An Analysis of ‘Disposable Teens’ by Marilyn Manson According to Andrew Goodwin’s Theory

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Marilyn Manson

Genre :The genre of Manson’s music is apparent within video because throughout most of it there are heavy performance elements. There are mid-shots and close-ups of Manson singing and performing on a stage paired with long shots and numerous close ups of different band members as they play their instruments. This is very typical of the rock genre, and these shots are seen in nearly every video of the style. There is also the involvement of live crowds that are watching the band and Manson play, this too can be seen as a ‘convention’ of the rock genre throughout many other rock music videos too, as it gives a raw and energetic feel to the video that is usually apparent in the music.

Notions of Looking:  With the principles that make up ‘The Notions of Looking’ – voyeurism and scopophilia, we don’t really see a lot of that influence in ‘Disposable Teens’ however, it’s arguable that as well as being a convention of the rock genre, the idea of the band performing gives the viewers the sensation they are watching the band live. This live performance is featured throughout a good portion of the video, also coincidentally a lot of the close-ups and mid-shots of the band members that aren’t Manson happen in these sequences, as the viewer can see all of them and watch them interact as a band on stage, like they would if they were experiencing the music live.

Sound & Vision: The video is cut and edited to the beat and pace of the song. This is visible from the first few seconds of the song, as cuts are made almost immediately that suits the song and its pace. It begins with a short scream of Manson’s that has been edited, this scream stops as the shot is cut to another short scene of Manson dressed as the pope, this is then cut to a longer sequence of Manson, which remains until the heavier introduction of the song has died down, before the vocals. This short instrumental based part of the song is choppy and heavy with drums and bass guitar, to which the video is cleverly edited to match, flitting between different parts of the video that are later on continued in different parts. The editing carries on much like this throughout the song which matches up what we see, to what we hear.

Another way in which the video connects the lyrics and song to the visual elements is through the four subdivisions of this category. However, in Manson’s video ‘Disposable Teens’ two of the four subdivisions feature more prominently. I haven’t been able to see any examples of contradiction or direct illustration of the lyrics (which is uncommon) I’ve seen, on the other hand, a lot of the amplifying technique and a type of disjuncture, which relates more to the theme and style of the video more than a direct and clear link to the written lyrics.

Examples of Amplify: The song lyrics might be written as a satire of society and a commentary of teenager angst, on a whole, which is amplified throughout the video in forms of religious satire as both revolve around the hypocrisy in which Manson could be targeting. There are three iconic and memorable ways in which Manson does this, that are repeated throughout the video. Firstly, Manson is dressed as the pope and the first occurrence of this representation is in time to the the lyrics ‘I’m an ape of God’. The lyrics don’t fit into the illustrate category because the lyrics aren’t all demonstrated on screen, however the repetition of Manson in the costume leads me to the conclusion that this is a perfect example of the amplify technique.  Secondly, within this particular shot frame, Manson is placed just to the left of a Crucifixion cross. This reinforces and emphasises the ideas and lyrics that pertain to religion and God, mainly because the song highlights a view on religion in a single lyric ‘I never hated a one true God, the God of the people I hated’, this too is amplified because the lyrics alluding to this are sung by Manson, when he’s himself not another character, in the live performance part of the video. Finally Manson amplifies the satirical religious content of the song, by having himself and the band, featured in a ‘Last Super’ parody to which the position of Jesus is taken by a chimpanzee wearing a crown of thorns. ‘The ape was a great big hit’ and the references to ‘evolution’ within the song is also what the presence of the chimp is amplifying in the song. It also adds to the satire, as everyone knows the extent of conflict that Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution’ created in the religious community. Also at a certain point of the song, the tempo changes and the lyrics ‘the more that you fear us, the bigger we get’ are sung, at this point, the video cuts to the scene where Manson is dressed as the pope, and he’s gesturing to the cross. This could be interpreted as him talking in reference to the Christian faith/religion in general or talking about teenage stereotypes as they spread, again amplifying the key points within the song that have relevance to the messages that the artists wanted to convey.

