Last night, Marilyn Manson played the Ozzfest Meets Knotfest festival in San Bernardino, California. This was Manson’s big return to the stage after being injured a few weeks ago in New York; he accidentally pulled a gigantic stage-prop gun down on himself and broke his leg in two places. In San Bernardino, Manson performed in a wheelchair, while wearing a hospital gown. But he wasn’t done with stage-prop guns. As TMZ reports, Manson pointed a fake assault rifle at the audience during “We Know Where You Fucking Live.”
The fake-gun stunt was clearly planned long in advance of last night’s show; it did, after all, have a microphone built into it. But Manson pointed that gun at the audience mere hours after a mass shooter killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And San Bernardino was itself the site of a mass shooting that left 14 people dead less than two years ago. You can see footage of Manson pulling this bullshit below.
Not long ago, Manson claimed in an interview that Columbine had “destroyed [his] entire career” at the time. And while Manson was the focus of some unfair press hysteria after the Columbine massacre, it’s deeply shitty to be playing around with this mass-shooting iconography today, when this bullshit is worse than it’s ever been. Manson’s whole shock-value schtick has crossed over into stupidity plenty of times, but I can’t think of a single point when it got stupider than this.
UPDATE: Manson has issued a statement defending his actions at the show, calling it “an act of theater in an attempt to make a statement.” Here’s the statement in full:
In an era where mass shootings have become a nearly daily occurrence this was an act of theater in an attempt to make a statement about how easily accessible semi-automatic weapons are and how seeing them has become normalized. My art has always been a reaction to popular culture and my way to make people think about the horrible things that happen in this world. My performance was not meant to be disrespectful or show any insensitivity. The prop microphone I used on stage was handed to me with the approval of a police officer. My empathy goes out to anyone who has been affected by the irresponsible and reprehensible misuse of REAL guns.