Monday, April 23, 2007

When Rollins met Manson

There are few more meetings of minds more finely matched than that of Henry Rollins and Marilyn Manson, respectively the late 1980s and late 1990s mainstream idea of what the counterculture looked like.

The appearance of Manson on The Henry Rollins Show is something of a treat for seasoned Manson watchers, as he touches on the aftermath of Columbine. Or, as Manson puts it:

After surviving Columbine I went over the hill of what you can tolerate because that was the worst.

We thought we'd heard quite a lot of the coverage of what happened in the Colorado high school that day; we hadn't realised that Brian had been there. Because surely he wouldn't use a phrase like "after surviving Columbine" to mean "after twisting in the wind to save my career", as suggesting that he somehow survived a mass murder is a little bit insulting to people like Marjorie Lindholm, who actually did survive the Columbine shootings.

Those of you with long memories will recall that after Columbine, the (admittedly ridiculous) claims that Manson somehow caused the slaughter presented him with a choice: he could either maintain the closest thing he could manage to a dignified silence - after all, his schtick was built around being an edgy suburban nightmare, and in the face of attacks from media looking for someone to blame, wading into the argument would only prolong the agonies. Or, he could wipe off his make-up and admit he was only playing.

Manson remembers the time like this:
Hollywood and people were giving me dirty looks like I did something wrong like, "What the fuck? What are you doing?" I just learned to deal with it. I had to move out of L.A. I moved to Chatsworth. I didn't do any press. I refused to.

Really? You didn't do any press and kept your counsel, did you, Marilyn?

We know Rolling Stone doesn't have quite the kudos it did thirty years ago, but writing a big 'don't blame me' piece hardly constitutes not doing press, even when it's full of protestations about how you're not doing any press.
It's interesting comparing the Rolling Stone piece and the Rollins interview - both show Manson's unquestionable skill at framing arguments and finding the right words (if only he set out to do something more than superserving Shopping Mall goths), both show Manson unable to resist a preen:
I have assumed the role of Antichrist; I am the Nineties voice of individuality [Rolling Stone]

f I got paid for every time someone came up to me in an airport or anywhere saying "I saw you in 'Bowling for Columbine'," the most common thing I get is, "I didn't know you're so intelligent." And I'm like, "I didn't know you're so fucking stupid but I don't know you, you know, so…" It's a backhanded compliment. [Rollins]

Did I mention that people think I'm clever?

Then, Manson reveals he thought he was going to die:
I came back to Denver for the first time since then where I was in Ozzfest at Mile High Stadium. We had hundreds, hundreds of death threats so I'm thinking, if I'm going to die it's going to be today because it's Mile High Stadium, they're not going to be able to stop it if someone wants to shoot so when I went onstage I just had to decide, I can't live without doing what I do so I have to accept the fact I'm going to die for it if its going to be today and…it was a great show. Obviously I didn't die.

We're not entirely sure why, simply because it was Mile High Stadium, it would make it impossible to stop an attempt on his life? Because at that altitude security doesn't work?

Is he really suggesting that someone who seriously believed he was responsible for Columbine, who seriously sent death threats, and who intended to extract a blood revenge would wait for Manson to come to them? "I thought you were going to kill Manson to avenge our son's death" "Yeah, but I've not had a chance - he ain't come nearer than Seattle on tour since..."

Or maybe Manson had in mind someone intent on revenge but who was a really poor traveller?

And is Manson trying to claim that all or most of the death threats came from Denver? Or only the plausible ones?

For a self-proclaimed smart guy, whenever Manson tries to cast himself at the centre of global dramas, he always winds up making himself sound more and more puffed-up. Trying to pretend that his life was at risk when he played an Ozzfest gig in Denver is as implausible as the claims of those who blamed him for the Columbine killings. It's a little sickening, though, to see him still enjoying living off the notoriety years later.


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