This week, actress Evan Rachel Wood and several other women spoke up about the violent abuse they say that musician Marilyn Manson inflicted upon them. (Wood had told her story to a House judiciary subcommittee in 2018 but didn't name Manson at the time.) In The New Yorker, brilliant music and culture critic Amanda Petrusich has a compelling analysis of the "Marilyn Manson Reckoning":
Back when I was an alt-rock-obsessed teen-ager, it was far easier to pretend that I was a (welcome) part of the brigade rejecting "the mainstream" than to reckon with the reality that many of the musicians I admired were still, in fact, helplessly tethered to it—particularly when it came to the way these artists thought, sang about, and treated women. Now every time a supposed iconoclast is accused of abuse, the news feels especially vicious to fans who had looked to that artist for help finding self-acceptance. It might sound counterintuitive, given the calculated ugliness of his persona, but Manson's unabashed and extreme behavior made him feel, to many, like a safe space.
Thankfully, more contemporary artists are working in good faith to suggest a different way forward, exploding lingering norms and defying notions of what constitutes authenticity or rebellion. The pop producer and performer SOPHIE, an early progenitor of hyper-pop (SOPHIE died tragically last weekend, at age thirty-four), is a wonderful example of generous, nutritive transgression; so is Anohni, once of the band Antony and the Johnsons, who makes stunning, spectral electro-pop that's fundamentally at odds with old ideas. Orville Peck, Lil Nas X, Kim Petras, Harry Styles—their success proves that singularity and disobedience no longer need to be tied to destruction.