Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Johnny Depp, and Ace Frehley are all tremendously talented rock musicians, with decades of experience. Cooper, Manson, Depp, and Frehley have delved deeply into the surprising world of shock rock. What is shock rock about? Is it evil, or does it serve an important role in the human psyche?
Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley, former guitarist for KISS are currently on tour together as part of Alice Cooper’s Paranormal tour in Australia and New Zeland. Marilyn Manson will also return to his Heaven Upside Down tour after a serious accident on stage left Manson with a broken leg after a huge stage prop fell on Marilyn according to the Rolling Stone. Marilyn Manson had to cancel nine tour dates but will be back on the road November 5.
Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson’s recent music video for Marilyn’s song “Say 10” portrays some pretty heavy religious concepts, with both Christian and occult symbolism, coupled with sexual behavior. Like the 1976 Alice Cooper album, Alice Cooper Goes To Hell, Heaven Upside Down draws on spiritual and religious constructs. But, is there a real point to it? Is it art? Is it therapy for the audience?
Yes, Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, and other shock rockers are acting as therapists, in a way, when they shock or surprise an audience with symbols and behaviors that are incongruent with logical expectations. Jeremy Said explains in an article on the psychology of surprise.
“According to the Expectancy Violation Theory (EVT) of surprise, ‘violation’ happens when an individual person’s normative schema are breached, infringed, or transgressed. The response to such violations is surprise, and a potpourri of other possible emotional responses.”
Shock or surprise can make people happier, and more open to new ideas according to Jeremy Said. It not only provides an escape from reality as Alice Cooper always says of his performance, it also introduces the subconscious idea that change is possible and that tomorrow doesn’t have to be like today. Surprise suggests preconceptions need to be reexamined because it is possible things are not as they seem.
Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, and Johnny Depp give the audience cause to consider other ways of looking at situations. From the perspective of EVT, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson’s performances are a bit reminiscent of the old Monty Python “Confuse a Cat” sketch. Shock Rock is good for the mind. Suprise or shock stops the boredom, encourages a new outlook, and improves observation and free thinking.
Shock Rock has been highly controversial in the past and is still disdained in some religious circles. Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper performances can also be confusing to people who tend to take everything literally.
Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, and KISS, as well as the Doors, Ozzy Osbourne, and The Rolling Stones, were all considered extremely shocking in decades past. Ultimate Classic Rock reports that in 1972, Alice Cooper was taken off television in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati viewers were watching Alice Cooper on the premiere of In Concert when suddenly they found themselves viewing a re-run of Rawhide Instead of Alice Cooper. What the rest of the nation saw, was simply shocking in 1972.
Shock rock can also be dangerous. Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper have both been injured on stage before, in various stunts and accidents. Marilyn Manson recently got crushed by a huge stage prop and broke his leg.
Alice Cooper once stabbed himself in the leg with Errol Flynn’s sword according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
“I have this sword that I use onstage, it actually belonged to Errol Flynn … I’m pretty good with it. I look pretty good up there like that. I’m going to stick it in the stage and I stick it – through my leg. Right through my leg. And when you have that much adrenaline onstage, it hurts but it doesn’t hurt that much.”
So what does Alice Cooper do on stage with a sword in his leg?
“Now, the audience thinks it’s a trick because it’s a good illusion. The band knows it’s not a trick and they’re going [mimes gagging]. At the time I’m going, ‘Well, it’s in there. The audience is there. Leave it in for a while.”
Would Marilyn Manson and Johnny Depp do the same? Marilyn Manson has worked through some serious injuries as well. Alice Cooper explains what happened next.
After the show, Alice Cooper extracted the sword, borrowed a bottle of whiskey and poured it over his wound. All done. Yes, old-school rockers like Alice Cooper are tough.
While Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley are currently on tour in Australia and New Zealand, Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson made that shock rock video for Marilyn Manson’s new song “Say 10.” Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp are also busy writing songs for the new Hollywood Vampires album.
Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson have made long careers in shock rock. Ace Frehley, as the former guitarist of KISS certainly shocked people in his day as well. Perhaps the most shocking part for some is Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley are both born again Christians.
While Marilyn Manson has never claimed to be religious, he is Johnny Depp’s close friend, and they are nice guys in their private lives. Shock rock is about theater and includes symbolism, sometimes including spiritual and religious symbolism, as well as graphic violence and sexuality at times.
Just like Johnny Depp isn’t really Jack Sparrow, much less Sweeney Todd, it is important to remember Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper are stage names that describe stage personas. Ace Frehley as a member of KISS also portrayed someone other than himself. Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson are actors, portraying roles, as well as musicians telling a fictionalized story in song.
Johnny Depp helped out with Marilyn Manson’s shock rock video in which Johnny Depp portrayed God, opposing Marilyn Manson’s Satan or rather “Say 10.” There is a tremendous amount of shock rock symbolism in the latest Marilyn Manson video, but what does it all mean?
Marilyn Manson’s song title, spelled “Say 10,” as if one were afraid to spell out the name Satan, is there to make people think. Marilyn Manson and Johnny Depp are certainly not afraid to spell out Satan, so it all means something. This is no shallow anthem. It requires further study. According to Astro Vira, 10 is the answer to everything. 10 means completeness.
“The biblical meaning of number 10 is the completed course of time or completeness in divine order.”
So when Marilyn Manson says “So you say “God” and I say “Say 10,” Marilyn is juxtaposing some pretty heavy philosophy. Could Marilyn Manson be perhaps hinting at end time prophecy as in everything is completed? If 10 is all inclusive, is Manson referring to the entirety of the universe, as in everything becomes one thing?
If Marilyn Manson’s songs are confusing, it is because they are meant to be. “Say 10” is a riddle worthy of at least some contemplation, and not intended for one single definitive answer. It keeps the brain lively to consider it, and perhaps that is the point.
In the past, Christians have been quick to judge rockers like Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. Decades ago, Ace Frehley was often pressured to drop out of KISS and join a Christian band.
When it comes down to private lives, Alice Cooper has lived 41 years with the same wife according to Fox News. Alice Cooper is a family man, with high standards. Cooper has never cheated on his wife in four decades of marriage. That is something few evangelists could top in 2017. Alice Cooper explained his formula for a great marriage.
“You know what, we have never cheated on each other. First of all, marry the girl you are in love with. That’s the important thing. Don’t just marry the girl that you love.”
Alice Cooper is still in love with the same woman after 41 years. Marilyn Manson has displayed a fierce sense of right and wrong in the firing of Twiggy Ramirez, following rape accusations against Ramirez according to the Guardian. Twiggy had been Marilyn Manson’s bass player for 25 years.
“I have decided to part ways with Jeordie White as a member of Marilyn Manson. He will be replaced for the upcoming tour. I wish him well. This is a sad day.”
Johnny Depp, as an actor as well as an accomplished guitarist, perhaps has a better understanding than anyone of what it is to portray a role, and to present a performance, to bring forth a wellspring of thoughts, ideas, and feelings. In the end, it is all theater and music, almost like an opera. Shock rockers like Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson are performers playing a role.
So are Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Ace Frehley trying to sell their audience on some specific idea? Actually, no, their performance and music are pretty open-ended, leaving the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Many will speculate on the meaning of Marilyn Manson’s “Say 10,” and the video with Johnny Depp playing God. Some will say it’s blasphemous, others will say it is political, or psychological, or perhaps inspired by a nightmare.
Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Johnny Depp, and Ace Frehley have been misunderstood, but in the confusion perhaps the purpose of shock rock as therapy is best served.
[Featured Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images and Vadim Ghirda/AP Images]