Antichrist Superstar: 20th Anniversary Reflections

“When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you… (incomprehensible mumbling) Let all the children say ‘We hate love. We love hate’….”

Antichrist Superstar was released on October 8th 1996. I had been a Marilyn Manson fanatic since seeing them and Jim Rose Circus open for Nine Inch Nails in 1994 at Battelle Hall in Columbus Ohio (a show that got NIN banned from the venue after fans dismantled and removed all seating on the main floor to create a mosh pit). By the time Antichrist came out I had seen Marilyn Manson 5 times. The last time I saw them was at The Newport in Columbus Ohio right after its release. When The Beautiful People was released as its first single on September 8th 1996 we got a look at what the next phase of our Satanic art messiah looked like. It was a look that drove Antichrist Superstar to debut at no. 3 On Billboard and Rolling Stone magazine to declare the grunge era over. We were ready for theatrics and ceremony in our rock again. Years of boys playing coy on stage in thrift clothing begged for an aggressively made-up shock-showman rebuttal. Nirvana heralded the end of hair metal, and then Manson brought back the metal, make up, and lingerie in a genuinely disturbing, visceral, and unglamorous fashion that poked a scabbed finger in the eye of both grunge and hair metal. It whipped us into an inspired deviant ecstasy. Beyond the aesthetics of shock the concepts behind the album and band were as empowering to a young Satanist as Lucifer himself handing you the worm-eaten windfall apple of discord.

partially the story of how a theocratic fascistic society creates its own devil and reflection. The Adversary, a consistently Satanic theme and story.
Antichrist Superstar is partially the story of how a theocratic fascistic society creates its own devil and reflection. The Adversary, a consistently Satanic theme and story.

The rock opera is part of a trilogy that was later revealed to be the conclusion released in reverse order. The story is about a boy who becomes a worm, chrysalises into a filthy, scarred, and hateful angel, takes the mantle of anti-Messiah, and then the anti-God. Presumably in the process destroying or dismantling the society that destroyed the boy and made him a worm in the first place. An ouroboros consuming itself along with the world it is coiled around.

(then I got my wings and I never even knew it,
When I was a worm, thought I couldn’t get through it)

because today is black
Because there is no turning back.
Because your lies have watered me
I have become the strongest weed

Here awesome of my favorite performances and tracks from the album… with commentary. Prick your finger the time has come. The moon has now eclipsed the sun. The angel has spread its wings. The time has come for bitter things…

The Beautiful People, released a month in advance of the album. We waited with bated breath for the release of this new song and video, making sure we were in front of MTV when it debuted. Marilyn’s grotesquely regal entrance and spoken intro to the MTV video music awards performance in 97 perfectly perfectly encapsulates this song;

“My fellow Americans, we will no longer be oppressed by the fascism of Christianity, and we will no longer be oppressed by the fascism of beauty. Cause I see you all sittin’ out there trying your hardest not to be ugly, trying your hardest not to fit in, trying your hardest to earn your way into heaven… but let me ask you, do you wanna be in a place thats filled with a bunch of ASSHOLES?”

me either.

Speaking of assholes we’d rather not accompany in heaven, Im pretty sure one of the ones protesting (a concert, FFS) in this clip of Angel With The Scabbed Wings is the “God Warrior” woman who went on to the infamous episode of trading spouses where she gets unhinged about the pagan/new-age family she stays with. You can tell from her accent and space in her teeth even though they concealed her identity. Enjoy the vintage hyperbole in this clip… different decade, same shit.

“He will deflower the freshest crop, dry up all the wombs with his rock n roll sores…”

The title track video was never officially released. Apparently they shot it and the record company was horrified enough at the cinematography to bury it. Manson also was not sure it conveyed the proper criticism of the subject matter. It was leaked to YouTube a few years ago. It features Nazi rally footage and tearing apart a bible at a podium, which became and remains the live performance depiction of the song. It contains a similar observation of an earlier assertion from Portrait of an American Family; You cannot sedate all the things you hate. Satanists acknowledge that as long as there is tyranny and oppression our kind will always grow within the culture around us to be the adversary and counterbalance our society deserves.

“Time has come it is quite clear our Antichrist is almost here… cut the head off, grows back hard. I am the hydra. Now you’ll see your star.”

“I went to god just to see, and I was looking at me
Saw heaven and hell were lies
When I’m god everyone dies…”

The quintessential gnosis of an awakening Satanist. That “God” is just a disingenuous approximation of the individual or groups desires and idealized character, and that there is power in removing the fictional middle man. In this case a deeply scarred individual who would remove everything and everyone who ever created or contributed to the oppression that forged him.

“shoot here and the world gets smaller. Each thing I show you is a piece of my death
Shoot shoot shoot motherfucker
No salvation, no forgiveness
This is beyond your experience”

Man That You Fear was inspired by Manson’s experience of growing up as an outsider and how the reactions of people around him towards his awkward nature made him embrace is identity as Other. I’ve written before about how I believe Satanists to be created (not born) in reaction to their surroundings. I’m not sure thats the best expression of our experience. It is more like we are a special kind of metal that is forged and hammered by the same tools used for iron, but to an obviously different effect and quality. We had the inclinations and predilections already, and otherwise pedestrian exposure wired us differently as an outcome.tumblr_m65us8kcjl1qi2fjlo1_500

In the two decades since its release Antichrist Superstar and Marilyn Manson have deeply influenced (usually without credit) rock and pop music in sometimes obvious ways. Often however, those of us who watched the performances and developments in the early years can only spot the influence from experience. It’s in a dozen bands that sprouted up like bad caricatures of Manson. Its in the performance, videos (see Y Control), and facial expressions of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Its in the now standard success formula of remaking a vintage song from the 80s. Costumes and make up in movie and stage production, even hip hop videos are soaked with a dark glam that Manson normalized.

and have you ever seen a Lady GaGa video?

Lest you think I’m stretching just search YouTube for “Manson GaGa” or “is ___ a copy of Marilyn Manson” and enjoy dozens of examples. Know your cultural art, its influence/influences, and all of its permutations.

Ave.

“When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.”