For those unfamiliar with his work, previous examples of Marilyn Manson's art include dressing as the Pope (and being banned from Italy as a consequence), appearing as a mutilated rendition of Christ on the cover of his 2000 album 'Holy Wood', and using controversial imagery such as post-autopsy infants in his artwork. Due to his shambolic performance at Download Festival earlier this year, many have proclaimed Manson to be a 'falling star', stoking the dying embers of a career. However, his new music video proves that there's as much vitriol left in him as ever.
Throughout his twenty years of creating music, Marilyn Manson has always strived to add multiple levels of meaning to his art, both visually, musically and semantically - 'Running To The Edge Of The World', released November 5th 2009, is no exception. Along with 2007's video, 'Heart Shaped Glasses', RTTEOTW explores the more human side of Manson, as opposed to the theatrical creation explored most famously in his 'triptych' of earlier albums (Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood). Evoking sympathy, despair and eventually revulsion and anger, the video's conclusion will come as a shock to any first-time viewer, and is quite possibly the most extreme move in Manson's illustrious career, as well as a tenebrous analogy of his recent, widely publicised split with long-term girlfriend, Evan Rachel Wood.
The video has been removed due to a copyright claim - find it here before reading on, video spoilers follow.
The main body of this video, whilst showcasing the raw emotion behind the song, lures the viewer into what can only be described as a sense of 'false sympathy'. The despair evoked by nothing more than Manson's facial expressions and the pained wringing of his hands invites the viewer to drop their defenses, as Manson is seen as a clear victim - of what, we cannot be sure. It is during this section that the lyrics shine through, including the beautifully written "Sometimes hate is not enough to turn this all to ashes / Together as one, against all others, break all of our wings and make sure it crashes". Those who brand Manson an untalented musician are left with a large amount of egg on their pursed, skeptical faces.
At 4.05, the tone of the video changes, as the blurred image of a blood-stained blonde is imposed over two harsh electric notes, foreshadowing the video's conclusion. What transpires is a dark perversion of the 'vampire romance' exhibited in 'Heart Shaped Glasses', which involves a sex scene between Marilyn Manson and Evan Rachel Wood (who bears a striking resemblance to the blonde woman in RTTEOTW), showered in blood. Interestingly, the final line of that video is "Together as one, against all others", spoken before the devoted couple plunge to their deaths off a cliff. Wood described the sex scene in a later interview as "one of the most romantic moments of my life". RTTEOTW explores just how romantic a shower of blood can be when it's pouring from a broken nose.
One cannot help but be reminded of a lyric from another of Manson's songs, 'Leave A Scar' - "If you're not afraid of getting hurt, then I'm not afraid of how much I hurt you".
Whether or not you think this bold and shocking move is a step beyond the boundaries of taste, this dark, horrific and undeniably, eerily beautiful video remains a testament to Manson's skill as an artist - and hopefully, a promise that there is more to come.
Marilyn Manson's latest album (The High End Of Low) is currently available on Interscope.