October 13th, 1999

Charles Manson

(First appeared in NME’s Banging On section in 1999. Little cunt)

It’s 30 years since Charles Manson dispatched a posse of his disciples to uptown LA to murder a bunch of showbiz-affiliated “pigs”, including Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski. The event is being commemorated in Hollywood with an exhibition staging a photographic recreation of the events featuring underground “faces” including ex-members of MC5 and The New York Dolls.

The anniversary of the slayings, coupled with the build-up of pre-millennial tension among the more feeble-minded, should mean that we’re about to hear a lot about Manson and his goons. In the otherwise ultra-pacifist world of rock’n’roll, Charles Manson is regarded fondly, as an icon even. He’s honoured by good old old Marilyn, as well as in innumerable “Charlie Don’t Surf” t-shirts. He’s seen as rock’n’roll’s ultimate revenge on the bourgeoisie, an Angel Of Death who’d divined from the lyrics of The Beatles a hidden message urging him to overthrow society. An ultra-cool little fucker, man.

Let’s remember what Charlie was really about. Sitting in the desert with his addled hippie chicks and demented bikers, here was the plan he hatched. By instigating random murders of rich white folks, Manson hoped to spark off a race war in the USA, since blacks would erroneously be blamed for the massacres. In spite of being outnumbered in America one to ten, the blacks would somehow win this race war. Meanwhile, Charlie and his followers would be camped out in the desert for the duration, only to re-emerge once the blacks had triumphed. Whereupon, being black and therefore having no idea how to run society, they would turn to Charlie and his crew for leadership, whereupon Charlie planned to kick them back to the cotton fields where they belonged and assume leadership of the USA.

This, then, is our “ultra-cool” rock’n’roll icon, cherished by avant-goths everywhere – a loathsome little racist and a complete and utter fuckwit. Not so cool. All he’s good for is demonstrating the dangers of bad rock criticism in his take on The Beatles’ White Album but also, as with Hitler, the dangers of upsetting bad artists – what was really annoying him was that he couldn’t get a recording contract for his dubious folk songs. What Charlie deserves isn’t iconic status but to stay down the hole he’s in right now, forgotten by the outside world, mocked and occasionally buggered. Charlie is not just bad but sad. Don’t do him, kids.

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