and "ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR" had a sense of psychic catharsis, as if all this pent-up PAIN, SELF-HATRED and INSECURITY could be somehow projected outward and burned onto a CALLOUS, UNFORGIVING world. those songs just felt empowering to me. other tracks like "WORMBOY," "ANGEL WITH SCABBED WINGS," "CRYPTORCHID," "MAN THAT YOU FEAR" and "TOURNIQUET" were very much pointed inward, showcasing an evolved inner UGLINESS as if viewing one's SCARRED, HOLLOWED-OUT PSYCHE through a carnival mirror. going through puberty and just generally feeling physically INSECURE and VULNERABLE about myself (in a foreign country to boot) was very much coming to terms with an evolving IDENTITY. in so many ways, my sense of IDENTITY is shaped by my interactions overseas as a perennial foreigner and OUTSIDER to the point that coming home stateside was equally ALIENATING. in fact, being on foreign soil became my default setting after a few iterations of this cycle of picking up and relocating, sometimes planned and sometimes sporadically.
it goes without saying that "THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE" is a highlight of the ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR album as it perfectly distills that odd sense SUPERIORITY and ALIENATION that comes with not being part of a CROWD. in fact, that crowd may be a DISTORTED, self-generating NEGATIVE influence in and of itself. think of RELIGIOUS GROUPS and POLITICAL PARTIES that purport to promote COMMUNITY but instead lay the foundations of DIVISION and FEAR in our body politic. that song just feels like a celebration of the INDIVIDUAL, flawed and all, standing up to the mass forces that wish to SUBJUGATE and COERCE. feels as relevant now, or even more so, then when it came out in the 1990s.
i am painfully aware of the charges made against MANSON at the moment and i want to stress my support for the victims of crime. its hard to reconcile the fact that the same person that empowered me as a teenager is the same MONSTER that potentially groomed young women for decades. i dont know how to make sense of that information. i even tried on a very early episode of DEER GOD RADIO entitled GOOD MUSIC BY BAD PEOPLE to address that conflict of attempting to celebrate music by morally and criminally stained people. i dont know what to believe regarding the case against MANSON but my default is to support the victims. the situation feels like a TOXIC cycle that needs to be broken and hopefully his example will affect the choices of men moving forward. or at the very least serve as a cautionary example.
ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR is a major achievement and i definitely think it is still worth checking out. MANSON himself is another matter entirely.