On April 20, 1999, two Columbine High School students walked into their school in Littleton, Colorado, shot and killed thirteen people, and injured twenty-three others before turning the guns on themselves. The massacre shocked the country into a wave of introspection and accusation. Just who or what could have led these young men to commit such a gruesome act?
Fingers flailed and landed on a skinny man caked in face paint and dressed in gothic garb similar to that favored by the murderers. He also had a few hit albums under his black leather belt, but that didn’t stop critics from blaming Marilyn Manson for influencing the teens to kill. Pundits and politicians, including Senator Joe Lieberman, attacked Manson, labeling the artist a “shock rocker” whose band was the “sickest group ever promoted by a mainstream record company.” Manson fought back with a piece in Rolling Stone: “When it comes down to who’s to blame for the high school murders in Littleton, Colorado, throw a rock and you’ll hit someone who’s guilty. … when these tragedies happen, most people don’t really care any more than they would about the season finale of Friends or The Real World.”
In 2001, the band’s “Fight Song” video, featuring goth kids battling jocks, was alleged to be a commentary on the tragedy. Manson replied to the rumor: “People will put into it what they want if it helps them sell newspapers … Flak isn’t my job.” True. Now that he’s divorced from burlesque babe Dita Von Teese, his job consists mostly of feeding tabloids news of his romance with 19-year old actress Evan Rachel Wood. Even when it’s just about sex, Manson’s still scandalous.