[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Thursday, April 22.]
Marilyn Manson had fans as young as 12 "under his control" in a Michigan arena
Wednesday, according to a state legislator who went to the show to research the
State Sen. Dale Shugars said he was surrounded by "very normal kids" who may still be
feeling the effects of the show and not even know it. "I think there's something going on
that you can't see from the outside," he said.
The concert at the 12,000-seat Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.,
took place in the wake of a horrific school shooting Tuesday in Littleton, Colo., that left 15 people dead,
including the two teenagers whom authorities say were the shooters.
Numerous press accounts of the massacre have suggested the two suspects'
fondness for gothic rock acts, including Manson (born Brian Warner) and
industrial group KMFDM, had some effect on their actions.
Shugars, a Republican from Kalamazoo, Mich., bought tickets to the show as part of the
research behind a bill that would require parental-warning notices on some concert
tickets and advertising. But afterward, he added his voice to those who have sought to
make a connection between certain rock 'n' rollers and the shootings that happened in
Colorado on Tuesday.
"We're having an alarming rate of killings in schools, and youth violence and an increase
in drugs," Shugars, the 46-year-old parent of one daughter, said Thursday (April 22). "I
would say that though they're not all to be blamed on a shock entertainer like Marilyn
Manson, I think he promotes it and can be part of the blame."
A Manson spokesperson said the rocker could not be reached for comment. But in a
written statement issued earlier Thursday, Manson called the shootings "tragic and
disgusting" and offered condolences to students and their families.
Wednesday's concert was Shugars' first Manson show, and likely his last.
"This whole thing is part of a drug-cultural type of thing, with a subculture of violence and
killing and hatred, and anti-family values, anti-traditional values, anti-authority," he said.
His bill would require parental warnings on concert tickets and advertising for any
performer who has released an album with a warning sticker within the previous five
He said Wednesday's show only underscored his commitment to making the bill law.
During the concert he saw, Shugars said, Manson had fans under his control as he
acted out a sequence that the senator said glorified the killing of a police officer.
One free-speech activist said the devotion of Manson's fans is not a
matter of being controlled by the singer.
"All that says is that he has a loyal fanbase," said Kenny Moore, vice president of Rock
Out Censorship. "They're really into the music."
Moore decried attempts to link Manson to the Colorado slaying as opportunistic. "Bodies
hadn't been pulled out of the school and people were saying, 'Music did it, music did it,' "
Like many concert-goers, Shugars arrived for the Manson show with a group of friends,
with tickets he'd paid for. His cadre, however, comprised not fans but policy advisers, a
local police officer and the state senate's sergeant-at-arms.
Seated in the back of the arena, earplugs in place, the group watched as Manson and
his namesake band played such songs as "The Beautiful People"
excerpt) from Antichrist Superstar (1996) and cuts from
last year's Mechanical Animals.
The show began with Manson wearing what the senator called "satanic wings" as the
singer leapt from a cross that was eventually set on fire.
Later, Shugars said, Manson recounted a dream sequence in which sex acts were
performed on him by police officers before Jesus Christ descended out of a sky made of
LSD and told him the real name of God is "Drugs." Manson then launched into "I Don't Like the Drugs
(But the Drugs Like Me)" (RealAudio
The fans around him "were very normal kids for the most part," Shugars said. "There was
a percentage that dressed very differently from the way you and I would dress, but most
of the kids acted very politely."
After the concert, they filed out of the hall in an orderly fashion, the senator said. But he
questioned whether the show was actually over after Manson stopped playing. He said
at least some of the kids could be affected emotionally by what they saw and heard long
after their ears have stopped ringing.
And that, in his view, is something parents need to be warned about.
"Minimally, we should at least put a notice to parents who are responsible for young
people to know that there's harmful types of lyrics that are being addressed at these
types of concerts," he said.
Shugars said he hopes his bill will be passed by the State Senate's Committee on Local,
Urban and State Affairs and put before the full Senate before summer. On Thursday
he addressed his colleagues in the Senate's chambers about what he'd seen at the
concert, hoping to draw support for the measure.
But such efforts only provoke performers such as Manson, who are promoting not
violence but rebellion, Moore said.
"They see the reaction they get from conservative groups and they're coming up with
things to spark controversy," he said. "The more people push for censorship, the more
bands say, 'Let's just see about that,' and they do more just to spite."