Today’s lesson is on the subject of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is tantamount to the “do as I say, not as I do” ethos so commonly used by pseudo-moralist types.
As many of you know, Marilyn Manson is playing a concert here in town this weekend at the Arlington Theater. I’m not a big fan, but I do appreciate the effort and showmanship of any performer, even if I don’t agree with the lyrical content of his or her music. After all, it’s just a band, a show, a performance, whatever. Enter Mr. Michael Driscoll, the pseudo-moralist.
Apparently Mr. Driscoll (a resident of that wonderful “Beverly Hills” to the south of Santa Barbara’s blue-collar land known as Montecito) seems to believe that Marilyn Manson shouldn’t be allowed to perform because he feels that the content of Manson’s lyrics preach violence. He’s not far from the truth, but that’s not at issue here.
If this was coming from someone within the religious right then I could actually understand his position based on his beliefs. I wouldn’t agree with his view, but I’d respect it. However, Mr. Driscoll doesn’t belong to the religious right. Mr. Driscoll is a Hollywood executive (a manager for screenwriters, to be exact) and this is where the hypocrisy begins.
Hollywood is known for producing material which is, at most times, violent in nature – hence the rating system. There’s also plenty of sex in the Hollywood product – further proof that sex and violence do sell. So why does a purveyor of the Hollywood product come out to protest a simple rock concert?
For years the Hollywood jet set has been telling us that its product should not be taken for anything more than what it is, a movie. Music is not far removed from the realm of movies. Some of it is meaningful, some is not; it is a form of entertainment intended for the popular audience and that’s all. To base one’s life around the lyrics of a song or a performer’s life amounts to fanaticism. After all, it is only music and to think of it as anything more is ridiculous.
Most lyrics are written in the spur of the moment with the goal of making it to the top of the pop (short for “popularity”) charts, which amounts to making money for nothing. It’s all about image and marketing.
Nothing’s wrong with this, as it shows that even somebody with as little talent as Britney Spears can make it big with the proper marketing and the right amount of sex appeal. Movies work the same way. If you cast a movie with Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise, it is guaranteed that every female with active hormones will be there at the premiere, screaming for the leading man. The same holds true for males when you put Jennifer Lopez or Cameron Diaz in a movie. They aren’t there for the acting or even the plot, just the possibility of seeing the leading star’s ass or more.
Of course, violence sells too, and Hollywood does a great job of putting out products with plenty of violence. Ever hear of Arnold Schwarzenegger? How about the devout Mali-Buddhist named Steven Segal? The examples are many, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s only a product for entertainment. Still, fanatics abound and give the average audience member a bad rap when they stalk performers or act out as a result of the presented medium. Weak-minded people do exist and will act upon a song’s lyrics or a movie’s content. But to say that one medium is more influential than the other is simply stupid because they both cater to the same audience, and quite effectively.
So herein lies the hypocrisy of Mr. Driscoll and his arguments against Marilyn Manson’s violence-based performance and lyrics. This is a case of the problem complaining about the problem – a Hollywood pop-culture purveyor protesting his own ilk.
Mr. Driscoll, the kind of person that probably protests movie censorship based on First Amendment Constitutional rights, is actually attempting to have a concert shut down (censored by any other word). How hypocritical can you get? Ask Mr. Driscoll.
Sure, the First Amendment works if you’re allowed to pursue your intended output, especially for monetary gain. But when it is somebody else’s right to free speech, then those rights can be suspended? I don’t think so.
I’m not really into Marilyn Manson. There’s nothing original about the guy or his music, but I do respect it for what it is – entertainment. I’ll save my real disdain for hypocritical intentions such as Mr. Driscoll’s because they tend to violate more than any lyrics or movie ever could.
So to Mr. Driscoll I offer the following advice: If you ever get out of the little island of Montecito to read this, remember the mantra of the entertainment industry to which you belong and contribute; it’s only a show, so deal with it.
Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.