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Cake and Sodomy
Artist: Marilyn Manson
Album: Portrait of an American Family
Year: 1994
: Marilyn Manson was my gr. 10 rite of passage into goth-dom. When I decided I was going to start wearing all black -- from eyeliner to heavy boots -- I decided I had to start listening to Marilyn Manson. So -- to HMV, where I was in the habit of picking up full discographies of artists based on whimsical decisions. The first album I listened to was Antichrist Superstar, and I loved it instantly. That growling and the dark industrial mood I was hoping for were nestled between well-written hooks and instrumentation, making it accessible -- maybe not to the pure pop-loving teenager, but definitely to those on the bridge to finding newer, more interesting music. Mechanical Animals, a Bowie/glamrock-influenced concept album, cemented my love, and my adolescent self happily proclaimed the genius of Manson.

But then I listened to Portrait of an American Family --- and the sense of absolute discomfort, the unbelievably disturbed feeling I get when I hear a track from that album...has not, to this day, gone away completely. This album, from the cover art to the lyrics to the unsettling, unpolished music, makes my insides squirm. It makes me feel like I don't belong in my own skin: it, maybe more than any piece of media I own, scares me. Manson (or, really, Brian Warner) was very evidently exorcizing his young demons on this album; it created some for me.

Now, I swear like a truck driver, and I have since I was 12. There is little holding me back from inserting an emphatic "FUCK" into public (or, perhaps problematically, hah, professional) conversation, and I rarely feel uncomfortable doing so. I rarely feel uncomfortable doing most things, actually -- but I love, I love, the feeling of being disturbed, of having my seemingly solid self-structure subverted. So this album, while it admittedly still creeps me the fuck out, holds a somewhat twisted place in my heart --

and "Cake and Sodomy" stands above the rest. It, more than the rest of the album, has a melody; something that might even get stuck in your head. But it's loud, and it's angry, and it thumps along, with the shock value characteristic of that period of the Manson discography. Set aside the title, already a shockpiece -- this song holds nothing back. Lyrics like "who said date rape isn't kind?" or "go on and smile, you cunt" or "white trash get down on your knees / time for cake and sodomy" are meant to get a reaction. But there's something so sing-songy about the whole thing, the repeated "I am the god of fuck" line, and I inevitably find myself dancing, my lip curled up in some facsimile of antique Mansonian anger, pounding my feet and revisiting the discomfort I felt when I first heard this song.

Nowadays, it pumps me up more than it freaks me out. Some of the subversion has faded, like hearing "fuck" so many times that it loses its meaning. But there is still something powerful about it, something strong in the rage and fury and disgusting images -- much as there is still, simply by virtue of it being forbidden, power in a swear word. I've said it before and I will say it again: a well-placed "fuck" in conversation can, positively or negatively, change the course of it. There are few other words with that kind of immediate strength.

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