I'll grant that Eminem has talent as a rapper. Musically, "The Eminem Show" is brilliant. Lyrically, Eminem may be able to sling rhymes with a creative verve that is rare in any songwriter. I always appreciate originality and abhor triteness. On these counts, I tip my hat to Slim Shady.
But that is as far as I can go in praising this decrepit and mentally unbalanced person. The genius of a musician does not excuse record companies from inflicting this garbage on society. "The Eminem Show" is full of violence, especially violence against women, and demonstrates not an ounce of empathy for any other soul on the planet. Marshall Mathers may very well be the biggest narcissist to ever hit the big time.
Consider "Hailie's Song," a lyric purportedly dedicated to his daughter, but full of venom, in which he pretty much places himself at the center of the universe.
This boulder on my shoulder gets heavy and harder to hold
And this load is like the weight of the world
And I think my neck is breaking should I just give up,
Or try to live up to these expectations?
The chief object of Eminem's rage in "Hailie's Song" is Hallie's mother. Eminem's enemy list, however, would make Nixon jealous. His persecutors include his mother, father, parents of his fans, his fans, lawyers, cops, any other women he's ever met, other entertainers, critics, journalists… the list seems endless. The only blameless person seems to be Eminem himself.
Narcissism is a noxious mental disease that leads people to grandiose delusions. Narcissism must be fed. It can be fed by fame and adoration, or it can be fed by violence and notoriety. Eminem has a love-hate relationship with fame, but digs the hell out of violence. Gun shots and talk of whacking some bitch or a record executive or two are the subplot to the entire show.
But not to worry, Eminem tells us. This is just rap. He's just an entertainer. He's not trying to inspire imitators. As he raps in another narcissistic tale, "Without Me:"
They say music can alter moods and talk to you
But can it load a gun for you and cock it too?
In other words, Eminem doesn't kill people. People kill people. If a fan buys a gun, shoots somebody, only the fan is to blame. We are each masters of our own fate.
Of course, Eminem doesn't hold himself to this standard. For example, Mathers is blameless when it comes to violence against the mother of his child:
I got a wife that's determined to make my life livin hell
But I handle it well, given the circumstances I'm dealt
So many chances, man, it's too bad, coulda had someone else
But the years that I've wasted are nothing to the tears that I've tasted
So here's what im facin: 3 felonies, 6 years of probation
If you still don't believe that Eminem has a serious narcissistic complex, compare the following passage from a Web site on narcissism with the lyric I quote below:-
The second mechanism that the narcissist employs is the active pursuit of "Narcissistic Supply". The Narcissist actively seeks to furnish himself with an endless supply of admiration, adulation, affirmation and attention. …If fame cannot be had — infamy and notoriety will do.
And from "Say What You Say"
When I was little I knew I would blow up and sell a mill'
and grow up, to be Atilla, go nuts and be a pillar
Another aspect of narcissism is a sense of omnipotence. The following lyrics are from "My Daddy's Gone Crazy."
There's no mountain i can't climb
There's no tower too high,
No plane that i can't learn how to fly
Besides being a narcissist of unprecedented proportions, Eminem is just a plain old whiner. He doesn't like fame and life is pretty miserable. He sums it up best on "Say Goodbye to Hollywood."
But no one ever puts a grasp on the fact i've sacrificed everything I have
I never dreamt i'd get to the level that i'm at, this is whack
This is more than I ever could of asked
everywhere I go, a hat, a sweater hood, or mask
What about math, how come I wasn't ever good at that
It's like the boy in the bubble, who never could adapt, i'm trapped
If I could go back, I never woulda rapped
Now fans of Eminem might object that I'm being a little harsh. After all, "he's just an entertainer; who are you to psychoanalyze him?" I can imagine Eminem himself saying the same thing. In fact, Eminem makes the point more than once that he's just jivin' with us. He's havin' fun. At the same time, however,he admits, "a lot of truth is said in jest." If Eminem thinks he's givin' us some truth, maybe we should take him a little more seriously.
Whenever Eminem is criticized, I hear his defenders say, "Look, it's up to the parents to police their kids." It's a nice sounding platitude, but it's a straw man. No one who has ever been a parent of a pre-teen or teen would ever seriously spout such nonsense. If you are a parent who believes a guy like Eminem shouldn't be filling a kid's ears with filth, good luck trying to keep it away from your children. It's impossible, because there's always at least one kid on the block who already owns the CD. And when your kid secretly buys it to keep up with the peer pressure, there's hell to pay when you confiscate it.
Parents should rightly be concerned about Eminem. He makes narcissism sound cool, even normal. And narcissism is a seductive mental disorder. Some amount of narcissism is a natural stage for many teen boys. Fortunately, most boys grow into men and learn the value of empathy. They learn because traditionally there has been little in society, even in popular culture, that promoted narcissism as an admirable trait. My concern is that Eminem changes that equation.
It's telling that even Marshall Mathers understands that his music is potentially destructive. At the end of "My Daddy's Gone Crazy," he raps, "i wouldn't let Hailie listen to me neither."
I'm 100 percent behind free speech, and in no regard am I suggesting that Eminem should be banned. But I also believe in corporate responsibility. As good as Eminem is musically, as talented as he is as a rapper, there is a good chance that he would be just another small-label windbag if he didn't get corporate promotion. It is next to impossible these days to become a major star without a record boss stoking the fires of fame. I'm not asking the government to do anything about Eminem and his ilk. I'm asking record companies to realize that they have a responsibility to a civil society. They have a responsibility to future generations. They have a responsibility to look beyond the bottom line.Powered by Sidelines