Archive for the ‘Eminem’ Category

Sady Doyle also seems to hate Eminem (see previous post: In Defence of…Katy Perry).

Here’s why:

‘My first solo, Tori-and-a-piano show was in 2001. Which was the year when she started playing “Me and a Gun,” at every show, again, specifically as a reaction to the popularity of pro-rape, known-lady-abuser Eminem. And opened every show with a terrifying, domestic-abuse-focused version of his “‘97 Bonnie and Clyde.”’

So what is this- pop music as a gender war? I like Tori Amos’ music, but not if she uses it to make slurs about other artists, who have nothing to do with her.

Sure, everyone has written the occasional outrageous break up song. That is the privilege of being a musician. Nick Cave wrote a whole album after his split with PJ Harvey, that didn’t make her sound like the nicest person in the world. I write grim poems about my exes. BUT doing cover versions of an artist who she doesn’t know personally, with a view to showing them up as what? A rapist? An abuser? Not so cool.

And then Doyle is using both Eminem and Tori Amos, in some personal mission against the world. She is more than a douchebag. She’s a piece of work.

I wouldn’t care except she is occupying the moral highground on abortion laws in America at the moment, and making out anyone who doesn’t support her is a bastard. A misogynist. An apologist for rape and neglect of women:

Eminem will be no stranger to this kind of thing.

But that’s all the more reason to draw attention to it.

FUCK THIS SHIT as Emi might say himself.

What do heterosexual ‘normal’ relationships and family structures look like?

Do they look like this?

Or do they look like this?

And are we allowed to talk about how one becomes the other, quite often, when the cameras stop rolling, the music stops playing and the doors are closed?

I remember waking up frightened next to my partner each morning.

I remember being screamed at for throwing away some spaghetti.

I remember that when I told some people what had happened to me, they looked embarrassed and didn’t want to talk to me.

I remember when I told other people what had happened to me, they looked grateful and sorrowful, for it had happened to them too, but they never told anyone.

I remember his barrister asking me about my history of ‘mental illness’ in front of a whole courtroom.

I remember being terrified of going home.

I remember watching Happy Days on telly as a kid, and thinking ‘families aren’t like that’.

I remember watching Nil By Mouth and seeing myself in Kathy Burke’s character.

I remember my friend sat at my kitchen table, telling me her husband of only one month had been beating her up for ages, but she didn’t cancel the wedding because she didn’t want to let her family down.

I remember my mates being friendly to this cunt even though they knew he had terrorised and assaulted one of our friends.

I remember watching Love The Way You Lie and feeling relieved that the complex ways in which violence enters relationships were being shown on a pop video.

And then I remember being told I wasn’t allowed that feeling of relief. Because I was wrong to identify with something so ‘cliched’ and ‘glamourising’ of violence in a relationship.

But you glamourise relationships all the time with your nice houses and your wives and your holidays to Cornwall or the Algarve. You are a walking cliche with your wine cellar and your DVD collection and your oak kitchen table.

Pornography is ‘other people’s erotica’. And violence is ‘other people’s domesticity’.

He silenced me once, with his threats and his violence. I learned from him, that the only way you can get me to be quiet is by coming over here and actually punching my lights out, kicking me to the ground. Even then I will get up and come back fighting.  Isn’t that what Rihanna did? Do we make you feel uncomfortable? I hope so. I really do.

The Official Video Promo to Love The Way You Lie. I can feel the heat as the fans are burning it onto their various devices as I type!

And here, some fans and non-fans begin to discuss a variety of interpretations of the meanings created by this song, its video and its audiences:  Guardian online

I posted the last piece in haste. It was one of those things that was causing me anxiety by not being out there, out of my head and on the page. Once it was, I just wanted to delete it and hide under a rock.

The personal context of my interest in Eminem and Riahnna I referred to, by linking to this poem I wrote a long time ago:

Now Wash Your Hands

The trick that writers play on themselves sometimes, is that they tell themselves that by writing something down, the problem will be solved, the pain will go away. It doesn’t work like that.

My writing over the last couple of months has taken me down alleyways I thought I didn’t have to revisit again. I can almost smell the stench of piss, and stale alcohol and someone’s breath in my face, all over again. It has also engaged me in conversations I thought I would never have again in my life, not to the extent I have them in my head, anyway. It has renewed my belief that humans can change their circumstances and free themselves from their self-inflicted purgatory. It’s also made me realise I can be a bit of a prat.

