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Six Things I Have Learned From Eminem

So, I used to spend a lot of time arguing about Eminem. It was a very high-school/early-college experience: I wasn’t quite clear on my pro-lady politics at the time, and wasn’t that great at identifying sexism, but somewhere between “Guilty Conscience” (the song about raping and/or killing women in general) and “Kill You” (the song about killing and/or raping his mom in particular) it became pretty darn clear to me that this was a guy who genuinely hated women and queer folks because they were women and queer folks, and that the way people were willing to give him a pass on that was uncool.

I got a lot of my practice in debating Sexism in Art through dating and/or hanging out with dudes who liked Eminem. (“But the women he’s talking about are bitches and sluts!” Um, you’re seeing them entirely through his perspective; of course they’re portrayed that way. “But it’s satire!” Yeah, the point seems to be that when women get hurt, it’s funny. “But he’s just expressing his feelings!” His feelings are what I have a problem with; the fact that they are feelings doesn’t place them above criticism, especially not if he puts them out there in the form of “art.” “I mean, a lot of men feel that way about women or their moms.” Widen eyes, back away slowly, call police.) For a long time, the sight of his face or the sound of his name made me physically ill: it was proof of something I’d heard about but never really believed, that lots of people, maybe even the majority of people, did not regard women as fully human, because here was a guy who could just say that raping or killing us was OK if we hurt his feelings, and all he was getting was attention and movie deals and money and praise. It made no sense to me, because: hadn’t feminism happened? Wasn’t everything supposed to be OK now?

I learned a lot from Eminem, I guess, is what I am saying! But what can we learn… from his latest, incredibly lame and failuriffic video? Many things, I would argue! Join me now, on a voyage of education:

(1) EMINEM STILL THINKS THAT HE IS RELEVANT. The video opens with Eminem intoning “djoo mees mi?” Ha ha ha ha, pause for breath, NO.

(2) DJOO MEES HEEM? By the way, Eminem has an accent now. It is maybe… French?

(3) HE TALKS ABOUT HIMSELF IN THE THIRD PERSON, STILL, BUT NOW MORE LIKE YODA. Sample lyrics: He does not mean to lesbian offend, but Lindsay, please come back to seeing men, Samantha’s a 2, you’re practically a 10. Um, aside from the fact that he clearly does mean to offend lesbians: “he does not mean to lesbian offend?” Does he to offend no longer seek? Sexually threatened by lesbians is he? The smooth face of a surly nine-year-old he has, to be a hairless monorchid suspect him I do; a woman teams for him to switch, improbable find I it. Smart his lyrics people do call when no books read they do.

(4) SERIOUSLY, HE’S REALLY THREATENED BY LESBIANS. Other sample lyrics: Portia, what’s Ellen DeGeneres got that I don’t? Um, a vagina? Valid reasons for not growing facial hair? A FUNCTIONING MARRIAGE?

(5) HE’S THREATENED BY VAGINAS IN GENERAL, ACTUALLY: So, yeah, he just sort of walks up to some woman dressed like Uhura and gives her the Vulcan Death Grip, stuffs Kim Kardashian in a woodchipper, notes (in the third person, again) that the enforcer, looking for more women to torture, walk up to the cutest girl and Charlie Horse her,” and faces off with a bunch of butch girls in a threatening wasteland known only as Planet Womyn. You know, the usual. Then, later, in the same verse, he takes on noted wuss-rock champion John Mayer and his beige paramour, in the wussiest way humanly possible, as if attempting to out-wuss him in an epic Wuss-Off from which only one Wuss King can emerge wusstorious: “Forget them other men, girl pay them little attention, a little bit did I mention” – returned the Yoda-speak has! – “that Jennifer’s in love with me John Mayer, so sit on the bench, man I swear them other guys you give em an inch they take a mile.” That sound you hear – Eminem bragging about how he hates women, then pleading for the attention of women who are done with crude, unfeeling cads like that guy who sang “Your Body Is a Wonderland” – is Eminem frantically scrambling for an audience.

(6) EMINEM STILL THINKS THAT HE IS RELEVANT. OTHER THINGS THAT EMINEM THINKS ARE RELEVANT INCLUDE: Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson (over) John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston (over?), Sarah Palin (SO over), Rock of Love which initially aired in 2007, Kim Kardashian’s reality show which also initially aired in 2007, the 2007 film Transformers, the 2005 film Dukes of Hazzard, the 1988 film Rain Man, the 1960 film Psycho, the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock, that Star Trek movie that has been Coming Soon since approximately the dawn of time, and Amy Winehouse, who – have you heard about this? – is on The Drugs. Oh, and: the video opens with him dressed up like Brett Michaels. You know, some flavor-of-the moment musician who used to be shocking and threatening, and is now just some dim Ghost of Outrage Past, and can only get attention by participating in a celebrity-culture sideshow, of which joke he seems tragically unaware that he is the butt. It’s funny, because Eminem thought he needed to dress up.


  1. L wrote:

    Jezebel commented on this, too:

    By turning the attacks on himself, the video feels more like a zany free-for-all and a nihilistic look at one man’s lost place in society than a straight-up attack on women and gays. It’s not especially shocking; especially considering the kind of lyrics and videos hip-hop is known for.


    Right, so because he attempts self-deprecation (which comes off as “Hey, I’m gonna commit suicide, WHY WON’T YOU PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEE?!”), all the misogyny and homophobia is just cheeky funtimes. Of course!

    Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Sady wrote:

    Yeah, I really love pretty much everything that Hortense writes, but I thought she went a bit easy on him there. Aside from being predictably hatey, it’s, um… not funny. Or good. The commenter over there who compared it to the “Scary Movie” franchise and called it MUSIC VIDEO MOVIE was right on.

    And yeah, “he makes fun of EVERYONE” is a lame defense, because, like, does he make fun of straight people for being straight? For example? It’s not the presence of jokes, it’s the assumptions under the jokes (I, a man, can cure you of lesbian affections with my penis! HILARITY WILL ENSUE!) that people have a problem with.

    Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  3. Fannie wrote:

    “He does not mean to lesbian offend, but Lindsay, please come back to seeing men, Samantha’s a 2, you’re practically a 10.”

    I always find it a bit ironic when unattractive men criticize women’s looks as though their own looks are completely off limits. I think his “lyrics” speak to how (a) many men believe that their own male gaze is the objective standard wherein women are objects and they themselves are Real Actors in the World Who Matter for More Than Their Looks and (b) many men, even if they’re unattractive, think that they’re more appealing to and thus deserving of a Hot Chick because they have a penis.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  4. Anonymous wrote:


    This post had me laughing all the way though. You’re a great writer.

    More reviews please!


    Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 1:15 am | Permalink
  5. belledame222 wrote:

    I <3 you. that is all.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 2:59 am | Permalink