‘Grotesque’ U.S. rocker squeezes past censors

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‘Grotesque’ U.S. rocker squeezes past censors

Marilyn Manson, the stage name of the shock rocker Brian Warner (and also the name of his band), arouses images of destruction, insanity, rage and Satan. So it may be surprising that Korea’s Media Rating Board, after rejecting him in the past, has approved an Oct. 4 Marilyn Manson concert in Seoul. But it didn’t happen without complications.
In 1999 and 2000, the band made three attempts to come here, but none of those efforts bore fruit; the rating board considered the group prone to “outrageous behavior.”
In the past, Marilyn Manson even wrote and submitted a statement to Korean authorities promising not to engage in five specific “outrageous behaviors,” such as sexual activity, but to no avail. This time he squeaked past the censors on the condition that only adults be allowed into his performance. Appending an R-rating to a concert is unprecedented in Korea’s popular music industry, according to officials.
What is it about Manson that offends so many people?
For starters, Manson uses androgyny, satanic images and themes of rebellion and death to irk people. He conveys a sacrilegious message through music, fashion, stage manner and music videos. One of his albums was titled “Antichrist Superstar.”
“We’re just helping out the Christians by bringing about the apocalypse,” Manson was once quoted as saying. “They can all go to heaven.”
Manson foments controversy among critics while at the same time generating a cult of loyal followers. The band’s lyrics are filled with curses and rants about the world. Onstage, Manson chants anti-Christian messages. His music videos are full of gruesome images.
The musician’s name was formed by combining the first name of the sex symbol Marilyn Monroe with the last name of the serial killer Charles Manson, which may hint at the identity the musician is after. It also suggests why the domestic Christian Practice Ethics Committee adamantly opposes his performance in Korea.
On the other hand, he is regarded as a talented artist by some. Manson’s music stands out with lyrics that call for rebellion against the establishment and experimental music that toys with popular melodies.
He once reportedly said, “Kids need to start thinking for themselves. Not to be like their friends that think they’re individuals. I don’t want you to be like us, I want you to be like you.”
“Even if one is not a Marilyn Manson fan, people are curious to check him out,” says Koh Jae-gwang, an employee of Access, the company responsible for organizing the concert, adding, “Most of the audience are likely to be in their 20s and 30s.”
Mr. Koh says Marilyn Manson’s fifth album, “Golden Age of Grotesque,” which came out in May, has a brighter tone than past albums, and this concert is also expected to have a less morose beat. A team of 30 people, handling special effects, choreography and dance, will join Manson for his performance at Seoul Olympic Park’s fencing stadium.


by Lee Eun-ju
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