Examples of Disjuncture:  Within the video there are some sequences and shots that are more metaphorical/symbolistic in regards to the video’s meaning as opposed to being obviously and directly linked to the lyrics being heard at the same time. Firstly the sequence, in which Manson is shown bald and pale with the young woman, who’s holding a flower, has no direct and obvious relevance to the lyrics that the viewers are hearing, however when the video itself is looked at as an art form with its own message, the viewer can piece together various metaphorical or symbolistic meanings it can represent. For example, in that sequence, when she presses her finger into Manson’s skull, she could be a metaphor representing a body of authority or control with him being a metaphor representing a body of people that are under the influence or controlled by someone/something else. This can also be seen at the end of the video when Manson’s face is covered with wasps. Wasps hold their own connotations, such as danger and anger, however the shot has no direct or obvious links to the end lyrics of the song. In another shorter sequence within the video, Manson is sat inside of what appears to be a metal cage, with a lamb fur coat wrapped around him. The featuring of the lamb (religious imagery/connotations) and a pair of crude wings behind him is again more of a metaphor involved with the video and the song’s possible meaning, than the actual song lyrics.

Star Image: The video starts out with Manson rising slowly from what appears to be a lake, symbolic of the third and final beast, with his iconic golden teeth. This sets the scene for the video and directly relates to his star image and can be seen to relate with his previous albums titled ‘Antichrist Superstar’ and ‘Mechanical Animals’. The audience expects a certain style from the band, due to their image and reputation. Each individual band member has a look that they make their own, seen most obviously with Twiggy and Manson. In this video, the artists give the audience what they expect, Manson is playing into his star image by wearing expressive face make-up, his single bright blue contact lens and a black leather/PVC outfit with corset, Twiggy is wearing a dress, with his boots, the rest of the band following suit with make-up, and black/leather clothing. They all match and relate to one another and the subject material of the video and the song heavily relate to the band’s public star image. The amount of self-expression is high, so it’s no surprise ‘Disposable Teens’ is one of Marilyn Manson’s better known songs. Manson’s individual star image calls for a theatrical approach to his costume and make-up, which is again catered to in this video as it also features a larger than life costume in the live performance sequence of the video. The message that is portrayed in this video and the song also caters to the band’s star image of being something that opposes most aspects of hypocritical authority. The video could be interpreted as likening the generations of ‘rebelling’ teenagers gone by, that grow up to become the hypocrites of society to religious hypocrisy. The song’s meaning paired with the video makes meaning and content vague and easily left up to audience to interpret. This is something that is very common with Manson’s videos and adds to the appeal of the band and their star image.

Intertextuality: There are a lot of intertextual references in this video. The majority of them are biblical, as I have mentioned above. At the very beginning Manson rises from a lake referencing the symbolism of rise of the rise of the beast. Again throughout the video there are allusions to the ‘last super’ painting by Da Vinci, as Manson lies on the table and is part of the ‘food’ served at the meal. This intertextuality is used to give meaning to the video and the song, and it also fits in with the historical intertextuality the video has. In certain parts of the live performance sequence the stage is being barricaded by fascist police guards with crucifix shaped batons (another use of religious intertextuality) which reminds the viewers of the fascist movement, and of course as the video climaxes with the crowd over-coming the police guards, there is a slight intertextual connection that can be made with various publicized riots over time. Again this too adds to the metaphors and symbolism throughout the video that appeals the video has to its target audience.

Representation Within the Video: Within the video the representation of the lyric material to the audience and socitey as a whole can be linked to a satire of religion and how it effects teenage minds in often the wrong way, inspiring them to rebel against the rules imposed on them and ending up sending them to the opposite extreme sometimes, and the hopelessness of teenagers and their need for having this rebellious, defiant attitude  which is amplified in the riot scene of the video and various parts of the lyrics ‘I’m a black rainbow’ for instance. The video is a satire lyrically and this shows through the media product itself making interesting to watch and analyse even from the point of view of someone who isn’t necessarily interested in Manson’s music which again is successful as it appeals to more than just the target audience.

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