the charming Eminem product

"You only get one shot to revamp your misogynistic, homophobic image"

[...] In the case of Eminem, as with Prince, the Beatles, and Elvis, one of the major goals of the movie from the corporate side -- we're talking product here, not art -- is to legitimize the young star in the eyes of outraged adults. From Elvis to Prince, the outrage came due to sex; from Elvis's gyrating hips to the carnal steaminess of Prince's early albums, it was the artists who combined good pop music with appeals to youthful libido that sold the most units (and, thus, drew the attention of moralists).

[...] It's hard to imagine a movie like 8 Mile could be made about a music act like, say, Public Enemy or Rage Against the Machine were they popular enough to warrant a movie. This teaches us something further about the nature of Eminem's notoriety, and that of Prince, the Beatles, Elvis, et al. before him. It's not enough to be notorious or outrageous; you must be notorious or outrageous in such a way as to be useful to people with far more money and power than you have.

[...] Rage or PE couldn't get the 8 Mile treatment if they wanted it (and they probably don't), because their anger tends to be focused at the more powerful, not the less powerful. Fighting the power isn't useful to power; killing fags and hos, on the other hand, works just fine. Pop culture is a tricky balance between validating things people already feel and relate to, and selling, selling, selling.

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5 Responses:

  1. kyronfive says:

    that was a fucking brilliant article.

  2. fksche says:

    RATM & PE are just as much of a `product' as Eminem is; just less people agree with their views.

    Also, RATM also preached violence, though they were a little less up front about it. I don't know if there web page was still up, but a few years back they had a `book list' with several pro-revolution by any means texts. Just replace "fags" with "corporate executives"

  3. flipzagging says:

    This guy lives in a dream world, where him and Chuck D are on one side and The Man is on the other. PE and RATM made major labels tons of money. And it's not like "power" is all one entity. The music industry is a business and there's lots of money to be made commercializing every feeling, even feelings of dissent and alienation.

    I think Eminem is simpler and more complex than those other artists. He's just a guy who thinks it's funny to say misogynist and homophobic things, like millions of other morons, and he doesn't get why it's wrong -- he's just playin'. But unlike most rappers, he feels a need to tear down his image as fast as he builds it up. I haven't seen the film, but even if it mirrors the arc of Purple Rain, it's not going to change Eminem's image - Eminem's been pre-emptively deconstructing[1] himself for a couple of albums now.

    The only thing is, Eminem is totally unqualified for the job of analyzing himself. He just steps away from what he's said and goes "wow! I get paid to say this stuff!", and maybe pretends it was all about exposing society's hypocrisy.

    [1] apologies to jwz

  4. bassfingers says:

    It's not enough to be notorious or outrageous; you must be notorious or outrageous in such a way as to be useful to people with far more money and power than you have.

    Oh yeah?