Essay on Helter Skelter - Manson vs. the Myth

Essay on Helter Skelter - Manson vs. the Myth

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Helter Skelter - Manson vs. the Myth


[1] “I walk your streets and am right out there with you,” boasted serial killer Charles Manson almost twenty years after being sentenced to life in prison (Emmons 227). Most people would probably dismiss this statement as the delusional ranting of a madman, yet, were they to examine the attention of and, possibly, the influence on society that Manson has had and continues to have, they would be forced to admit that there is some truth to Manson’s proclamation.

[2] When Manson and his so-called Family members went on trial in 1969 for the gruesome Tate-LaBianca slayings, the media took instant notice of Manson’s “hypnotic” and “charismatic personality. Rolling Stone magazine plastered Manson’s face on the cover of its June 25, 1970 issue, while the underground newspaper Tuesday’s Child spread his picture across its front page, a banner naming him “Man of the Year” (Bugliosi 296 and see the image gallery). And it was not only the more radical press that thrust Manson into the limelight. Outside the court building, an exuberant Family member was heard bragging, “Charlie made the cover of Life!” (Bugliosi 279).

[3] Yet rather than evoking disgust and contempt for Manson, the media kindled admiration and respect for the killer. At the time of the trial, 60s radical Bernardine Dohrn told a Students for a Democratic Society convention, “Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson” (Bugliosi 296). Yippie Jerry Rubin exclaimed, “I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on TV” (Bugliosi 296). Rubin later wrote in his book We Are...


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...e victims’ that is plastered on T-shirts, baby clothes, and magazine covers? After all, Manson did not commit the murders, he only urged others to kill. And why, as we’re watching Gries’s film, do we nod off during the collection of evidence scenes and anxiously await the next shot of Manson’s gaze in haunting close-up?



Works Cited

Bugliosi, Vincent, and Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., Inc., 1974.

Emmons, Nuel. Manson in His Own Words: The Shocking Confessions of "The Most Dangerous Man Alive." New York: Grove Press, 1986.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Blonde. New York: Harper Collins, 2000.

Rosen, Steve. "Rock's Dark Side: Manson Resurrected as an Anti-'60s Icon." The Denver Post (April 17, 1994): pg. F-01. Online. Internet. 5 June 2001. Available: Lexis-Nexis Universe.

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