In 1999, two teenage boys went on a mass killing spree in Colorado.
The pair had built and detonated home-made bombs in their high school murdering twelve of their fellow students while injuring more than twenty others.It became a popular opinion that the two had been as noted from ‘The Encyclopaedia of Liars and Deceivers’: “…allegedly inspired to commit their awful crime by the deliberately shocking work of rock singer Marilyn Manson. To stop the situation escalating, Manson was forced to cancel the rest of his American tour. It only became clear much later that the two boys were not fans of Manson’s music at all” (Bolt, R. 47). The false blame and intense scrutiny from religious and media organizations were ferocious and intense. Most of this ferocity was aimed squarely at Marilyn Manson.
In 2000, Marilyn Manson would release the album “Holy wood.” The album was heavily inspired by the scapegoating and profiling that his band and many of his fans were subjected to. Manson would release a video from this album for a song entitled, “The Fight Song.” The song would serve as a scathing condemnation directed at religion and society in general for their influence on violence in the United States. The video would offer a satirical look at the American cultural by using an extremely popular youth sport.
The beginning sequence foreshadows a changing mood as darkening clouds quickly converge over a football stadium. The imagery is heavily steeped in propaganda seen in everyday Americana with signs that read, “We’re Happy to Live in America” and another stating, “Be a Winner! Give Blood.” The use of hidden symbolism is obvious with a meticulous eye one can see an ax hanging on the entrance fence under a sign that reads, “For Fire Only.” The unusual placement creates an ominous feeling.
A strong dose of allegory continues as a normal game of American football is transformed into a culture clash. The “good” guys are dressed in all white and made up of “clean cut” young men wearing jerseys labeled, “Holy.” The opposing or “bad” squad is covered in all black and comprised of “goth” youth with tops marked, “Death.” The artist uses the imagery to create distinct lines with a possible desire for the audience to “choose” a side.
The contest begins under “normal” football rules but as rain begins to fall, the game grows increasingly more violent. The artist symbolic conveys the message that American society not only accepts violence but condones it. This is clear through as the celebration of the onlookers’ grows more exuberant as violence increases. Concealed within the cinematic sequence is a brief glimpse of police officers beating on outcast youth.
The message rapidly transitions into offering society an alternative through the clever use of an ax and a football. The football sparks as a catalyst as the quarterback unloads a “bomb” that smashes into the scoreboard sparking a huge ball of flames. The flame initially consumes the scoreboard–as “Holy” burns. The fire quickly spreads to engulf the goal posts. In the last sequence of symbolic destruction, one of the youth chops down the burning post with the axe. This conclusion offers an evocation that religion and culturally ingrained violence will end with the action of the youth to take it down.
Despite a limited run on MTV, the video would be trendy and still remains widely available. As an example, a quick internet query yields many avenues to watch this video. One random “uploaded” version from 2009 has been viewed nearly 16 million times. With widespread internet availability, the music video remains a popular and powerful tool for artists to voice their message.
Bolt, Roelf. ‘The Encyclopaedia of Liars and Deceivers.” London, GB:
Reaktion Books (2014): 19.