“We Know Where You Fucking Live”: A Marilyn Manson Review

Somehow, I’ve managed to manoeuvre myself in a position where watching Marilyn Manson videos counts as work. I’ve recently published an article on his back catalogue, and have been checking Manson-related news ever since to see how his new album was coming along. With a release date now confirmed (6 October, so less than a month to go) and a music video for “We Know Where You Fucking Live” released, it seems The God of Fuck is finally breaking the wall of silence he’s been hiding behind for months (save the occasional enigmatic Instagram post).

I watched the “We Know Where You Fucking Live” video as soon as it came out and became acutely aware that my perspective has shifted from fan to critic. I’ll always have a soft spot for Manson and whatever he releases, but contrary to the days where I would like everything he does automatically, I now look at his work with a bit more distance. Maybe I’m just getting older, but no matter how happy I am that the new record is finally happening, I couldn’t ignore a slight feeling of disappointment when I watched the video for the first time. Why?

The violence

I know, it sounds massively hypocritical coming from someone who’s writing a book on Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk. Why was I annoyed by the omnipresence of machine guns? Surely I can handle a bit of violence. And I didn’t feel the same revulsion when I watched the It trailer. Am I being squeamish?

Maybe it’s just a matter of realism. We all know that Pennywise doesn’t exist (he/she doesn’t. Don’t even go there). Ellis and Palahniuk discuss violence within stories that are overblown and insane. American Psycho is a message about violence, the violence serves a critical purpose, and though this knowledge doesn’t make the book any easier to stomach, it does make it meaningful.

In Manson’s case, I’m not so sure. Unfortunately we live in a world where world leaders now threaten each other with nuclear weapons. Only a few days ago someone tried to set off a bomb on the London underground and nearly killed dozens of people. With all the real-life violence going on, seeing fictional violence being depicted just for the hell of it makes me feel a bit tired. Surely you can do better than this, mate.

But but but…

There are some parts of the video that I do love. I was most stricken by its gritty, old-fashioned look. I’ve always loved the “Man That You Fear” video, which uses a similar colour scheme, I love films that swap CGI for shaky shots, and could easily watch the video over and over again because It Looks So Amazing. As does Mr Manson himself, by the way. Nice shirt.

I also love a good old bit of nunsploitation. Sure, this aspect will probably set some people off more than the violence does, but as a non-religious person I don’t find it particularly offensive (I totally admit  my own subjectivity here, but I’m writing a blog post, not a research paper). I do have some issues with the same old, same old depiction of women as sexy vixens (a tired cliché if there ever was one) but at least the nuns have some agency here, even if they use it for questionable purposes.

Oh, and there’s the song itself! I almost forgot.

It’s pretty good, actually. I really liked the acoustic, bluesy stuff The Pale Emperor offered, and it seems we won’t be getting much of that on this new album, which is a shame. But Manson sounds on top of his game: there’s some decent shouting going on, the punchy guitar work is back, as well as the familiar bleeps and ting-tings. So far, so good.

Despite my mixed feelings, I’ll definitely check out the new album, if only to see whether the slightly political angle of last year’s teaser is to be continued. For the time being, though, I’ll stick to my latest discovery and bring a bit of sunshine into this  dark, autumnal world.

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