I am not as clever as I like to make out.  But if I share my fuck-ups and my fragmented understandings of life, from Eminem to Judith Butler, to Mike and Scott, my boy and me. Then maybe you too will engage in this process and help me out a bit? You all already have. I am very grateful.

Bear with me.

I think there is a chink of light at the end of this grimy urban shithole tunnel. And I can hear music playing. Hold my hand.

Love The Way You Lie is the new single by Eminem, featuring Rihanna.

It hasn’t been  released yet, so there is no official video. But the pair have performed it live and the fans are already busily uploading and downloading recordings of two of their favourite Rap/R and B artists, singing together on stage. And what a song for them to choose to make into their debut duet.

The opening on this rather hazy footage of an Eminem gig in the States, features Rihanna, looking Amazonian as usual, with some impressive pyrotechnics kicking off,  singing the refrain:

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn,

That’s all right, because I like the way it hurts

Just gonna stand there and hear me cry

That’s all right, because I love the way you lie.

So this is a song about a fucked up relationship? Not really a surprise, it being by Eminem. And in this particular performance, apart from the (blurred and distant) aesthetic appeal of both singers, we are drawn to the massive photo backdrop featuring  a man (Is it Eminem himself?) sitting in combats, a gun in is hand, facing the audience. The clues are that this song relates to themes of  violence.

My initial reaction on hearing it was: Rihanna pisses all over Dido when it comes to a believable,  hard and yet vulnerable feminine lyrical echo to Eminem’s staccato ‘macho’ rapping. I also had another echo in my head, of the tender yet macabre rendition of  Henry Lee, in the Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and PJ Harvey.  Completely different musical genres, and not as much real sexual tension in the Eminem/Rihanna collaboration I suspect, but an echo all the same. You don’t often hear a man and a woman singing, (let alone talking), together about a shared dynamic of violence within a relationship.

Obviously, this is because beyond the staged performance of representation, real violence is what happens when communication in a relationship has completely broken down. It is not the kind of thing you would phone your ex up about, after the court case, to say ‘hey babe, maybe we could lay some beats down onto a track’ about the beatings I used to give you. I don’t think that would work.

For me, this is why I am interested in this song. It is a depiction of something that is normally behind closed doors. Unspoken. Shameful.  And it is something that the two people involved would not be able to articulate to each other, except through the language of actual violence, actual tears.

Rhianna we know has suffered domestic violence herself. When she released Rude Boy , a couple of months ago, I wrote about how the media seemed to resent the fact she had recovered from that experience, enough to come back fighting and shaking her booty, and enjoying (hopefully?) a sex life, at least imagining and singing about one.  Somebody, somewhere seems to find it in their interests to typecast Rihanna and women like her, as perpetual victims. She rejects this typecast, and I can only say power to her elbow, and her very sexy booty for that.

With this new release, it is the Feminists who seem to be struggling most with Love The Way You Lie, and the complex gendered messages it is sending out. In the Gender Across Borders Blog, a very detailed article featuring an exposition of the actual ‘cycle of violence’ in ‘abusive’ relationships, basically argues that this song is a realistic description of, and a promotion of, violence against women by men. The author quotes lines in the song such as Eminem singing:

‘Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano’

‘If she ever tries to fucking leave again/I’ma tie her to the bed/And set this house on fire’

Stirring stuff indeed. (And, I have to admit I felt a bit of a stirring in my knickers, imagining Eminem tying Rihanna to the bed and leaving her to burn. That is possibly the subject of another post).

But to be serious, should we take the words so literally? Even when critics of Eminem say his lyrics normalise violence, homophobia and hatred of women, they never rely simply on the lyrics themselves to prove their point. This GAB article is no exception as it puts the song in the context of the rapper’s well-publicised traumas as a boy and young man, his comments in interviews, and his tempestuous marriage. This brings us back to that old argument about art and life and where do they meet and does it matter on a moral and political level?  Polanski, Nabokov, Easton Ellis, Orton, Plath, Capote, Haneke. They have all told disturbing stories that have some relation to their lived experience. No matter how imaginative an artist or writer is, they still only have what enters and leaves their own brain to work with.

