Throughout the latter half of the 90s, shares in Hot Topic skyrocketed as teenagers across America donned corpse-white make-up, smudged black lipstick, ripped fishnet tights, and neo-goth attire in homage to their new hero, Marilyn Manson, born on January 5, 1969. With image playing a huge part in his band’s raison d’être, it followed that their music videos would be as compellingly distasteful as their very identity. And, as their popularity surged, so did the scope and ambition of their promos, which would eventually take on the guise of mini-movies, some reflecting the debauched side of Hollywood that Manson came to inhabit. Here are ten of the best Marilyn Manson videos.
10: Get Your Gunn
“Get Your Gunn” was the lead track taken from Marilyn Manson’s 1994 debut album, Portrait Of An American Family. Directed by Rod Chong (Junkie XL, Skinny Puppy), the clip is set in a creepy abandoned house, marking the band as visual artists as much as musical ones, as captivating as they are revolting. The song was inspired by the murder of Dr David Gunn by an anti-abortionist claiming to be carrying out God’s work, and was later held up by many who claimed it inspired the Columbine High School massacre. Fun fact: it’s one of the few videos that feature Marilyn Manson with eyebrows.
9: The Fight Song
Taken from the band’s fourth album, Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death), “Fight Song” saw Marilyn Manson embrace their glam rock influences. The video, however, is suitably dark, featuring the goths and outsiders (Death Valley) pitted against the jocks (Holy Wood) in a gnarly high-school football game. Reflecting Holy Wood…’s theme as an attack on mainstream culture, the Death Valley team of misfits get their vengeance on the jocks in a violent encounter that at one point involves riot police. At the end a stray football strikes the scoreboard, setting it alight as a burning goalpost collapses, symbolizing liberation for the oppressed.
8: The Nobodies
In 1999, Marilyn Manson was made a scapegoat for the Columbine High School massacre. His response was “The Nobodies,” also from the 2000 album Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death), which addressed the shooting’s culprits, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The title was inspired by a quote from John Lennon’s murderer, Mark David Chapman, who once claimed he “felt like a nobody.” The Paul Fedor-directed video sees Marilyn Manson’s promos taking on a more Hollywood feel, with a storyline about orphans finding a safe place with the frontman after escaping abusive nuns at their orphanage.
Lifted from 2003’s The Golden Age Of Grotesque, “mOBSCENE” is co-directed by Manson alongside Thomas Kloss, who boasts Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” among his credits. As Manson described the video, “We took our inspiration from Busby Berkeley, USO shows, WWII Berlin and Gottfried Helnwein’s Macbeth.” The clip, then, shows a troupe of chorus girls dancing in Second World War-inspired uniforms as the frontman’s then-girlfriend Dita Von Teese writhes around in an oversized novelty martini glass. “mOBSCENE” received a nomination for Best Metal Performance at the 2004 Grammys, but the award went to Metallica for “St Anger.”
6: The Dope Show
Manson underwent a major transformation for 1998’s Mechanical Animals, debuting as the concept album’s lead character, Omega, in the video for “The Dope Show.” The flame-haired Manson appears as an androgynous space alien who fell to Earth and was then captured and subjected to laboratory studies before being transported to perform with his band, The Mechanical Animals. The concept is a homage to the 1976 sci-fi movie The Man Who Fell To Earth, which starred David Bowie, a hero of Manson’s who provided much influence for the band’s glam rock-inspired era.
By 1996, Marilyn Manson were starting to gain momentum, thanks in part to the heavy rotation of the visually impactful, if not particularly catchy, “Tourniquet” on MTV. The second single from Antichrist Superstar, its video was directed by Italian-Canadian filmmaker Floria Sigismondi, who underwent a period of sleep deprivation in order to maximize her offbeat vision for the promo. “Tourniquet” was inspired by recurring dreams of Manson’s. He explained to Rolling Stone: “I’ve always had these dreams about making a girl out of all these pieces of prosthetic limbs, and then taking my own hair and teeth that I saved from when I was a kid and very ritualistically creating this companion.”
4: This Is The New S__t
The first song to materialize from the sessions for The Golden Age Of Grotesque, “This Is The New S__t” was lifted as the album’s second single and signalled the dawn of a new era for Marilyn Manson. With longstanding bassist and collaborator Twiggy Ramirez’s departure, former KMFDM alum Tim Sköld joined the fold, bringing with him a harder industrial edge with his production expertise. The WWII themes continue in the video, which sees Manson arrive at the Parc Du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, Belgium, where he goes on to play the anthem in an energetic manner before his most devoted fans.
The NSFW follow up to 2017’s “SAY10” – both taken from Heaven Upside Down – once again stars Manson’s pal Johnny Depp, who appears in a red room reviewing prints and video footage of sexual encounters. The Giallo-inspired clip sees Depp lured to the bedroom of a mansion for a multi-way romp soundtracked by the song’s synth-led pulsating groove. But is the sexual escapade real or fantasy? Or is Depp just a puppet in Manson’s own perverse gameplay? Manson told Loudwire: “Some might say ‘Would you kill for me?’ is a question. It’s more of a veiled threat than a question. It’s an ultimatum, I think.”
2: Personal Jesus
Marilyn Manson’s sound has a lot in common with 80s synth-pop troupe Depeche Mode, whose track “Personal Jesus” Marilyn Manson made their own. The song was written in response to Priscilla Presley’s memoir, Elvis And Me, and explores the idea that people can lose their identity in romantic relationships. Marilyn Manson took that concept and applied it to their own view of the hypocrisy that exists in popular culture. Manson shines a light on influential figures seen by themselves or others as humanity’s saviours – whether history views them favourably or not – with images of Stalin, Mussolini, JFK, Gandhi, Hitler, and George W Bush in the video.
1: The Beautiful People
The breakthrough single “The Beautiful People,” the first to be lifted from 1996’s Antichrist Superstar, remains Marilyn Manson’s most powerful and recognizable track. Its iconic video was filmed in an abandoned distillery in Toronto, Canada, and featured the band performing among creepy prosthetics and a cast of eerie characters. As with “Tourniquet,” director Floria Sigismondi explored the spookier parts of her imagination, utilising an unsettling combination of unsteady camera work and a fast cut. In typical Marilyn Manson style, the song pokes fun at the hypocrisy of the culture of beauty. The video was nominated for Best Rock Video, Best Art Direction, and Best Special Effects at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.
Looking for more? Discover the best Marilyn Manson songs.