Creepy Crawling by Jeffrey Melnick
Arcade Publishing: 7/17/18
eBook review copy: 352 pages
Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most
Infamous Family by Jeffrey Melnick is a highly recommended
scholarly examination of the after effects of the Manson Family's
actions and the lasting impact on culture today.
"'Creepy crawling' was the Manson Family's practice of secretly
entering someone's home and, without harming anyone, leaving only a
trace of evidence that they had been there, some reminder that the
sanctity of the private home had been breached."
August 9 and 10, 2019, will mark fifty years since the Manson Family
murders. The sixties counterculture, Manson, and the Tate-LaBianca
murders still pervaded pop culture today and can be found in art, music,
books, films, etc. Melnick explores why Manson and the girls captured
the social, political, and cultural events of the past fifty years and
still influences many cultural expressions today. It began with a
complicated social revolution started in the sixties and marked the end
of the decade with murder. Melnick is not concerned with recounting the
horrific crimes. In this work he is more concerned with examining the
ongoing presence of Manson and the Family in our current culture.
Melnick also takes some exception to the "cultural script" as an explanation for the actions of the
Manson Family as explained by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in his 1974
book Helter Skelter, along with others who wrote about Manson and
the girls, like Joan Didion and Todd Gitlin. He feels that Manson
became a weapon that was used to tamp down the growth of the sixties
counterculture and portray it as a completely negative.
The Manson family wasn't the only communal community bonding together as
their own kind of family. The counterculture and freak culture was
rising and had a firm foothold in California in both San Fransisco and
Los Angeles. It is a complicated amalgamation of a myriad of cultural
components that all resulted in the sixties counterculture, where not
all the participants were psychotic murderers. Many were runaways,
believe in free love, experimented with drugs, expressed themselves
musically, and wanted to create their own kind of family.
Certainly Manson dominated his followers and required that they submit
to his authority. For many of his followers, escaping from bad homes,
Manson's "family" provided some measure of acceptance, but with a weird
twist of submission and sexual availability. It has always been
disconcerting for me that Manson basically established a patriarchy,
lived off the efforts of the women, and expected them to serve and
First it should be noted again that is not a sensationalized true crime
account of the murders. This is a well-documented academic examination
of the cultural influences of Manson and his family. My review copy
contained a plethora of endnotes and a list of works consulted,
including print and online, and video documentaries, and websites, and
those with which he personally communicated. The final book will contain
black and white photos.
My review copy was courtesy of Arcade Publishing.