This week, cult leader and killer Charles Manson was rushed to Bakersfield’s Mercy Hospital to get treated for a nasty case of gastrointestinal bleeding. Manson is now 82, the victim of a lot of mysterious ailments that can only be linked to old age, and possibly to the eating prison food for over four decades. But all this is beside the point. The point being:
Why is Charles Manson still alive?
It’s baffling. Not only the fact that he’s physically alive and upright (we’ve all seen Oz–is prison not like that after all?!) it’s that he’s alive and well in public consciousness. Manson–for all the time he’s been rotting away behind bars–is one of our most vibrant cultural icons. His cult, his “family”, his infamous 1969 murder spree that claimed the life of Sharon Tate and her unborn child, have all served as inspiration for some of the most ghoulishly amazing studies of human character in the decades since. A cursory glance at his IMDB character page reveals a host of documentaries, fiction films, and parodies. In this year alone, there’s the Lifetime series “Manson’s Lost Girls”, and the famous million-dollar advance getting book The Girls by Emma Cline.
Manson might be near death, but his grip on his hasn’t loosened one iota. Will it ever?
There are plenty of true crime stories out there that mix sex, mind control, and a glamorous locale together to create a truly unforgettable murder experience. But when it comes to Manson, there’s little else out there that can capture the utterly fascinating creepiness that Manson’s misadventures call to mind. It’s made even better by the fact that Manson just keeps getting into trouble in prison, online and IRL. Whatever it was that made all those women fall in love with him back in the ’60s, our current culture is holding on to a hard case of it while coming up its 40-year anniversary.
Call it obsession. Call it fascination. Call it making a big deal over the really sick problem our culture has with romanticizing murderers. Whatever it is, we’re up against it. And it’s quickly becoming clear that Manson is going to outlive us all.