Sunday night, in his first concert since a falling prop broke his leg, Marilyn Manson tried out stretch out his old “freak out your parents” muscles by taking out a fake rifle and pointing it at the audience. This comes from Variety, which says the gun had a microphone on it and was “obviously fake,” but the realness of the gun probably isn’t the biggest issue here. The larger problem is that there was a mass shooting on Sunday, where 26 people were killed in a church in Texas, and also that Manson’s concert was in San Bernardino—which saw a mass shooting in 2015. Basically, it was an awful, tasteless idea for multiple reasons.
Now, Manson has been forced to issue a statement about the fake gun prop, saying that it was “an act of theater in an attempt to make a statement.” Here’s his explanation in full:
In an era where mass shootings have become a nearly daily occurrence,” he wrote, “this was an act of theater in an attempt to make a statement about how easily accessible semi-automatic weapons are and how seeing them has become normalized. My art has always been a reaction to popular culture and my way to make people think about the horrible things that happen in this world. My performance was not meant to be disrespectful or show any insensitivity. The prop microphone I used on stage was handed to me with the approval of a police officer. My empathy goes out to anyone who has been affected by the irresponsible and reprehensible misuse of real guns.
Variety does say that a “handful” of police officers were on hand, but it sounds like nobody in the audience was particularly shocked by Manson’s whole thing. Kelli Skye Fadroski, a reporter for the San Bernardino Sun, said that some people in the audience thought it was “lame” and beyond that it “didn’t seem to truly bother anyone.” Perhaps the issue then is that real life is so shocking that trying to be shocking just comes across as boring.