Marilyn Manson caused a fair amount of outrage in San Bernardino on Sunday when, on the day of yet another mass shooting — Sunday’s in Texas, where 26 people were killed — he turned a fake gun on his concert audience in a city that itself saw 14 people killed in a 2015 shooting.
On Monday afternoon, the singer issued a statement about the move, calling it “an act of theater in an attempt to make a statement.”
“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.”
Video footage shows Manson pointing the gun at the crowd from a wheelchair — the concert was his first since his leg was shattered by a falling stage prop in September — as he sings “We Know Where You F—ing Live” while a stagehand in medical scrubs wheels him around the stage. The gun was obviously fake (it had a microphone inside it), but a less ambiguous “statement” may have made his point more clear.
While the media uproar on Monday was considerable, Kelli Skye Fadroski, a reporter for the San Bernardino Sun, said the crowd’s reaction was less extreme.
“Coming on the eve of a mass shooting at a church in Texas, Manson could have had a bit more tact, but it’s Manson,” she wrote. “He has always aimed for the shock value or to be provocative and though some that were in the crowd thought it was ‘lame,’ the stunt didn’t seem to truly bother anyone else, especially with the handful of San Bernardino sheriffs standing on either side of the stage.”
The incident was the latest in a string of harsh events for Manson in recent weeks: He fired longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez (Jeordie White) ast month after a former girlfriend accused the musician of sexual assault, and on Oct. 23, founding guitarist Daisy Berkowitz (Scott Putesky) died after a long struggle with cancer.