Eminem Strikes Chord in Society
By Dorothy Marcic
Just one month after Washington, D.C.-area sniper suspects were taken into custody, it appears that the national media are now enthusiastically embracing rapper Eminem’s screen debut in “8 Mile.”
The same media that were horrified by the coldblooded violence of the snipers now hold the poster child for “white male rage” in acclaim for his acting (“‘8 Mile’ is box office’s best,” Life, Nov. 13; “‘8 Mile’ stays high on charts,” Life, Nov. 14).
To be fair to Eminem, he did not create the conditions that allowed his success.
My research on popular music shows that it is a lagging indicator of current values. When Eminem sings about anger, he isn’t creating it, but rather reflecting what is already there.
The 1990s was a decade of white male rage, first noticed with the Oklahoma City bombing and the horrendous school shootings across the country.
Eminem has tapped into white male rage, singing about killing his wife or mother and pushing the bounds of deviance down further to trivialize violence.
Now we have mixed messages about the glory of violence.
While the alleged criminal acts of sniper suspects John Lee Malvo and John Allen Muhammad are condemned, Eminem sells millions of albums espousing essentially what Malvo and Muhammad are charged with doing.
Two questions we should be asking:
- Why is Eminem so popular?
- What does that tell us about the values of today’s society?
And why are we so powerless as violence and misogyny escalates? We could learn a great deal from this man. Not so much from him and his music, but rather from the way he has touched some deep part of the youth psyche.
Can we learn? Or do we instead turn a blind eye?
--U.S.A. Today, 2002