What’s Sex Got To Do With… Marilyn Manson?

Binaries give society a very limited and concrete image of sexuality and gender-roles.  A binary is defined as having two parts, usually at opposite ends of an imaginary spectrum.  Most people in this society like to think of gender and sexuality in two opposite forms: male and female, masculine and feminine, heterosexual and homosexual. People who do not fit one binary make society uncomfortable.  Marilyn Manson, the freaky and some say satanic rock star makes people uncomfortable because he blurs the lines of binaries and stereotypes that society creates.

Some people call him gay, some call him transexual, and others call him a walking demon.  The crazy rocker definitely does not easily fit into a sexual category, and perhaps he wants it that way.  I feel that through his song lyrics and actions, Marilyn Manson is trying to show society that stereotypes and categories do not work.  He plays insanely loud rock ’n’ roll music and dates beautiful women which suggests his masculinity; yet, he enjoys dressing like a woman and performs sex acts with men on stage.

This rock ’n’ roll paradox applies to the interview with Mimi Schippers about heterosexual and masculine rocker stereotypes: “rock culture encourages people to go along with heterosexism”.  Like the alternatives bands mentioned in the interview, Manson moves away from this heterosexual hard-rocker stereotype through his actions and lyrics.

Here are some lyrics from the song “The Beautiful People”:

The beautiful people, the beautiful people

It’s all relative to the size of your steeple

You can’t see the forest for the trees

You can’t smell your own shit on your knees

There’s no time to discriminate,

Hate every motherfucker

That’s in your way

Manson is questioning what it means to be beautiful and criticizes any form of discrimination.  In the line “you can’t smell your own shit on your knees” Manson in addressing the hypocrites who judge and criticize others without seeing their own imperfections.  He is definitely calling out the haters and the people who see his blurred sexuality as inferior and sinful.  However, are these people actually protesting and hating Manson because of his unusual sexuality, or simply because of his sexual imagery in general?  If the sexual imagery in his videos and performances were limited to heterosexual imagery alone, would he still receive criticism to this extent?  Is the nature of some of his sexual acts just for show?  Obviously other factors such as his political views and explicit language contributes to the criticism, but his sexuality (tri-sexual: will try it with anyone) makes him controversial and hated by many.


One thought on “What’s Sex Got To Do With… Marilyn Manson?

  1. Manson is definitely a rule-breaker. I think society has almost discredited his artistry because of his ever-changing gender performance, resulting in his ever-changing sexual identity. As a whole, we are uncomfortable with those that fit outside of the norms we have created for ourselves. Although I would argue that Manson is a peculiar case because he is outside of the norms in a variety of ways. His constant use (or misuse) of religious imagery, homosexual acts, “drag” performances, overt bending of gender norms, are just a few of the ways he defies what society expects. It’s interesting to me, though, that (as you point out) he is a rockstar–which one would assume would allow for him to express his artistic self more freely. But, because certain facets of his artistic self are more culturally unnerving than others, he is not allowed to.

    Liked by 1 person

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