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Phoenix Rising Part Two: The Marilyn Manson – Evan Rachel Wood Saga

Phoenix Rising
Phoenix Rising Part Two

 

The second part of “Phoenix Rising” reveals more about the abuse that Evan Rachel Wood allegedly endured during her relationship with Marilyn Manson: there’s a lot of crying, and we meet the other women who have allegedly been abused by the rock star, Sarah McNeilly, Ashley Morgan Smithline, former assistant Ashley Walters, and actress Esmé Bianco. Strangely, Bianco sits next to Evan Rachel Wood during the entire segment but doesn’t say a word. This is surprising since she has been very vocal about the subject in the press for a while: “He almost destroyed me”… and there was a time when she was everywhere. Her silence may be explained by her own lawsuit against Manson? However,  I wonder why she was even included. There is also a man named Dan Cleary, introduced as Marilyn Manson’s former assistant, who defends the women: “Do not call these women liars!” he wrote on his social media. The slight problem is that he was a guitar tech when Wood and Manson were dating, and he only became Manson’s assistant a few years later (2014-15, he tweeted it himself). This changes a bit the perspective despite his claims of having witnessed abuse, as a guitar tech would have had far less access than a personal assistant? As usual details matter, but “Phoenix Rising” often omits important details.

If true, the description of the abuse is horrendous. Wood keeps using the term torture, and she elaborates even more: besides the yelling, the sleep deprivation, and the freezing temperatures inside the house, she mentions rape during sleep, and drugs, lots of drugs, “he put meth into the drugs,” she says, adding she was covered with scabs. The problem is that she doesn’t bring any evidence of anything she says, it’s an ongoing discussion with the other “survivors,” her parents, her brother, but the only footage we are shown is a 30-second clip of Marylin Manson’s boots saying “…or I will kill you.” The tone is barely angry and there is no context at all, so this is a bit thin. I know that evidence is very probably difficult to provide in these situations, but they were constantly filming music videos, so cameras were around…the movie is making extremely serious accusations of rape and torture, which would require solid evidence and there is none.

At one point, we see screenshots of anonymous threats sent by alleged Manson fans, and if I have no doubt Wood has received some, it doesn’t prove that Manson “is a dangerous person.” Rather, the internet is a dangerous place. She leaves for the South because she is scared for her life, and this is when her son makes an apparition in the movie. There is a long segment of Wood interacting with her child in her Tennessee house, while she insists that she fears for her life and the life of her son. So why expose him in a movie? I understand that his face is hidden but we see his blonde hair, and we hear his voice. This part just seems to be there to bring more sympathy to Wood’s case, and once again, this manipulates the viewers.

Besides the screenshot of threatening messages, the movie doesn’t present any other evidence that her life was in danger, and her ex-husband Jamie Bell is never interviewed. Probably because her escapade to Tennessee was not approved by Bell, as he didn’t even know she had fled to the South with their son. In court papers obtained by the Daily Mail, you can read: “Evan’s story defies credibility” … “I frankly do not understand what is happening. Either Evan’s claims that she is receiving ‘death threats’ are true and Jack is not safe in her care, or they are not true and she is withholding our son from me for other reasons of her own invention.”…”As an actor myself, I am no stranger to threats, and many people I know who are public figures have had to take security precautions” … “I have received no indication from Evan that she has even a security guard in place.” Her ex-husband doesn’t really believe her, but, again, there is not a word about this in “Phoenix Rising.”

The way “Phoenix Rising” tries to manipulate its audience doesn’t serve the cause. This time, there is a lot of emphasis on Manson’s sympathy for Nazism and Wood even describes him tying her and whipping her with a Nazi whip (with a swastika on it) “because I am Jewish.” This simply seems too much, too theatrical, and too cliché. Just like the Hannukah scene at the end of the movie, which only seems to have been included to reinforce the Nazi allegations. If serious abuse took place, we don’t need the decorum.

The scenes with her father are the least credible of the entire movie. Wood tells us she went back to her father a few times, whereas he hadn’t been very present in her life. At a very low point of her relationship with Manson, she calls her father and tells him that she is suicidal and has tried to kill herself. He answers that he is in a middle of a play and gives her a friend’s number. Even the most estranged father on the planet would run when hearing that his daughter may kill herself. “I never got the message it was life-threatening,” he says. Is this even credible? Either he is the most emotionally inept person you can imagine, or the message was not exactly what she pretends, and she was not suicidal.

The abortion episode, and Mason’s cruel reaction – he allegedly asked her to make him dinner just after she had an abortion – triggered a lot of reactions, but we are never told if Wood was indeed carrying Manson’s child. We assume it was his child, but since they had an on-and-off relationship, and she had an abortion the same year that they broke up, this is a legitimate question. Meanwhile, the FBI scene is staged: they obviously could not film it but since we don’t get anything from it, it’s an empty scene and I wonder why it was even included. Just because a visit to the FBI means serious business? The movie drags a bit and gets a bit boring toward the end when Wood is waiting for an arrest that never comes. This led to the big scene: she posts the name of her abuser on social media and we get more crying. The ghost of her grandma or the Alice in Wonderland puzzle finished on time are the little spooky signs that will please a part of the audience; however, they made me cringe.

At the end of the episode, a nervous Wood checks the internet, her calendar, and declares that Manson’s arrestation “cannot come soon enough.” But this looks completely delusional: people do not get arrested based on various allegations and claims. Manson has denied all the accusations, and he has even filed a lawsuit (that you can download here) also making serious accusations: He claims that Wood and Illma Gore, who is abundantly featured in the movie, impersonated an FBI agent and forged a fictitious letter in order to create the false narrative that he was the subject of a federal criminal investigation. The lawsuit also claims that the two women provided checklists and scripts, listing specific acts of alleged abuse, when they recruited the other “victims.” The lawsuit provides some heavily redacted documents, and it’s difficult to know what you are looking at. In the end, this is a “she says/he says” situation, and “Phoenix Rising” hasn’t convinced me one way or the other.

We are left wondering: Is this a horrible failure of justice? Did this man rape and abuse all these women and got away with it? Things get a bit more complicated when you dig a few Instagram pages and, for example,  read about Esme Bianco’s taste for Torture Garden parties, fetish balls, “whip me and bite me” thighs” and BDSM. You can also find the same fantasies regarding other accusers. People have also dug some serious dirt around Illma Gore (this is just an example) and photos and court documents are not rumors. I would like Eva Rachel Wood to explain these happy photos of Manson and her parents (so much for the isolation) or this document who shows she was one of the art directors of the famous video “Heart-Shaped Glasses,” during which she claims she was rapped in front of the camera. I am only scratching the surface, as plenty of people are working very hard in the underground to gather information, while mainstream media have already decided Manson was guilty.

At a time when many abused and battered women have finally found a voice, it’s regrettable that all the attention is on such a nebulous case.

1 Comment

  1. Blinki on March 23, 2022 at 11:16 am

    Thank you for looking at this documentary with a serious critical mind. Your review has been on top and you added a lot of information that should have played a role in this documentary.
    I don’t know how someone can watch that movie and not asking questions about this illogical setup

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