Robert Main is not your average teacher.
His blue hair, piercings and studded belt would make you think he was the one taking the class instead of teaching it.
Monday afternoon Main handed over the reigns to an equally outlandish, albeit more-famous individual.
Clad in a black suit and silver-tipped high rise boots, rocker Marilyn Manson took on the role of teacher in Main’s Art and Society class for the mtvU show Stand In.
Manson entered the Barton Hall classroom to the delight of the students and scrawled “Mr. Manson” on the chalkboard.
The focus of the class is the definition and interpretation of art and the role it plays in contemporary culture, but the substitute for the day quickly expressed his views on art, politics and being an individual.
“I think the concept of going to a museum is just boring. I want to remind people that art is about expression,” Manson said. “It’s supposed to be fun. You don’t have to be a painter, but there’s a difference between where your heart is. I can be a painter who paints houses or a painter who paints what comes out of my head.”
The art Manson speaks of has manifested itself in several ways during his career. Lately he has been producing his own artwork in addition to touring. His stage shows have featured imagery consisting of political themes; usually military uniforms or take offs of flags and other political items.
A logo for his 1997 release, Antichrist Superstar consists of an American flag with it’s field of stars replaced with a lightning bolt in a circle.
“I always try to explain to people that art is far more important than politics,” Manson said.
“With politics when you go to bed at night, you don’t think about who your governor, your senator is. You think about a picture you saw. A movie you watched. A book you read. A song you heard.”
Manson first started performing in the early 1990s during George H.W. Bush’s administration and said he gained inspiration for his music during that time.
“Having that sort of Republican element makes you want to push the boundary more,” Manson said.
Manson urged students not to limit their creativity by conforming to limitations put on them by others as was exhibited by government actions after Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl appearance.
“The worst form of censorship is people censoring themselves,” Manson said.
Reaction to Manson’s visit was resoundingly positive.
“I thought it was really interesting to hear his ideals up close and personal,” junior Rachel Spector said. “I think he thinks more outside the box and that’s what we we’ve been trying to do in this class.”
“I think he did wonderfully,” Main said. “He touched on a lot of the topics we’d be focusing on. He got people to talk that I can’t even get to talk.”
Philosophy Chairperson Phillip Alperson echoed praise for the outlandish guest speaker.
“I liked the idea that Marilyn Manson takes great care with his words,” Alperson said. “Words matter to him. To have a rockstar taking that much care with the way he expresses himself; that means a lot.”
Started in January, mtvU broadcasts music and college-related programming to over 700 campuses across the country. It reaches Temple students on channel 41.
Manson’s visit is just the latest in mtvU’s Stand In series. Earlier this year Sen. John Kerry (D) taught an American Foreign Policy class at the University of New Hampshire. In February, Jesse Jackson lectured at a Racism and the Law class at Atlanta’s Spelman College.
Last week rapper Snoop Dogg took part in a University of Southern California football practice.
Manson wasn’t just in Philadelphia for the day. He was in town for his “Against All Gods” tour Sunday night at the Electric Factory.
“We knew that Marilyn wanted to do something around this time and he was in the vicinity,” Caroline Elliot of mtvU Univeristy Relations said. “The stars kind of aligned for this class to take place.”
If you skipped class and missed Manson’s visit, you can see it Dec 6. at noon on mtvU.
Lucas K. Murray can be reached at LukeMurray33@yahoo.com.