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Ten Thoughts and Observations I Had Rewatching Evan Rachel Wood's "Phoenix Rising" (Part One)

When the two-part documentary Phoenix Rising aired on HBO on March 15th and 16th 2022, I saw it and immediately wrote my review of part two, having already written my review of part one when I saw its premiere at Sundance over a month earlier. I didn't have much time to process it at the time, because it has a lot of information, and with limited space to write about it in a limited time, there was only so much you could address. After watching the documentary about 3 or 4 times, I realized I could easily write a book with all I had to say. Now that some time had passed since I last saw it, I just rewatched the documentary this past week on the anniversary of its premiere, and there were things that stood out to me that I didn't either capture a year ago or didn't have enough knowledge at the time to better comprehend. I will try to summarize my thoughts and observations into a list of ten things I wanted to address, though it could easily be more than ten, choosing five t

Kanye West Sends Message of Redemption for Marilyn Manson

Kanye West brought out Marilyn Manson at his Donda album listening party that just took place at Chicago’s Soldier Field, which was live-streamed globally via Apple Music.

Manson appeared on the stoop of a church-like structure built in the center of the stadium. When photos of the construction of the structure circulated online before the event, many noted its resemblance to West’s childhood home. A notable difference however was the crucifix on top, transforming it into a church building.

Manson, along with a masked figure many online thought to be DaBaby, who has been facing his own controversies these days with what many say was a homophobic rant, walked out onto the porch alongside West as the first song of the event, rumored to be titled "Jail", began to play, which usually has featured a guest verse from Jay-Z, but at tonight's event a verse from DaBaby replaced it, seemingly calling out the controversy surrounding him: “I said one thing they ain’t like and they threw me out like the garbage.”

Manson for the most part just stood or sat there on the porch as the show went on.

As far as media reaction, they weren't overall too bad, but here are some notable headlines:

- "Kanye West Brings Out a Homophobe and an Accused Rapist" (The Daily Beast)

- "Attention Hungry Kanye West Brings Gay Bashing DaBaby & Alleged Sexual Assaulter Marilyn Mansion On Stage For Donda Listening Party, Kim Kardashian Throws On A Wedding Dress" (Radar Online)

- "Kanye West brings out disgraced artists Marilyn Manson and DaBaby at his Donda listening event" (Geeky Craze)

- "Why was Marilyn Manson at 'Donda' event? Fans utterly 'disappointed' with Kanye West" (Meaww)
- "Kanye West makes statement at Donda listening party as he brings out disgraced artists DaBaby and Marilyn Monroe who was seen for first time since sexual assault allegations" (Daily Mail)

Yes, Daily Mail did really write "Marilyn Monroe" (it will probably be corrected very soon).

Manson fans were obviously excited to see him after many months of silence, but he trended on Twitter with mainly jokes about how out of place he looked hanging out with a bunch of rappers on the porch of a church, and there were of course some negative comments also. Many Kanye fans even expressed complete disgust that he brought out Manson.

Besides the surprise in seeing Manson at Kanye's side, everyone wondered why Manson was there in the first place.

The fact that Kanye was flanked by two canceled and controversial figures, and he being a controversial figure himself, standing on the porch of a church with a crucifix above them, as Kanye sings music with the message of the Christian gospel, makes it sort of obvious that there is a message of redemption that Kanye wants to convey. The redemption that seems to be implied is a redemption from being cast away and voiceless in the midst of controversy and accusation. Kanye has been vocal in the past about the unfair treatment of the media and the entertainment industry in general at the first hint of controversy, prematurely rendering a guilty verdict primarily due to corporate greed and fear.

It is worth recalling how not long after Manson was falsely accused of the Columbine massacre over 20 years ago, Eminem also defended Manson and performed with him and collaborated with him in projects.

A rep for Marilyn Manson has confirmed through Newsweek that his voice will appear in Donda and will collaborate with him on the related project.
Marilyn Manson with his wife Lindsay Usich

It is not clear whether or not Kanye believes Manson is innocent of what he is accused of, but it appears he is at least convicted by his Christian beliefs to not pass judgment and condemn someone who has not faced due process.

One thing is for sure - this is a positive development for Marilyn Manson. Kanye will get a lot of heat for this, but like Manson he has faced a lot of heat in the past and for this friendly and highly controversial gesture he should be commended.
Additional Note: We should not overlook the Holy Wood era black stripe makeup. I do believe this has significance, as this was the same black stripe that Manson wore in the Guns, God and Government tour during the Holy Wood era, symbolic of a victorious warrior in battle, a scapegoat, as well as innocence in a similar era of false accusation. 
Update 1: It appears that Raphael Saadiq, who took a photo with Manson last night, now has regrets for posting it on Instagram after getting backlash. See his statement here. Kim Kardashian also is said to have been "blindsided" by his appearance, and through a rep said she would not have participated in the show if she knew Manson was involved.

Update 2 (August 29): This morning Kanye West released Donda, where Marilyn Manson can be heard singing in the chorus of the track "Jail, Pt. 2". This is the first time since we have heard from Manson since the beginning of February. According to Kanye, he was not aware of the release, and when Universal initially released it, the only song missing from streaming platforms was "Jail, Pt. 2", apparently because the management of DaBaby had not approved his verse on the track.

Update 3 (August 29): Since August 28 when Manson showed up onstage with Kanye, Evan Rachel Wood has been displaying on Instagram how triggered and horrible it made her feel to see Manson on stage again, which led to a post on Instagram today of her singing an unrehearsed version of "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals, which she dedicated to "fellow survivors". When she got to the point where Manson's name was going to be mentioned, she grinned and paused to emphasize his name and gave him the middle finger salute, to the confusion of and some cheers in the audience of thirty or so. She opened the song by saying: "I've been saving this but it seems like the appropriate time." This performance took place on August 28th at the Bourbon Room in Los Angeles. Clearly, Evan used this song by the New Radicals to show her radical obsession with Manson and her mission to destroy him in order to prop up her victim image which lends itself to her activism.

Update 4 (September 2): As the ridiculous negative press continues this week condemning Manson's presence at the Donda listening party and on the album, Rapper Westside Gunn took to Instagram this morning with a photo of himself together with Manson from the Donda listening party with a brave message of truth. Unfortunately, many of his fans didn't want to hear it, which probably led to his management persuading him to take down the post from Instagram, though it continues to remain up on his Twitter page.