Marilyn Manson And Censorship Issus Essay, Research Paper
“Society has traditionally always tried to find scapegoats for it’s problems. Well, here I am. – Marilyn Manson”Marilyn Manson is a bit of a challenge to peoples intelligence; it’s almost a little bit of a science project to see how far I can push you, and see exactly what kind of a reaction I can get.” – Marilyn Manson”If I could just get them to want an answer, then they’ll find it out on their own. I don’t have any answer for them. There is a distinct lack of leadership idols, icons, and superstars for kids to identify with.” -Marilyn Manson Marilyn Manson who derives his name from a paradoxical blend of pop imagery, has set the stage in our country for another intense debate regarding censorship and First Amendment issues. In the last few years, Manson has endured numerous courtroom battles, protests, and harsh criticism from his detractors due to his flamboyant and controversial image. And that is exactly what he wants (and some would argue what he needs). The 29 year old rocker from Canton, Ohio has come full circle in our media dominated society. One of the main objectives of the band was to address the issue of being raised in and often times by popular culture. “I watch a lot of talk shows”, he says, “and I was struck by how they lumped together Hollywood starlets with serial killers, just bringing everything to the same sensational level ..It’s part of the barrage of mass media contradictions kids are fed 24 hours a day on TV.”(Schulman,5) Now, instead of being a mere idle onlooker to these contradictions, Manson has begun to create them. In a time period in which it is growing ever harder to shock a largely desensitized audience, Manson has filled a void in our culture, and has left his mark on pop culture. “I’m going to do my best to go to every city because people have the right if they want to see the show.”-Marilyn Manson “It may be more trouble for me, but in the end the result is that people have questioned morality on many different levels. They’ve questioned censorship. They’ve questioned music. And I think that’s a good thing.’- Marilyn Manson”America showed us all this sex, violence and rock and roll. Now they want to take it all back.”-Marilyn Manson Manson has faced tremendous obstacles at almost every step that he has taken in the past few years. His CD’s have been rejected for sale by many of the nations top distributors of music including, Target, K-Mart, and Wal-mart, even though his albums have dominated the Billboard charts over the past 3 years. When he tours, he is inevitably met with a barrage of protesters, and faces court battles routinely just to be given the right to play in a venue. In addition, he has been accused of promoting suicide and violence in his lyrics, and has faced several legal battles stemming from these charges, one of which was brought before the U.S. Senate. Whether you hate him or love him, you must concede to the fact that Manson has been the key crusader for freedom of speech and censorship issues in the 1990’s. Due to his viewpoints and controversial performances, he has been challenged in courtrooms far too many times to list in this paper. Some key examples however can offer a glimpse into the basic rights at stake to us all as American’s. To date, the band has encountered major protests and opposition to their performances in Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and a good deal of Canada, to name just a few locales. Yet Manson continues to persist in challenging every single obstacle put in front of him. The group has drawn harsh opposition from political forces in particular. They have been banished from Salt Lake City for ripping pages from the Book of Mormon on stage. Mayor Larry E. Chavis of Richmond even offered the band money to stay away from his city, and State Senator Mark McDaniel physically protested outside of a Manson concert in North Carolina. Other’s have used the media as an outlet to attack Manson. Bob Smithhouser, a member of Focus on the Family called Manson a “Pied Piper driving a wedge between parents and teens.” Some detractors have not been as lenient. Joseph Lieberman, a prominent Senator from Connecticut called Manson ” the sickest group ever promoted by a mainstream record company.” Pat Robertson claims that Manson “incites people to murder, to rape.” Several religious and conservative watchdog groups have also accused Manson of killing animals, raping people, and using drugs onstage.(Strauss,13)
Many of these oppositions have ended up in court to try and stop Manson from performing, however Manson has consistently challenged and defeated the bulk of these cases. In addition to legal problems in regard to the right to play a live performance, Manson has been accused of using lyrics which promote suicide and violence. Raymond Kuntz testified before the U.S. Senate: “I’d say the lyrics of this song contributed directly to my son’s death.” He later stated that “I failed to recognize that my son was holding a hand grenade, and it was live, and it was going off in his mind.” (Cox,A3)The ACLU, however, defended Manson, and charged that “Congress is determined to expand the role of government in family decisions.” Some key forces of opposition to Manson have been groups associated with religious fundamentalists and some parents groups. To name but a few, the Parents Music Resource Center(PMRC), a group which has been instrumental in calling for the labeling of music with themes related to sexuality, drug use, violence, suicide, and the occult, has sought to censor Manson. The PMRC is also the group which after years of pressure ultimately forced the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to submit to a uniform labeling system in 1990. Manson has also received scathing criticism from the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, and numerous other organizations, and individuals. According to a statement posted by the ACLU on their website, “the real intentions of the would be music censors is to impose on all Americans the tastes and values of political powerbrokers who don’t connect with the experiences and concerns of the young, the alienated and minorities.”We’re just a name. The taboos of society give us the power.”- Marilyn Manson” if you don’t raise your kids, people like us are going to. We’re a true product of America and it’s environment.”- Marilyn Manson”He signifies freedom He’s showing the world that it’s OK to be yourself even if some people don’t agree to it.”-Manson fan In a time in which are society is growing more and more uniform it is absolutely essential that we have someone who is willing to make sacrifices for the rest of us and shake things up, at the very least for the sake of protecting our rights as American’s. As pop culture grows and desensitization and shock value decrease, Marilyn Manson presents the only possible route to the preservation of liberty in our country. Although many people may find Manson a difficult person to support, as Kent Willis, executive director of Virginia ACLU stated after Manson was allowed to play a concert by a Richmond area court, “whether or not we like Marilyn Manson’s music or agree with their lyrics, we should all be celebrating this victory for the First Amendment.”
Cox News Service, Man Links suicide of son to “shock rock” music; St. Louis Dispatch,Five Star lift ed., p. A3, News section, Fri. Nov. 7, 1997Schulman, Sandra, Marilyn Manson, A Band with attention, The Buffalo News, City ed., p.5,Entertainment section Thurs.,Aug. 25,1994, Strauss, Neil, Critic’s Notebook: A Bogey Band to Scare Parents with, New York Times, sec.1,p.13, col.1, cultural desk, May 17 1997www.aclu.org
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