Believe people the first time: Brian Warner, part 1

Note: I will be referring to Brian Warner, the rock musician professionally known as Marilyn Manson, by his legal name throughout this post. This is done deliberately to disarm him. Brian Warner doesn’t get to be the big scary goth god anymore. The name Brian Warner reveals himself for who he truly is: a scared, childish man, who has taken his demons out on women in lieu of wrangling them for himself.

Usually, whenever a case like Brian Warner’s becomes public, there’s this big push to make sure that everyone believes the survivors. “We must believe survivors” and so forth. This is true; our data suggest that very, very few allegations of sexual assault or abuse are fabricated, although about half of people believe in the myth that women lie about rape to get back at men. Indeed, we must believe survivors.

That’s not what I’m here for today. Of course I believe the numerous survivors who came forward yesterday that they had been abused by Warner. I also believe Warner himself.

My philosophy about people is that we must believe who they are when they reveal themselves to us. There’s nothing cryptic about that statement. I mean that people, to put it bluntly, snitch on themselves constantly when they do bad things–and Brian Warner has been snitching on himself constantly. He has spent the last three decades outing himself as a violently abusive person who enjoys torturing women.

Nobody took him very seriously, so here we are today. Content warning: this post contains graphic descriptions of extreme violence against women.

Let’s start with a quote from Warner’s autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell: “Most of the world’s problems could be avoided if people just said what they fucking meant.” Indeed, this is half-true. The other half is that most of the world’s problems could be avoided if people just understood what was said in the first place. Like Mein Kampf, if people had taken Warner’s autobiography seriously, a lot of damage could have been prevented.

A third of the way into the book, Warner meets a woman named Nancy. Within 13 pages, Nancy joins his band, Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, and also begins a sexual relationship with him, and then eventually Warner plans to kill her after things go sour:

I finally called her and laid it on the line: “Not only are you not going to be in the band anymore, but if you don’t leave town I’m going to have you killed.” I wasn’t exaggerating. … With Nancy, while I didn’t think it was right to take a human life, I didn’t
think it was right to deny myself the chance of causing someone to die either,
especially someone whose existence meant so little to the world and to herself.
At the time, taking someone’s life seemed like a necessary growing and learning
experience, like losing your virginity or having a child.

Warner and the rest of the Spooky Kids eventually conclude that the best way to kill Nancy would be to set her house on fire with her inside. They get as far as Nancy’s house, after confirming that she’s home, when their efforts are thwarted by a crackhead named Hollywood. It’s not that Hollywood knows about their murder plot and tries to stop it. He just keeps getting them to buy crack with him, and this coupled with heavy police presence in the neighborhood turns the Spooky Kids off to the idea of murdering Nancy.

I was only six when Out of Hell came out–and Evan Rachel Wood, possibly Warner’s youngest survivor, was only ten–so I was not privy to the reactions of fans and book reviewers. I can only speculate. I surmise that, in the afterglow of 20th century misogyny, a lot of people probably blamed Nancy for her would-be fate. She’s a jezebel, a “psycho” as Warner describes her. One of the greatest shortcomings of rock and roll subcultures is that they have perpetuated the same misogyny that we ought to be rebelling from: the falsehood that women “ruin” men. Out of Hell is not hardly the only rock memoir in which women are blamed for ruining men.

Beyond perpetuating that myth, Out of Hell also details incidents in which Warner performs abject torture on fans. On one tour, Warner, his bandmate Jeordie “Twiggy Ramirez” White, and their bus driver Tony Wiggins, basically start torturing fans backstage while filming them confessing their deepest secrets. After one fan, trapped in a ramshackle device built by Wiggins that strangles you if you release pressure in your arms and legs, confesses that she miscarried a child after having sex with Trent Reznor at a Nine Inch Nails concert, she is caught by Wiggins’ strangling machine and falls unconscious:

Wiggins pulled an army knife out of his pocket and sliced through the cord trailing from her neck, releasing the tension. But she didn’t wake up. We slapped her, screamed at her, dumped water on her. Nothing worked. This was bad. I didn’t want to be the first rock-and-roller to have actually killed a girl due to backstage hedonism.
After three minutes, she groaned and blinked her eyes open. That was probably the last time she ever wanted to go backstage again.

Much of Out of Hell reads like a confessional for a guy that, well, really just loves to torture women, frequently blaming them for whatever they’ve done to deserve it. It should therefore be no surprise that five women have come forward with reports that Warner tortured them as well.

Aside from his book, Warner in 2009 told an interviewer, “I have fantasies every day about smashing [Evan Rachel Wood]’s skull in with a sledgehammer”. In this interview, he also recalls spending Christmas Day 2008 calling Wood a total of 158 times, and cutting his skin and body each time she didn’t pick up, in order “to show her the pain she put me through”. This was, mind you, in 2009: many years before Wood herself would testify before Congress in 2018 on her experiences being “mentally and physically tortured” by “rituals of binding [her] up by [her] hands and feet”.

This is what I’m trying to illustrate here. Let’s put aside that a total of five women came forward yesterday with these reports. What Wood is corroborating is not just their stories or even her own story, but Warner’s story: the one he’s been telling since he first became famous for singing songs about torturing women and then also writing a book about him torturing women.

Again: believe people when they show you who they are the first time! Warner has made it very clear that he is extremely violent towards women. Believe him.

Quite frankly, if you don’t believe that Brian Warner has done what these women claim he’s done to them, then you haven’t been listening to him.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my take on the Brian Warner case.

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