Marilyn Manson's icky torture porn

The singer's new video is a snuff fantasy starring an Evan Rachel Wood look-alike. Does it go too far?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published November 9, 2009 7:10PM (EST)

Remember Marylin Manson, that relic of Clinton-era shock rock, better known these days as Evan Rachel Wood’s ex-boyfriend? The man born Brian Hugh Warner must be really desperate for attention these days, because he’s managed to put together a music video so offensive and misogynist it makes "Smack My Bitch Up" and "Stan" look like promos for the Oxygen network.

“Running to the Edge of the World,” which Manson released on his Web site days ago, revolves around the ever-popular snuff-movie theme. The singer sets up a video camera, and the first several excruciatingly slow minutes feature the 40-year-old clenching his fists, looking mopey and singing about “destruct-shuu-uuuuuuuuun.” But as Manson croons, “Sometimes hate is not enough," the camera pans over to a frightened, locked-up Evan Rachel Wood look-alike in her underwear and Manson beating her, repeatedly, in the face. I counted 10 distinct blows. But wait, there’s more. He also grabs her by her bra, thereby giving her an opportunity to run her hands all over her naked, bloodstained breasts. The clip ends -- spoiler! -- on her limp body, bloody panties around her knees. Also, spoiler -- the song itself sucks.

Gee whiz, was it so long ago that Manson was frolicking with the real Wood in semi-clad, plasma-drenched bliss? Guess something had to change after Manson told Spin earlier this year that “I have fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer.”

Manson may be about as relevant today as a VHS of "Dawson’s Creek" and a bicep full of tribal tattoos. And paying his loathsome shtick any notice might be construed as giving him exactly what he wants. But the fact that anybody would be hungry enough for controversy that he’d create this grim little six and a half minute bit of torture porn doesn’t make the final product any less revolting.

You can make meaningful songs about sex and death. Exhibit A: Eighty percent of the blues canon. You can create interesting videos that dance around themes of violence. And it may be healthier to fantasize about pummeling your girl than actually doing it.  But in Manson’s black-gloved hands, it’s not artistic expression; it’s not thought-provoking music. It's not outrageous and envelope-pushing. It's a cynical exploitation of abuse served up as entertainment. And it’s just gross.


By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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