Has Marilyn Manson’s concept of celebritarianism come to full realization? Celebrity worship, post postmortem glorification, and the celebration of violence are focal points of Marilyn Manson’s mock religion. We were first introduced to these concepts in the song “Post Human” from the band’s 1998 release Mechanical Animals, but Manson would go on to elaborate on the pseudo-religion in greater depth with his Y2K release Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). So, here we are nearly two decades later, and the shock rocker’s satire has aged like fine wine.
“Dear God, you were the king in the black limousine” – Marilyn Manson, “god eat god”
In the satirical world of Holy Wood, under celebritarianism, our political and spiritual leaders are celebrities. When those celebrities die, they become martyrs and patron saints. These tenets reflect the current state of affairs, especially in the United States. Our headlines are convoluted with personal details of famous actors, athletes, and musicians. Politicians are more likely to go viral because of their wardrobes and tweets rather than their policies and legislation. We line up (on our couches) and cheer on our favorite news anchors and politicians, unconcerned with principles and truth. No, we’re merely rooting for our favorite team to win; we want to see our favorite faces perform well. For heaven’s sake, we elected a reality TV star as the leader of the free world. And that’s just what our leaders have become – TV stars, celebrities. They are TV personalities we rally behind with shallow thought and catchy slogans, without any care for depth and intelligence. The ship may be sinking, but by god Katy Perry will be the captain.
“If they kill you on their TV, you’re a martyr and a lamb of god” – Marilyn Manson “Lamb of God”
Every week a celebrity dies, and when they do, their name and legacy is revitalized. “If your ratings drop and you’re forgotten” just die, then you’ll be “a martyr and a lamb of god.” One of Marilyn Manson’s favorite historical events to make this point with is the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
“The camera will make you God, That’s how Jack became sainted”
JFK was almost seen as a god-like figure or as the second coming of Jesus Christ. Upon his assassination, he became a martyr and a celebritarian saint. This is fundamental to the satirical religion, and we see this often today. When a big name passes away, they instantly become worshiped, even by people who may have not previously been followers. The concept does not only apply to Hollywood elites and politicians, though. If you have a message, make a big stir and then die suddenly. It’s the get-rich-quick scheme of publicity, and terrorist groups are using it as a marketing tool. A Christian extremist shoots up a Planned Parenthood clinic, an Islamic extremist blows up a subway station, people die, the event is on every front page for a week, the attacker is suddenly famous and his message finally heard. We go through this every single time there’s a mass killing.
“This is evolution, the monkey, the man, then the gun” – Marilyn Manson “Cruci-Fiction in Space”
We’ve always loved violence. That’s nothing new, and Marilyn Manson paraphrased modern society’s infatuation with violence perfectly: “Times have not become more violent, they have just become more televised.” Think of the last four viral videos you’ve seen on social media. I’d be willing to bet at least one of those videos contained graphic, violent imagery. There’s nothing the citizens of Holy Wood love more than a good ole fashioned decapitation or mass shooting caught on camera. We celebrate violence and publicize it at every given opportunity, but that isn’t the end of our romance with violent culture. We also love to fantasize about it. Whether a racist guy is displaying Obama hanging from a noose, or a washed up comedian is beheading Trump, today’s culture loves to envision violent acts. We have entire political groups promoting ideas of violent revolution against our governments, and others that are quite literally advocating for an aggressive police state. Ask your neighbors how to get rid of terrorism. A few of them are likely, whether directly or inadvertently, going to suggest genocide. No matter the issue, violence always seems to be our answer.
When Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) was written, Marilyn Manson was using the album to satirize the world as he saw it. In that time, there were separate issues being addressed, issues that I’m too young to recall. However, with our recent political discourse and our increasingly divided state of affairs, the album and its mock religion “Celebritarianism” continue to be entirely relevant, maybe now more than ever.
This is an incredibly abridged version of the depth and satire in Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). If you’re interested, I highly suggest you pick up the album and then visit www.NachtKabaarett.com to have your mind blown.
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