Trust me; I’d never confuse weeny rebellion with authentic dissent. If fighting state-endorsed political correctness qualifies as dissent, then Eminem, alias Marshall Mathers, was It. I editorialize about why parents—not the state—are responsible for their runts, so why would I complain when Eminem raps a send-up of the same point?
to the parents of America / I am the derringer aimed at little Erica, to attack her character / The ringleader of this circus of worthless pawns / Sent to lead the march right up to the steps of Congress / And piss on the lawns of the White House and replace it with a Parental Advisory sticker /
Wait a sec, Mercer, you dissed Amiri Baraka, New Jersey’s lazy lyricist. How is Eminem different from that appointed poet? Baraka is sponsored by the state: He is of the state and for the state. He pleases The Powers—the self-styled intellectual elite included—by helping perpetuate the post hoc myth that black failure is always the white man’s fault. The state has a lot riding on that ass. Already emanating from this quarter are the accusations that once again the White Man—Eminem—has appropriated the Black Man’s Art, a braying to which H.L. Mencken once put paid: To hold the notion that “any respectable work of art can have a communal origin,” seldom survives “scientific investigation.” An inspired individual—not an amorphous collective—is the source of good works of art.
Not that I’m pronouncing Eminem a good artist. He is certainly not a musician. His hip-hop poetry, however, is funny and quite skilled. It isn’t music, not by any stretch, but it’s street theater, and rather good, at that. Whereas Baraka is artistically lazy, dour, and glum, yet dead serious about his stupid stuff, the self-supporting Eminem rhymes with the pace of a machine gun, is entertaining, considerably self-deprecating, and has a sense of irony and satire.
Kudos to him for driving the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; The Matthew Shepard Foundation, and especially the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) even more bonkers than they already are. Thanks to these assorted ombudsmen, and to anti-hate crime legislation, which already criminalizes speech and belief because punishment is predicated more on the opinions of the perpetrator than on any harm itself, it’s getting harder for a white heterosexual male to get away with an aggressive verbal retort to the Bottom Battalion’s hate filled cultural come-ons. Gay political activist Shawn O’Hearn feels “it’s our responsibility as gay men… to assist our supposedly straight brothers in the enjoyment of man-on-man sex,” or so he wrote in a San Francisco publication. Eminem simply rises to the taunt, issuing a warning, a rejoinder that is far less obscene than that of the establishment-friendly O’Hearn.
hate fags? the answer’s yes homophobic? nah youre just heterophobic starin at my jeans watchin my genitals buldge over… you better let go of em they belong in my scrotum youll never get hold of em
To further whittle away First Amendment rights, agenda-driven social scientists use a form of quackery known as the slippery slope logical error: They typically link a wide range of separate attitudes and behaviors, for which there is no evidence of a connection, and proclaim that violence exists on a continuum, with words on one end. At what point will words erupt or escalate into violent actions, one never can tell. Using slippery slope illogic, Tipper Gore and Lynn Cheney can then with “scientific impunity” blame words for crimes people commit.
A creative permutation of this thinking is deployed in Eminem’s debut film, “8 Mile.” The liberal literati reject the view that human beings are responsible agents with free will and see them as incapable of resisting a confluence of biopsychosocial forces. True to this perspective, when a rape occurs in a doomed structure, where black ghetto intersects poor white neighborhood, the film’s heroes focus the blame not on the criminal, but on the structure. The mistaken belief that vicious words or dilapidated buildings are conduits to crime explains (metaphorically at least) why the “8 Mile” protagonists respond to the crime by torching the scene of the crime!
Reviewer prolix about the “spirit” of “8 Mile” aside, whether you’re white or black, poor or rich, if you grunt, traipse around in troops, and hoot when your territory is threatened, as the characters in the film do, you are more monkey than man. On a positive note, if such menacing people as this film portrays can gather to cheer a battle of wits, where a facility with “lyrics, alliteration, enunciation,” and narrative is manifestly evident—this is not all bad.
A bad omen for his anti-PC credentials is that every film reviewer and his dog is embracing Eminem for demonstrating in “8 Mile” that he has a heart, a feature so central to the American esthetic. The Old Em once countered, sure, “there is a positive a message in my music and that’s, ‘fuck you.'” The New Em is aping Oprah.
©By ILANA MERCER
November 13, 2002