The impetus for this post is in Eminem's new anti-Bush video which has been lauded by many in the lefty blogosphere. It is now time to welcome this brother among our troops, the thinking goes. His misogyny and hatred of gays doesn't really count on the scale where really important issues are weighed: fighting the Bush administration. Besides he is the Elvis of this generation, a great creative genius.
('Some bitch asked for my autograph
I called her a whore, spit in her face and laughed...
All bitches is ho's, even my stinkin'-ass Mom')
Someone told me (in Eschaton's comments threads) that I cannot prove my argument that Eminem is a misogynist, because "song lyrics don't count". The private person Eminem might be a very nice man who really respects women. The same argument has cropped up in articles about Eminem's misogyny in a more sophisticated form: that Eminem's message is a complicated one with many layers and that those who focus on his messages of hatred are simpletons who just don't get it. It's all a big joke, and the biggest joke of all is that Eminem hates himself more than anybody else. All this only in his song lyrics, of course. The real Eminem does not advocate hatred of women.
(A lot of people say misogynistic/Which is true/I don't deny/Matter of fact, I'll stand by it")
As proof of the squeaky-cleanness and niceness of the private Eminem, his fans appeal to his love of his young daughter. It doesn't matter that he sings about murdering the mother of that daughter, because Kim, Eminem's ex-wife is a really bad private person.
He even brought his daughter, then three years old, into the studio in 1997 to record baby noises on a song about driving his wife's decomposing body to dump it in a lake: "Oh where's mama? She's taken a little nap in the trunk/Oh that smell (whew!) dada must have runned over a skunk."
This is not that different from the old myth that women are either good or bad, angels or devils, virgins or whores. That Eminem's female fans argue for his private goodness in this way tells us that they assume they would be counted among the good ones, the angels and the virgins. Poor Eminem, he has only met bad women in his life, first his horrible mother and then his horrible ex-wife; no wonder that he hates all women and wants to kill them. But if he met me he'd think differently, because I'm not a bad woman. We must understand that his hatred of women is not his fault; it's the fault of the women, those women who were bad.
('Don't you get it bitch, no one can hear you?
Now shut the fuck up and get what's coming to you
You were supposed to love me
Now bleed! Bitch bleed!
Bleed! Bitch Bleed! Bleed!' )
Layers upon layers, indeed. Not only is the real Eminem a very nice guy but the real criminals behind his woman-hating lyrics are...women! But an important layer is missing in these arguments, and that is the fact that what we know about Eminem is his songs. It does not matter whether he rescues homeless kittens in his private life if in public he advocates eating cats on every Sunday. His public persona has much more publicity and impact than his private musings might have, though all aspects of Eminem are responsible when a young girl is raped because his song gave someone the idea that this behaviour is cool and manly.
'My little sister's birthday, she'll remember me
For a gift I had 10 of my boys take her virginity
And bitches know me as a horny-ass freak
Their mother wasn't raped, I ate her pussy while she was asleep'
Eminem's public message is that hating women, raping them and even killing them is what lower class white young men can think about, if not act upon, unless they'd rather dream about violence against gays. Gays are included in the groups Eminem loves to hate because they are not masculine enough, because there is a tinge of that staining femininity in a gay man's sexuality, and Eminem fears that stain more than anything else on earth.
('New Kids On The Block suck a lot of dick
Boy-girl groups make me sick
And I can't wait 'til I catch all you faggots in public - I'ma love it
Talkin' about I fabricated my past
He's just aggravated I won't ejaculate in his ass')
Perhaps all this is just a reflection of the culture in which we live, just a reflection of what young men feel and think anyway. Perhaps Eminem and others like him have just given it a voice, and the success of his career is the affirmation of how fitting his message has been. Maybe. If this is true, I almost feel sorry for Eminem if he truly loves his daughter. One might think that a loving father of a daughter would try to redirect the misogynistic and homophobic impluses of his fan base. There's no money in that, of course, and I suspect that it's the greenbacks Eminem truly loves.
("Put Anthrax on a Tampax and slap you till you can't stand.")
And there are even more complicated layers about the Eminem-phenomenom. He is seen as a victim, a victim who reveals all and speaks out against his oppressors. He is also seen as a rebel, the new James Dean of his generation, exciting and controversial. That he has not rebelled against anyone at all powerful until now has gone without comment in the media. Evidently accusing all women and all gays of whatever damage he suffered in his relationships with his mother and ex-wife is a manly and valiant form of rebellion, and evidently it is fine for a man like this to claim victimhood but then deny it from those with even less power by turning them into almost-legal prey.
Real rebellion costs a lot more and takes a lot more courage. Real rebels don't earn billions of dollars from selling a message of hate and contempt, however brilliantly performed. Real rebels don't support a message which might very well make this world a worse place for most of its citizens.