The word “slut” was painted on his forehead, an expletive hand-drawn onto a black T-shirt. A Bible rested beside him on the ground.
Cyrus was there to see the band Marilyn Manson perform. He was one of the first people in a long line for a sold-out show.
The 17-year-old is part of a new generation of Americans who have discovered Marilyn Manson’s music. Cyrus’ first earful of Manson’s chaotic brand of rock music was “Fight Song,” which he heard in Michael Moore’s film, Bowling for Columbine.
On Feb. 5, 1997, the teen might not have been able to wait for those doors to open without facing a group of proselytizing Christians.
That was then
Marilyn Manson’s Dead to the World tour, which ran from 1996 to 1997, made a stop in Oklahoma City that day. In the month leading up to the show, a group called Oklahomans for Children and Families (OCAF) petitioned the Oklahoma City Council to block the show. They collected more than 20,000 signatures, but ultimately failed.
The council asked the venue, the State Fair Park, to consider terminating the contract with the artist. Fair officials chose not to, arguing that doing so would invite litigation from the band.
Instead, OCAF and its supporters had to settle on an enhanced police presence on alert for any violations of state laws by the band.
Rep. Paul Wessehoft, R-Moore, was the spokesman for OCAF at the time of Manson’s 1997 visit. He said the police did not report that Manson’s performance violated any rules, but he still believes his group made an impact.
“The fact that we brought all the pressure made them circumspect, made them conscious of not violating the law,” Wesselhoft said.
Tim Roundtree, 34, was at that concert in 1997, as well as last week’s appearance. He recalled Manson’s reaction to the band of Christian protesters outside the venue before the show: “He said the people outside were going to hell.”
This is now
So why was no one standing outside the Diamond Ballroom in 2012, thumping Bibles and singing Psalms?
“It’s strange to know that a lot of shit that I was almost killed for seems utterly irrelevant to people now,” Manson said in the March issue of Revolver magazine.
Cyrus suggested that the lack of protest is due to a cultural paradigm shift.
“Personally, after 9/11, I think things changed,” he said. “Things got more serious because people weren’t worrying about [Marilyn Manson] so much; they started worrying about
more political things.”
Indeed, in the last six months, gay rights have taken center stage in American politics and media, and abortion has become the flagpole of women’s rights, with every side scrambling to reach the top first.
In Oklahoma, hot debates have erupted this spring over the now-stagnant personhood bill, which sought to grant constitutional protections to fertilized human eggs.Wesselhoft said that since being elected to office, he has not been approached by any groups hoping to block a controversial performance. But he has had a lot of people approach him about abortion.
“Pro-life issues are very important,” he said.
Wesselhoft also offered another possibility.
“Our culture has become more tolerant of musical acts and other forms of entertainment that a decade or two ago we would object to,” he said. “Our culture is slipping toward Gomorrah.”
Whether it is thanks to a change in political priorities, cultural focus or desensitization, the folks attending the May 15 concert were able to wait in peace.
When asked about the absence of Christian protesters, some people at the front of the line said, “They’re at the Thunder game.”