By Lee Cumberland
We want to see Marilyn Manson without makeup. We want to see the man behind the monster. We want to see Boba Fett unmasked. We want to see the face of the man who has given life to one of movie history’s most famous and enigmatic villains.
We want to see that our heroes are just like us, and we want to see that the bogeyman does not really exist.
It is a fact that in today’s entertainment industry we expect our celebrities to participate in the same social media activities that we do. For the most part, many musicians, actors, athletes, etc do make their own public appearances on platforms like twitter and facebook. In some cases, it even gets them into a lot of hot water when not used carefully.
Some celebrities have become legendary in their usage of such social media – George Takei on facebook and Iron Sheik on twitter immediately come to mind – especially interesting considering the age of these two fellows in relation to the technology. Others have come close to ruining their careers with it – definitely don’t need to name any of those ones or this article would drag on and on…
The ultimate end goal of our constant monitoring of these celebrities is to feel close to them. They are using the same social media we are, therefore they are just like us. It’s an exciting and empowering thought that these larger than life people become our equals online.
So why do we obsess over needing to see what Marilyn Manson without makeup looks like? Just like KISS in the 1970’s, his public image is inseparably linked to his stage persona. Artists who BECOME the art they produce are the most fascinating of all. We long to see their human face. For us, the artist in disguise is an even more alien figure, and it makes our urge to be reassured of their humanity even more so.
It is a long standing tradition in rock music history for intelligent, kind and musically proficient individuals to use a “mask” – an alter-ego – to present their work. Vincent Damon Furnier wants you to experience his music the way Alice Cooper delivers it. Dave Brockie wants you to experience the epic shock rock of GWAR with Oderus Urungus fronting the band. The Blue Man Group want you to only see blue hairless beings when you experience their music, and the Residents want you to….well, the Residents want to think they are insane.
Friends of mine here in Canada that are largely industry professionals (the band/sideshow New Jacobin Club – a music teacher, an art teacher, a dance instructor, a classical musician, a model, an electrician) –also operate behind a social “mask” not unlike Marilyn Manson, KISS and Alice Cooper. They have been through the social wringer on many occasions for their outrageous activities in the name of art & entertainment, even attracting attention when their show has been nearly banned for its content. And still, I laugh a little on the inside when I see one of them in public buying a bag of kitty litter or sharing an ice cream with their kid at the mall. I laugh because it’s true in the end, they are just like me.
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