Marilyn Manson, rock's notorious "antichrist superstar," whose onstage antics include shredding bibles and simulating animal sacrifices, might soon have a couple of new outrages under his belt: proposed laws in Michigan and South Carolina that would place ratings on live music concerts and prohibit minors from attending certain shows unless they're accompanied by an adult guardian.
The two Republican state legislators pushing such bills--South Carolina Rep. Daniel Tripp and Michigan Sen. Dale Shugars--both credit public outcry over Manson as inspiration. Tripp drove Manson out of South Carolina last year--but with his claws full of cash. Tripp pushed through a joint resolution banning Manson from performing in state-owned facilities, and the University of South Carolina's Carolina Coliseum--which had contracted with Manson for a performance--paid him not to play.
Though he's been talking about it to the press, Tripp won't introduce his bill until next year's legislative session. He says it would apply only to state-operated concert venues. "I've been playing around with the language," he says. "My bottom line is trying to make a difference, to let the public make an informed choice about what their kids see. That isn't accomplished if I introduce a bill with no chance of passing, or that's unconstitutional." Tripp sheepishly admits that the joint resolution forbidding a Manson show probably wouldn't stand up to constitutional scrutiny. He envisions a bill requiring bands, in their contracts with venues, to promise no obscene elements in their performance to avoid an X rating.
The Michigan bill is out of committee, but Shugars spokesman Mark Michaelsen says proponents are temporarily delaying a floor vote "to see if venues and Ticketmaster can come up with counterproposals that would achieve the same end but work better for them."
The proposals are catching flak from some industry reps, including Recording Industry Association of America President Hilary Rosen. Rosen wrote to a Michigan senator that the bill "actually stifles expression before it happens....Conditioning expression on government's review of that expression empowers the government to control what its citizens can and cannot hear." Both Tripp and Shugars say their bills are not prohibitive but merely informative--and constitutionally in line with existing obscenity laws.
Michigan legislative aide Michaelsen says recent events demand immediate action. "What's really distressing the senator and myself is the fact that guys who have been involved in shooting rampages in Oregon and Pennsylvania are Marilyn Manson fans," Michaelsen says. "There are some concerts where impressionable kids who can take the lyrics of shock rock a little too seriously just shouldn't be."