Holy Wood (In The Shadow of The Valley of Death) - Concept


"'Holy Wood'—which isn't even that great of a hyperbole of America—is a place where an obituary is just another headline. Where if you die and enough people are watching, then you're famous."

—Marilyn Manson on the album's concept.

The album's plot is a "parable" that takes place in a thinly-veiled satire of modern America called "Holy Wood", which Manson has described as a Disneyesque amusement park the size of a city, where the main attraction is violence and sex. Its literary foil is "Death Valley", which is used as "a metaphor for the outcast and the imperfect of the world."

The central character is its ill-fated protagonist "Adam Kadmon", a figure borrowed from the Kabbalah, in which he is described as the "Primal Man". In the similar Sufic and Alevi philosophies, he is described as the "Perfect or Complete Man"—an archetype for humanity. He undertakes a journey out of Death Valley and into Holy Wood. Idealistic and naïve, he attempts a subversive revolution through music.

While disenchanted when his revolution is consumed by Holy Wood's ideology of "Guns, God and Government", he is co-opted into their culture of death and fame, where celebrity worship, violence, and scapegoatism are held as the moral values of a religion rooted in martyrdom. In this religion dead celebrities are venerated into saints and President John F. "Jack" Kennedy is idolized as the modern-day Christ.

This religion, called "Celebritarianism", is a deliberate parallel of Christianity. The intention is to critique the dead-celebrity phenomenon in American culture and the role that the Crucifixion of Jesus plays as its blueprint. This concept was extended to the worldwide Guns, God and Government Tour that supported the album; the tour's logo was a rifle and handguns arranged to resemble the Christian cross.

Manson told Rolling Stone that the storyline is semi-autobiographical. While it can be viewed on several levels, Manson states the simplest interpretation is to see it as a story about an angry youth whose revolution becomes commercialized, which leads him to "destroy the thing he has created, which is himself."

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