My heroes are dead (and so are yours)
Or “How I killed Marilyn Manson”
My first hero-worshipee was Marilyn Manson. The Antichrist Superstar the Pope of Dope the God of Fuck. The skinny white kid born in Canton, Ohio as Brian Hugh Warner.
For what now seems like too long of a time I saw Mr. Manson as the best man alive. He was the epitome of intuition, wit, and logic. He was right. So what changed?
Sure, I still listen to Mr. Manson’s music, I still own the t-shirts, I still agree with the idea of individualhappinessfortheindividual. But I became bored of his shadow.
I said “Bye dad!” and moved on.
It doesn’t mean I’m more mature than Mr. Manson. It doesn’t mean that his music and his dogma are only for those of a certain age. It’s about hero worship, and what that weird phrase really means for us as people, not ideas.
We’re drawn to those we see parts of ourselves in. It’s not the other way around. Hero worship is a personal projection. It’s a masturbatory experience.
I didn’t adore Marilyn Manson because I adored his black face or his sexism or his drug (ab)use. I was drawn to what I saw as a very Owenish sense of independence and fierce hashtagiconoclast mode of thinking.
But again. It was about me, not Mr. Manson.
The word “idol” becomes a lot more important here. When I think idol I think deaddoll. Something bronze or gold with eight arms. Inanimate. Clearly dead with no chance of being mistaken for real. So really hero worship is idol worship — we’re turning people into ideas and that’s where we come in.
I was searching for something within myself some missing piece of angst or love or something that I found in my idea of Mr. Manson. And I feel a lot of white middle class teens are drawn to him in this way. The same way we’re drawn to Kurt Cobain or even Anton LaVey.
For me (and I would assume others like me) there was a sense of intellectualism to it. Sure Mr. Manson iswas a controversial idea — he used to speak openly of smoking human bones, tearing pages out of Bibles onstage, and doing generally naughty things. The intellectualism thing comes in when we start thinking “I-see-the-merit-in-idolizing-this-guy-because-I-see-his-irony-I-am-not-a-sheep.”
It’s probably exactly what he wants us to do so he can sell albums. How sheepy of me.
But did it make me feel good at the time? Yeah. Mostly.
And that’s what this whole hero worship thing is about. It wasn’t about Mr. Manson for the sake of being a beautiful role model. He wasn’t. He isn’t. And I think I knew that then. But I wanted him to be.
Brian Hugh Warner was not a man that I loved. Marilyn Manson — the idea the belief, the construct — was. My idea of him shaped an important part of me. He didn’t.
So yes, I have emancipated myself from my idea of Marilyn Manson. I have (un)consciously realized that he (the idea) does not fulfill the purpose that I need him (it) to.
So I’m moving on.
That’s the nature of hero worship.
It’s really just worship of our own ideas stemming from our own desires and needs. So once a need is met, we kill our hero. We smash our bronze idol.
Until a new need comes, with a new person (idea) to fulfill it.
My new idea is David Foster Wallace. But that’s a story for another time.