“The real strong have no need to prove it to the phonies” – Charles Manson. Charles Milles Manson was born in Cincinnati Ohio on November 12, 1934. Charles Manson becomes one of the most well-known American criminal and cult leaders ever throughout American history. In the mid-1960s, he formed a cult which later became known as Manson Family, a quasi-commune based in California. Manson’s followers committed a series of nine murders at four locations in July and August 1969 (Emmons 1). Each of these murders was not committed by Manson himself. But instead somehow manipulated his “Manson Family” cult group into doing the devils work for his to speak. Charles Manson is a perfect representation of Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Cultural Seven Theses.Thesis I The Monster’s Body Is A Cultural Body, Manson was committing these disturbing and horrendous murders all-around time when Woodstock and the Beatles were coming about. According to the California Parole Board, Manson had a history of manipulation, controlling behavior and mental illnesses which included schizophrenia and paranoid delusional behavior (Emmons 1). At the time all of America was being shifted to a Hippie era. Clothes, music, entertainment, speech, and even vehicles were all being shifted towards this new coming of age era. Charles Manson would eventually go on to change the course of history with these murders that he and his Manson Family committed in 1969.
On July 26th of 2019 Quentin Tarantino, released his 9th film which takes place in Hollywood around the same time the Charles Manson murders began. The title of this movie is called “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” throughout the movie, there are so many nostalgic moments and references occurring in the movie that took place during the actually Manson Family’s murders, but fans seem to not notice. In this particular Tarantino film, the movie revolves around two men. The first is an actor named Rick Dalton, who is finding himself at the end of an era in his acting career. The time has come and he is entering the beginning of a new era in Hollywood which is the so-called “Hippie Era” in the ’60s. The second man named Cliff Booth is Rick Dalton’s stunt double also a lifelong best friend who encounters the Mansion Family up by Spahn Ranch or other known as Spahn Movie Ranch. Spahn Ranch was 55 acres of property owned by Sharon M. Atkins, who had purchased the property in 1928 (Tarantino). Spahn Ranch was the actual place where Charles Manson and his family stayed (Tarantino). Tarantino tends to bend history at his own will even though the plot and storyline of the movie are not based on Charles Manson himself. They, however, do revolve around the murders that took place. Tarantino does play with the factual evidence that took place the day of the murders, the film gives the viewers a sense of what it was it like to live in the 1960s by showing us how they spoke, what they wore, how they viewed things, and even how they interacted with hippies.
At the age of 12 in 1947 Manson, was sent to Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana, for stealing. Over the next twenty years, he is in and out of reform schools and prison for various crimes (Emmons 1). Here we know that at a very young age during Manson’s young adolescent years he was in and out of prison and getting into trouble at a very young age. We can add that these events at a very young age caused him to have a manipulation personality, controlling behavior and mental illnesses (Emmons 1). On March 21, 1967, Charles Manson was released and upon being released Manson had this to say before leaving prison “Oh, no, I can’t go outside there…I knew that I couldn’t adjust to that world, not after all my life had been spent locked up and where my mind was free.” (Emmons 2). This is a clear indicator that Manson himself wasn’t mentally stable enough to step into a world of unknown mortalities, but went about it anyway even after saying he was ready. Cohen’s Monster Culture (Seven Theses) Thesis II: The Monster Always Escapes, is pretty near perfect when comparing this alongside to Charles Manson slowly but surely become the monster he is soon to become. Cohen states that “the monster itself turns immaterial and vanishes, to reappear someplace else”. In this case, for instance, Charles Manson was slowly becoming the horrendous societal monster that we all know today as one of America’s prestigious cult leader who manipulated an array of people to do his murders for him. For some reason, this could have all been avoided if the lawmen just listened to Manson and let him stay in prison. But unfortunately, prison nor the law do not work that way.
From 1967-1968 Manson meets Gary Hinman, a music teacher who introduces him to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys (Emmons 3). Then Manson has summoned a group of followers and the group moves to Spahn Ranch, outside of Chatsworth, California. Dennis Wilson introduces Manson to record producer Terry Melcher, the son of actress Doris Day (Emmons 3). After initially showing interest in Manson’s music, Melcher declines to work alongside Manson’s music career (Emmons 4). Than Melcher later moves out of his home on Cielo Drive, and the house is then leased to film director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate (Emmons 4). On July 27th, 1969, Gary Hinman was brutally killed by Manson’s followers Bobby Beausoleil, accompanied by Manson Family members Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins. As Gary Hinman laid helpless dying, Beausoleil, Atkins, and Brunner took turns smothering him with a pillow until they suffocated him. After they killed Hinman, Beausoleil wrote the words “Political piggy” on a wall behind him with Hinman’s blood, in an attempt to lead police to believe the murder was done by a group of radicals.
Hard to imagine a human being coming up with this concept of death and disturbing manifestation and having other partake in it.
Nuel Emmons, Charles Manson had developed “schizophrenia and paranoid delusional behavior” by the age of 15. “Anything you see in me is in you. If you want to see a vicious killer, that’s who you’ll see, do you understand that? If you see me as your brother, that’s what I’ll be. It all depends on how much love you have. I am you, and when you can admit that, you will be free. I am just a mirror.” – Rolling Stone interview, 1970. This quote by the monster himself Charles Manson. Thesis VI:Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire, Cohen’s says “the monster always attracts”. For some reason, the Manson Family grew larger as these murders were playing out like game chess with people’s lives.
Manson would go on to pass away at the age of eighty-three in 2017. Yet his legacy still lives on. Why is that? Cohen’s Monster (Culture Theses) that’s why. Thesis II:The Monsters Always Escapes, even though Charles Manson passed away 2 years ago. He has reappeared in media, shows, films, and documentary’s because we are so fascinated at the fact that he manipulated people into committing murders. In a way, I feel like Charles Manson was right about one thing. When we look at him we kind of are him in a way, some of us want to do or pretend to do the horrible things he did or manipulated people into doing the murders.
“I am you, and when you can admit that, you are free”- Charles Manson
CNN Library. “Manson Family Murders Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 31 July 2019, http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/30/us/manson-family-murders-fast-facts/index.html.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Manson, Charles. Without Conscience: Charles Manson in His Own Words / as Told to Nuel Emmons. 1988.
Margaritoff, Marco. “30 Mesmerizing Charles Manson Quotes That Are Weirdly Thought-Provoking.” All That’s Interesting, All That’s Interesting, 24 June 2019, allthatsinteresting.com/charles-manson-quotes.