Marilyn Manson

“I am so all-American, I\'ll sell you suicide / I am totalitarian, I\'ve got abortions in my eyes / I hate the hater, I\'d rape the raper / I am not the animal who will not be himself.” These are lyrics from the song Irresponsible Hate Anthem by shock-rocker Marilyn Manson. Manson is one of the people most often blamed for the bad things in society: punk teenagers, young criminals, and tragedies such as the massacre at Columbine high school. But is Marilyn Manson really such a big influence? Why is he the only one people see as a role-model for today’s youth; aren’t groups such as Destiny’s Child, 50 Cent and Coldplay just as influential? Unfortunately, it seems that music today is used as a scapegoat in times of trouble, not to teach and inform as it so obviously could be.

In the search for ways that music has positively affected our culture and our generation, it is difficult to find any information or examples. Most people seem content to look only at the “dark side” of music. When one looks for “music influence” on the search engine Google, the first site listed is for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). This page lists the influences of music as “advocating and glamorizing abuse of drugs and alcohol, pictures and explicit lyrics presenting suicide as an ‘alternative’ or ‘solution’, graphic violence, rituals in concerts, sex which focuses on control, sadism, masochism, incest, children devaluing women, and violence toward women.” This seems like a pretty serious list of things for music to be promoting to today’s youth. The AACAP implies that “some rock and other kinds of music, including best-selling albums promoted by major recording companies” are basically doing the work of the devil by promoting these evils to teenagers.

While the AACAP is busy condemning the music industry, Marilyn Manson has something to say for himself. In an interview with filmmaker Michael Moore, Manson comments on the accusations he received after the Columbine massacre: “The two by-products of that whole tragedy were violence in entertainment, and gun control. And how perfect that those were the two things that we were going to talk about with the upcoming election. And also, then we forgot about Monica Lewinsky and we forgot about the fact that the President was shooting bombs overseas, yet I\'m a bad guy because I sing some rock-and-roll songs. And who\'s a bigger influence, the President or Marilyn Manson? I\'d like to think me, but I\'m going to go with the President.” Manson brings up a good point. Who, in reality, is a bigger influence on today’s youth: our political leaders or the music sent into the mainstream for consumption? The media chooses to portray artists such as Manson as bad influences, but conveniently leaves out details about musicians having influence on the good things that happen in society.

Music is everywhere. Just about every place you can think to look, you will find it. It is all the more sad, then, that so many people look at it as such a negative influence. Artists like Marilyn Manson are blamed for the deterioration of our moral values and for teenagers’ bad decisions. The media is very careful and picky in choosing its portrayal of these artists: they do not want to put give them any positive credit that might affect their negative images. While it can definitely be argued that some musicians are genuinely bad influences on the youth of today, it is interesting to ponder questions such as Manson’s: “who\'s a bigger influence, the President or Marilyn Manson?” That is for society to decide, but one would hope that some serious thought would go into answering such a seemingly simple question.