“As an artist my duty is to ask the questions. The viewer must answer them.”
That is how Marilyn Manson, ever the provocateur, describes the incredibly graphic new music video for “SAY10,” the title track off his upcoming 10th studio album, due sometime this year. The video, directed and conceptualized by Tyler Shields, depicts a besuited Manson seated on his throne in a caliginous, smoky room. “Cash is the poor man’s money,” he sings, before tearing out pages of a Bible, and, in a lightning-fast montage: beheading a blond man in a dark suit and red power tie who resembles Donald Trump.
You can watch the NSFW clip here:
While the bloodied, small-handed corpse certainly resembles Trump, and the act of beheading perhaps a commentary of sorts on the Republican presidential candidate’s attitude toward Islamist extremists, Manson, speaking on the eve of the election, says that the work is open to varying interpretations.
“Either way tomorrow goes, the visuals are meant to create contemplation. Because it’s obviously bigger than just tomorrow,” he says. “It’s about the desperate acts of people who believe something that is preached by an unbeliever.
“Right now we’re in such a state of confusion when it comes to religion, politics, sexuality, and how they all tie together, and it’s being turned into a circus and a sideshow—and that’s something that I’ve been described as a ringleader of,” Manson continues. “It seems like a time for me as an artist, and as an American artist, to make something that causes a new set of questions to arise that aren’t simply statements.”
Manson has had a famously contentious relationship with the American right—one that began when conservative outlets like Fox News irresponsibly tied him to the 1999 Columbine massacre, (falsely) alleging his music inspired the shooters, and culminating in an on-air showdown wherein the heavily makeuped shock rocker thoroughly embarrassed Bill O’Reilly. As far as his political allegiances go, Manson told me earlier this year that he will not be casting a vote in the upcoming election, refusing to choose between “cat shit and dog shit.”
“I don’t think that, as an artist, I can make as much of a difference voting as I can the commentaries I make in music on my next record, Say10,” he explained.
Well, now that commentary is here—and it is something.