The discussion on the GAB Blog was quite interesting, as I think a genuine Eminem fan stepped into the comments thread, and related his lyrics to a different context, the context of how they speak to his fans and their experiences. The commenter, ‘b’, says:

‘Its a beautifully accurate portrayal of a love-hate relationship and the dangers of it. But will it teach people to identify these relationships and step away. No, because as the record itself says, “It’s the rage that took over, it took control of both, so they say its best to go your separate ways, guess they dont know you, cause today, that was yesterday, yesterday is over”’

The fans are the ones who buy the records, go to the gigs and pin the posters on the walls. If music speaks to them, for whatever reason, I think it should be valued. The meanings of that link between artist and fan might not always be comfortable, as ‘b’s interpretation of the lyrics shows. But they are probably true. (I am a little haunted by that huge image of the man with the gun (a soldier?) at the gig. For the U.S. has been at war for a long time now, and this kind of iconography is probably just everyday stuff for most young Americans. And that can’t be placed at Eminem’s feet).

Then there is the ‘homophobia’ tag, added to feminist critiques of Eminem’s music. I can’t be sure, but sometimes when feminists cry ‘homophobia’ I think they are being a bit disingenuous. Because, especially when it comes to representations in popular culture, I don’t see feminism examining how men are portrayed or how they express themselves at all, except as way of identifying how they hate on women. Eminem is a male artist who has a massive following, who deals with complex issues of masculinity and identity, including in relation to women and feminine identities. But to wheel out the label ‘homophobia’ when really you want to make a point about his portrayal of gender violence, and how that relates to actual crimes by men against women, I think is a bit low. M Simpson has written more eloquently than I could, about some of the complexities of Eminem’s presentation of masculinity, in relation to other men. I would be interested to hear Mark’s interpretation of the emerging reactions to this song…

Returning to the feminists’ dislike for all things Eminem, this quote from the GAB blog post’s author, made in the comments thread is very telling. The writer refers to an interview with Rihanna:

‘She talked about how Eminem’s song “broke down the cycle of violence” in a way she found “clever.” She also refered to Eminem as an “artist of class,” and said she connected with the song and knew it would be a hit. What disturbs me is the last part of the quote: “It’s something that I understood and connected with, which made me think it was a hit, and I want to be part of a hit. I couldn’t say no to Eminem.” ‘

Of all the things I could find to critique in this article this quote I found the most disturbing. The author is taking a comment by Rihanna, about how much she wanted to work with Eminem,  who she respects. And she frames it in such a way that we are encouraged to think Eminem has some kind of power of Rihanna, beyond his obvious pull as a commercially successful popstar. The writer is leading us to see their collaboration in the same terms as the ‘cycle of violence’ which they sing about. I think that is hateful.

Like I said, artists and writers only ever have what they experience (including in their heads) as their material, at some level or other. (This does make me wonder about the lives of Peter Jackson and JK Rowling, but again, that is for another day).

So I will end by admitting that part of my fascination with this pair, and the dynamic they sing about, stems from my own personal experience of violence in a relationship. The guy I rapped that particular duet with is not available for a reunion gig. But, having suffered something that did leave me feeling ashamed, and confused, and weak, I found Eminem and Rihanna’s rendition kind of cathartic, and, to use a favoured word of feminists, empowering.

I love to analyse popular culture. Because the popular is by definition, the most expressive of the people. The thing I respect most about Eminem and Rihanna, as can be seen in the comments sections of the posts I have shared here, is that their work always garners a response, an energy and a debate (however inarticulate at times), amongst the people who actually love their music.

Anything else, really, I’d say, is pretty academic.

Rude Boy/Rude Girl

Posted: June 22, 2010 in Eminem, Rihanna

Rude Boy is the new single and video by Rhianna.

Apparently it is causing a bit of a stir in the media and with the  ‘parents’.

I don’t know what all the fuss is about do you?

Aside from the fact Rhianna is a gorgeous, strong (not white) solo artist, she sings about  sex that overtly references power dynamics (‘I like it when you pull my hair’ ‘I like it when you tell me move it there’). She is also shaking her booty suggestively and looking directly at the camera with a cool stare. ‘If I ain’t feelin’ it I won’t fake it’. This woman is for real and some people will feel threatened by a woman expressing her sexuality.

But I think there is another reason why her new song and video is causing a commotion in Middle England. The last time we really saw Rhianna spread across our newspapers, she looked like this:

Rhianna Beaten

Rhianna Beaten

It is likely that the media and the parents  find this juxtaposition, of a woman as victim of violence, against a video of a woman regaining her confidence and her sexual assertiveness , difficult to handle.  It’s easier to think of victims of partner violence as perpetual victims, and to dismiss  ‘sexualised’ images of women in pop music as ‘offensive’.

But I love how Rhianna challenges the stereotypes.  I am happy to see her shaking her booty and telling her man to ‘gidee up gidee up’.

You go girl. And enjoy those rude boys on your own terms.