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Author: Subject: Marilyn Manson & Censorship

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[*] posted on 8-8-2003 at 01:19 PM
Marilyn Manson & Censorship

From The Buffalo News:

Funny thing about censorship. It goes by many names, wears many masks.
Behind all of these guises, however, lies one ineluctable truth: Whether you call it censorship, the act always involves a decision made by a person or a group of people who think they know more about what's good for you - or good for your children or good for society as a whole - than you do.

When Ozzfest hits Six Flags Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Monday, Marilyn Manson will be staying on the bus. And though the official line from Six Flags Darien Lake seems straightforward enough ("Contractual agreement gives us the right to restrict artists from performing in our concert venue. We decided to pass on the Marilyn Manson performance."), the implications are far more sinister than anything Manson has conjured up for his "Golden Age of Grotesque" tour. (It should be noted here that Manson has performed in Buffalo several times in recent years without incident.)

Since no one from Six Flags Darien Lake will offer any insight beyond this prepared statement, we may never know why the venue thinks it's OK for, say, Korn and Disturbed to perform but not Manson.

If the problem is song lyrics, for example, Manson is certainly no more offensive or potentially dangerous to his audience than either of the above-mentioned Ozzfest acts.

Take Korn's "Alone I Break," from its "Untouchables" album: "Shut me off/I'm ready/Heart stops, I stand alone/Can't be my own/I will make it go away/Can't be here no more/Seems this is the only way/I will soon be gone," sings Jonathan Davis, in what hardly falls into the "good advice for teenagers" department.

Disturbed's lyrics recall Manson without the irony or, frankly, the intelligence he consistently employs.

Check out that band's "Meaning of Life": "I wanna get psycho/Run, you little b----/I want your power glowing, juicy flowing, red hot, meaning of life/It's not enough to have a little taste/I want the whole damn thing now/Can you dig it?"

By comparison, Manson seems to be clearly superior in the lyric department, as a glance at his scribblings for the "Golden Age of Grotesque" track "The Bright Young Things" makes plain. "We'll be the worms in your apple pie/Fake abuse for our bios/Blacken our own eyes/The grass isn't greener on the other side/We set it on fire, and we have no reason why/We set fashion, not follow/Spit vitriol, not swallow," sings the "evil one."

Well, it must not be the lyrics that are the problem, then. Perhaps it's the stage show. Manson has been known to be vulgar and gross. In fact, he prides himself on it. It's part of his show, which is like some bizarre Weimar Republic version of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, with a touch of social criticism and tongue-in-cheek performance art thrown into the equation.

Manson definitely isn't for preadolescent children. But is anyone on the Ozzfest bill? I wasn't planning on taking my 3-year-old, though it must be said, he has a much better sense of humor than most adults I know, and he'd probably get a big kick out of Manson.

Since the ambiguous Six Flags Darien Lake party line leaves us to fill in the blanks, we'll have to assume that, since the Darien Lake venue is an amusement park that is more often than not filled with preteens, the Manson issue boils down to something along the lines of "not acceptable entertainment for children."

Fair enough. But why single Manson out? Is Korn's angst-metal any more appropriate for children? Or Ozzy's lovable acid-casualty persona?

Heck, should anyone be sending their children to this thing unattended anyway? Wouldn't the choice have been better left to parents?

Back in the mid-'80s, when the Parents Music Resource Center was making noise about the naughty-naughty bits buried in the lyrics of mainstream artists including Madonna, Sheena Easton and Prince, and screaming from the grooves of silly heavy metal songs by the likes of WASP and others, Frank Zappa addressed a committee that included then-Sen. Al Gore, whose wife, Tipper, was a PMRC founder.

Zappa's words, though specific to the times in question, have a certain resonance regarding this murky Manson incident.

"Children in the vulnerable age bracket have a natural love for music," Zappa told the committee, assembled to decide whether "explicit content" warning labels should be legislated, or not. "If as a parent you believe they should be exposed to something more uplifting than (Sheena Easton's) "Sugar Walls,' support music appreciation programs in schools. Why have you not considered your child's need for consumer information? Music appreciation costs very little compared to sports expenditures. Your children have a right to know that something besides pop music exists. . . .

"There are too many things that look like hidden agendas with (the PMRC agenda). And I am a parent. I have four children. . . . I want them to grow up in a country where they can think what they want to think, be what they want to be, and not what somebody's wife or somebody in government wants them to be."

That's something that Manson fans and nonfans alike should agree on.

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[*] posted on 8-8-2003 at 04:21 PM

The fact that Six Flags doesn't want Manson on the bill doesn't come as a surprise to the shock rocker. In a previous interview, he said that he's not exactly the darling of concert venues and sponsors. "It's always difficult to find a building to let us play in," Manson said. "All the building owners don't want to deal with Marilyn Manson or their stockholders will protest, there's always that. It comes down to everything. A hotel is hard to get. People don't want anything to do with me."

Marilyn Manson came up against something similar in 1997 when venues in New Jersey and Louisiana refused to let him perform his OzzFest set. He threatened legal action against the venues, who eventually gave in and let him play.

Manson and his management were in Europe and couldn't be reached for comment. His publicist and the OzzFest spokespeople also couldn't be reached for comment at press time.

Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence
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