Sunday, July 8, 2018

Creepy Crawling

Creepy Crawling by Jeffrey Melnick
Arcade Publishing: 7/17/18
eBook review copy: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9781628728934

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 service him.

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.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Arcade Publishing.

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