Someone should give Guardian journalist Alexis Petridis a cup of tea for making it through his interview with Marilyn Manson. I’d call it predictably bizarre, but honestly that’s a complete oxymoron in this case.
Marilyn Manson is clearly intelligent, and he likes to experiment both musically and socially. He is also quite deliberately terrifying, as Petridis found out first-hand in an interview.
The interview is an interesting read, examining a microcosm of celebrity, anarchy, and individuality like Marilyn Manson can’t fail to be original. This tag-line enough was plenty to pique Twitter’s collective interest, garnering over 400 re-tweets so far. Thee encounter with the rock star did not disappoint.
This is excellent. Sounds like a (mildly terrifying) hoot.
— Daniel Dylan Wray (@DanielDylanWray) September 21, 2017
Petridis escaped unscathed, and constructed a fascinating piece of journalism after being flicked in the genitals and having a fake gun (although he wasn’t to know it was fake) pointed at his head. It becomes clear over the course of the interview that Manson has a sense of humour about his rock persona. His farewell line to the journalist, “I’ll find out where you fucking live” is clearly self-satirising, echoing a song in his new album Heaven Upside Down. But this joking oscillates between dark humour and straight up harassment.
It’s fair enough to say a journalist preparing to interview Manson should be ready to be shocked, perhaps even offended. Manson’s pushing of societal sensitivities is part of his musical style, so a certain amount of shock is inevitable.
But flicking a journalist’s genitals and pointing a fake firearm at him isn’t just pushing boundaries, it’s physical intimidation. Inflicting pain and fear for the sake of it isn’t breaking any meaningful taboo, it’s not exposing any societal boundary, and it’s not original. In fact I can think of nothing more re-hashed than the exploitation of fame and/or notoriety to intimidate others. Petridis may be able to stomach such displays, but that’s a testament to his nerve rather than Manson’s self-cultivation.
That being said the interview is certainly worth a read, as the beauty of it lies not in Manson’s efforts to discomfit the journalist, but in Petridis’ account of the musician. Interviews normally try to get to the heart of something or someone, but this option isn’t really open to Petridis as Manson is a very carefully (and intelligently) constructed bundle of contradictions. The journalist manages to pick apart some of the hysteria surrounding the star as well, allegations that he’s the antichrist etc.
So a big well done to Alexis Petridis for a difficult and thoughtful interview, and maybe the Guardian will buy him a cup for his next one.