How Parents And The Media Wrongfully Blamed Marilyn Manson For The Columbine Shooting

When tragedy strikes, it's human nature to search for an answer. However, this search can sometimes lead to misplaced blame. In the aftermath of the Columbine shooting, in which students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 13 classmates and teachers before shooting themselves, parents and the media set their sights on musician Marilyn Manson. While it was later revealed neither Klebold nor Harris were fans of Manson's music, he got a lot of negative publicity after the event and his career took a major hit.

The notion that Marilyn Manson is to blame for the Columbine shooting just goes to show how much people will lash out in order to make sense of a tragedy. Manson's career has recovered in recent years and he seems to be doing well for himself. With more and more mass shootings occurring in America, people are exploring more complex underlying causes and, often, music is blamed for violence.

Columbine ruined Marilyn Manson's career, according to the musician, and such a phenomena is both fascinating and sad. It demonstrates the psychology behind panic and how false stories can quickly become accepted as fact in the wake of tragedy. 

  • The Media Falsely Spread The Lie That The Shooters Were Manson Fans

    In the media frenzy that followed the Columbine shooting, some news outlets reported that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were fans of Marilyn Manson. Other false reports even stated Klebold and Harris were wearing Marilyn Manson t-shirts during the shooting. Not only were these statements about their clothing false, it later came out the shooters were not fans of Manson or his music in any capacity.

  • Manson's 2001 Concert In Denver Was Heavily Protested

    Manson's 2001 Concert In Denver Was Heavily Protested
    Photo: David C / YouTube

    While two years had passed since the Columbine massacre, the backlash against Manson was still going strong in June 2001. When Manson was scheduled to perform at the Mile High stadium in Denver it caused a month-long protest organized by the Citizens for Peace and Respect. This was a group made up of local priests, as well as families of Columbine victims.

    Protestors arrived at the stadium the night of the performance and passed out Christian literature to concertgoers while condemning Manson’s presence in their community. The group even gave away free tickets to a local amusement park to discourage kids from listening to Manson’s music. Despite their best efforts, Manson performed anyway.

  • Manson Was Blasted By Bill O'Reilly

    Manson Was Blasted By Bill O'Reilly
    Photo: LR / YouTube

    Manson appeared on The O’Reilly Factor’s “Children at Risk” segment in August 2001. During the interview, Manson attempted to defend himself against allegations that his music encouraged violence. O’Reilly opened the interview by asking Manson what message he meant to convey. Manson claimed his music was mostly about self-expression and was not meant to endorse or encourage any particular behavior.

    “It's always about being yourself and not being ashamed of being different or thinking different,” he said. “I try and take everyone's ideals, common morals, flip them around, make people look at them differently, question them, so that you're not always taking things for granted.”

    O’Reilly challenged this assertion, continually insisting Manson’s message could be easily misinterpreted. Manson deflected criticism throughout the interview but seemed relatively unsuccessful in swaying O'Reilly's thinking. 

  • Manson's Chosen Stage Name Is Itself A Condemnation Of Violence In The Media

    Manson penned an essay on the Columbine controversy for Rolling Stone in June 1999. Manson cited his own stage name, a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson, as evidence he was not a proponent of violence. His name was meant to be a commentary on how mass murderers are often as publicized as movie stars in the American media. 

    Manson expressed great concern about the massive amount of coverage the media grants to shootings and violence. Calling Klebold and Harris “dip-sh*ts,” Manson accused the media of following a longstanding pattern of turning killers into folk heroes. This, not popular music, is what Manson believes encourages further violence.