Only a few years ago, Evan Rachel Wood was Lolita'd up, wearing heart-shaped glasses and having super-sexy sex on-tape with Marilyn Manson. It was one apt metaphor for a relationship between a couple with an eighteen-year age difference. Fast-forward to the present, and Wood has moved on, leaving Manson to do what he does best -- lather in controversial thoughts and stretch every boundary and opinion of decency. But this time, it's taken a new turn. His new video "Running to the Edge of the World" watches him sing with a tortured look in his eyes for a good four minutes before twisting into a domestic violence fest, a girl looking like Wood's doppelganger getting the living crap beat out of her and then looking around, scared, with blood dripping all over her.
I'm pretty easy-going when it comes to violence and media. I don't believe violent movies and video games make for violent individuals. Back in the day, my favorite fighting game was the banned, bloody, and violent Thrill Kill. I adore the over-the-top bloodletting in Tarantino films, and grew up on a steady habit of supernatural and dark literary fare. I've even enjoyed the occasional Manson song in -- gasp -- a black leather trench.
But there's a difference between random, imaginary violence that lives in the land of make believe and hiring a girl who looks like your ex so that you can play out fantasies of seriously beating her. Like all of us, I have my triggers -- the moments I have little patience for, and this is definitely one of them. Yes, Manson is an easy target. We're talking about a performer who threatens to hunt you down if he doesn't like what you say, yet tries everything he can to elicit disdain.
It would be easy to dismiss this and say, "It's just Manson," but to do so ignores the greater society where violence against women is rampant, from the regular Joe raising his hand against Jane, to the mess between Rihanna and Chris Brown. We live in a world where torture porn has thrived, marketed on pictures of ravaged women. But at the very least, while far from the greatest form of entertainment, those images are part of a larger story and context.
With media like "Running to the Edge of the World," there's no larger story, moral, or even judgment on his actions. The violence is an obvious way for Manson to celebrate his anger-filled fantasies of beating Wood; using a look-alike makes the link explicit. As he once wanted to share his passion with the world, now he must share his anger. We all have violent thoughts to some degree, moments where we wish we could shake or slap someone, but we don't try to turn it into a saucy music video and make it alluring.
Yes, it's legal. To some, it's art. For his fans, Manson's antics are loved. And this is a big reason why I can't ignore a video like this without speaking out about it, and to this idea of just ignoring him. This video isn't just relishing the release of anger, but practically killing a defenseless woman, one distinctly modeled after a real person and real issue without any message of the fact that it's wrong. I don't know what the answer is to fix this, but the world has got to know that it's not okay to fetishize beating up your ex girlfriend -- making it seem desirable to inflict pain on women who disappoint you.
And the fact of the matter is -- this skewed idea of what is okay isn't just living in some small slice of the rock world. It's a sentiment that doesn't just live with some random music fans who think this is okay.
We're living in a time when many educated and seriously clueless people, for one, are excusing the actions of Roman Polanski. Think what you will of the system, the corruption, his fleeing the country, and now being detained again, but there is no question as to what happened to the girl. Read the transcript. Remember that he confessed guilt. He drugged and raped this girl -- there is no question of that, no matter how beautiful his films are. Yet there's that petition of hundreds of names, and people like Whoopi saying it's not "rape-rape." People use this poor victim's desire for it to all be over as a sign that what happened was okay.
It both reflects and instigates this notion of sexual dominance over women, and if you can head to the comments and call bullshit, I am happy that you and your loved ones haven't had to deal with violence. But most of us have. I've watched many loved ones faced with domestic violence, experienced stupid young kids who thought it's perfectly okay to pin a girl and cop a feel, clubgoers who grope without consent, men who call you a stupid whore if you don't stop to talk to them ... the list goes on and on. Yet I consider myself lucky that my experiences haven't been worse.
We need to demand more from our entertainment and do what we can to change this ever-rampant and negative attitude against women. Even if it's the smallest of small minorities that think this is all okay, that's enough to make the world unsafe and let the violence live on.
Note: We didn't want to put the video on our page, but if you're interested in watching it, you can find it over here.