Paris Jackson, Marilyn Manson, Teen Depression and Suicide
Anthony J. Piccione
So I haven't really focused much on what's been going on in the news TOO MUCH lately, as I've been busy with the recent reading and currently rewriting of my play, We The People. But one thing I did manage to catch, which I'm sure most people reading this blog already have heard about, was the recent attempt of Paris Jackson to commit suicide. Like anyone else who probably heard about this, I couldn't help but sympathize with Paris, as I myself have gone through similar dark periods in my own teenage life. That said, the fact that she is famous and is the daughter of a music icon such as Michael Jackson, admittedly made me curious as to exactly what led to her cutting herself in an attempt to end her life...
So I looked it up a bit more on the internet, and I came across a bit of information on TMZ that caught my eye. While there certainly were other likely reasons behind the suicide attempt, such as the lingering pain over the loss of her famous father, there was one thing that preceded the attempt that may have also been a factor: Paris had wanted to go see an upcoming Marilyn Manson concert that she was forbidden from attending, and was apparently VERY upset about it. After hearing this himself, Manson had later expressed support for Paris in a statement released to TMZ, and dedicated one of his songs during the concert to Paris. The controversy here, as one could imagine, was that the song that was dedicated to Paris that night was called "Disposable Teens". I think it is worth talking a little bit about the message in such music and performances, why it may resonate with people like Paris, and how it is controversial and often misinterpreted.
First let me say, I myself was a big fan of Marilyn Manson's during my early high school years. And while I can say with certainty that I am in no state of darkness or extreme depression today, I'm not ashamed to say that I still like Marilyn Manson even now, except now it is for different reasons that in the past, but that's another story for another time. So as someone who was bullied and frequently thought about suicide in high school, I speak from personal experience when I say that I certainly understand the appeal that controversial musicians such as Marilyn Manson or Kurt Cobain - another favorite of young Paris - have among teenagers who are going through tough times, be it due to the loss of a parent or severe bullying at school, the latter of which I suffered as well during high school. Music, especially a certain kind of music with certain themes in the lyrics, CAN help you cope with bad feelings that you are experiencing. If you are angry and sad, it can help you to know that you're not alone by listening to music that expresses similar feelings to the ones that you have at the time. At least that was the feeling that I had at that time, and I'm sure that's how other teenagers today, such as Paris Jackson, must feel in similar situations.
Now, are there people out there who interpret the lyrics at times to mean that suicide is the right answer? Of course there are. Indeed, there was a time during the 1990s when Manson was blamed - arguably unfairly - for every single suicide and school shooting that happened in America, despite not directly being involved in any of those cases. The same can easily be said for Ozzy Osbourne, another legendary shock rocker who was blamed for these sorts of cases during the 1970s and 1980s. But these people who commit these acts are the ones who completely misinterpret the message of the music. Indeed, if one were to speak directly to Marilyn Manson about the impact his music has, he would likely say that it is about getting through feelings that may lead to violence or suicide, and that they advocate positive things such as individuality, being yourself regardless of what others say, and not conforming to the standards that conservative America sets for society. Not the kind of acts that people typically associate the music with. As someone who thought frequently about suicide all the way through my senior year of high school, I probably took the lyrics too far myself earlier in my life. As an adult, I've come to have a whole different interpretation on the meaning of the lyrics. Today, I can listen to the music when I'm upset, or when I'm not upset even, and it helps me feel better to hear about those kinds of things. Yet now, I'm in a place in my life where I know that certain things I thought about doing a long time ago are not the way to go, and I know that even as I listen. But Paris' example shows clearly that people out there still do misunderstand the music, both to their own peril and to the peril of others. I wish this wasn't the case, but apparently it is...
So while I highly doubt that Paris Jackson is reading this, but I would like to say something in case she or any other depressed teenager out there comes across this blog: I know it may sound like empty words sometimes when people say that "Suicide is not the answer". But I can tell you that people say it often because it is the truth. Especially during my freshman year of high school, it seemed as if I would always be bullied and alone, never be successful, and be hindered in life by the cruelty of other people, all of whom would never consider being friends with me. But over time - particularly during my late high school years, a and especially in my early college years - I learned that was far from the truth. I thought about suicide, but for some reason, I never did it. And what happened? I survived high school and went on to college, I discovered a passion for theatre and writing that helped me find my calling in life, I had at least a few friends in my life who I have fun with, I have a fairly good relationship with my family, and I am on my way toward hopefully having some new success as a playwright, teaching artist, actor and blogger. And my high school years of being bullied and alone are nothing more than a tiny part of my past that is well beyond where I am now. Not too bad, if you ask me. So it's okay to be sad, or even angry, about what's going on in life. It's even okay to listen to someone listen Marilyn Manson when you feel this way. But suicide, and most certainly not violence, will not solve your problems. They would merely ruin the future life that you could potentially have some day. It may not come for a while, and it certainly may not come as a teenager. But you'll never know if you don't make it through this tough years first, which I can say with certainty will matter very little in the big picture that is life. As they say in those YouTube videos..."It gets better". It really does.
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Paris Jackson, Marilyn Manson, Teen Depression and Suicide