The artist was Marilyn Manson, the well-thought out creation of Floridian Brian Warner, whose obsession with Alice Cooper would eventually end up getting the best of his alter ego when he decided to use it for himself in order to prove to everyone else he could build his own career.
From the get go, and for years since, Marilyn Manson was the center of controversy, upsetting, offending, and disturbing ears and families everywhere he went, successfully passing his work off as art before going underground, and at the same time, the world grew up and left him behind.
What Marilyn Manson brought to the rock music scene was theater that had a thought-provoking message on a widely accessible platform that could have changed the industry, but it never really did as one would be hard-pressed to find an even more accessible rebirth of that signature in music today.
But that’s what one would expect from albums and bands who earn the attention that only a few are privileged to, as Manson no longer has the influence he once had as a rock icon.
As a matter of fact, he’s become more of a cartoon.
Very recently, Marilyn Manson made an appearance at the Marc Jacobs Goth show with other icons of popular culture, some you would expect to come with the scene, crossing over eccentric cult circles with their level of legendary status in the underground, such as Kembra Phaber of The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black or Genesis P-Orridge of Psychic TV, to highly accessible mainstream icons like Courtney Love of Hole and Kendall Jenner.
Marilyn Manson has certainly drawn his own audience — which may be borrowed from others — but if the show were spun as which of them made the biggest impression now, it would have easily gone to everyone but Manson.
Years ago, all it took was the rising popularity of Hot Topic chains in American malls for Marilyn Manson to pander to an audience. Only the censored versions of his albums were played before he would do a cover of Danny Elfman track from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas for him to bury his reputation and his career in pinstripes, just like Beetlejuice.
The transition might have happened when there was a four-year gap between 2003’s The Golden Age Of The Grotesque which had everything you could ever want in a Marilyn Manson album, to 2007’s Eat Me, Drink Me which could have worked out as it was certainly another pivotal moment in going solo, but he didn’t step into it as well, and it was not enough to make him relevant and not what the world needed.
Since the transition between 1994’s Portrait Of An American Family and 1996’s Anti-Christ Superstar, the world was shocked to realize just how deep his insight was into his subjects of interest, defending the message in his controversial image and showing that there was more than the shock factor and the massive intake of drugs.
Surely at that point, fans had someone they could get behind, an actual thinking man whether they understood his insight or not.
That’s not the Marilyn Manson we’re getting much of these days as everything is pretty much sealed off, uninspired, and perhaps by design, inaccessible.
While Marilyn Manson has still been making albums, they’re a huge drop from where they used to be, and there have been rumors of various projects over the years that could stimulate some excitement again.
Now at 47 years of age, Marilyn Manson could make a huge comeback at the half-a-century mark to tell us the fate of the world and reinventing himself with banners and all.
There’s no doubt that Marilyn Manson is an artist, but we need to see him make some art again.
[Image by Dorothea Mueller/Keystone/AP Photo]