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August 10, 2010 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Eminem's new video, featuring Rihanna, makes domestic violence sexy as only a (literally) smoldering Megan Fox can.

Feminists are (mostly) not pleased.

This isn't the first time Eminem has sung about his experience with abusive relationships;
and Rihanna's abuse at the hands of Chris Brown held the media captive last year.
posted by ChuraChura (200 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lyrics. I have to say I'm on the 'everyone is at least talking about it' front. When Chris Brown beat Rihanna the number of girls who absolutely had no idea this was wrong was staggering.

On a side thing, i don't think it is glorifying it, though I'm sure lots of people will interpret it that way. I think it's a straight up honest depiction of a not-good relationship.
posted by shinybaum at 5:52 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it's a straight up honest depiction of a not-good relationship.

No, he only hits the wall. In an "honest depiction" he'd kick the shit out of her.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Going on twenty five million views. Damn.

The formula of rap verse / sung chorus has certainly hung on, hasn't it?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:56 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Won't somebody think of the walls?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:57 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Huh. I saw this in the gym without the audio the other day and I figured it was the long-awaited video for "You All Everybody".
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:57 PM on August 10, 2010 [30 favorites]


Anyone else sick of Megan Fox?
posted by ReeMonster at 5:58 PM on August 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wow. I can't imagine any artist besides Eminem having the guts or the standing to write this song or make this video.

It's a much darker, much weirder world out there than most want to believe.
posted by effugas at 5:59 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Obscure metaphor for a citizen's relationship with the American government?
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:01 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Besides being just plain fucking dumb, this actually is a pretty insidious video; whether they intended it or not it glamorizes abuse. It represents the kind of stupid justification abusers make and the abused sometimes accept, that their feelings are so real, so intense, they just can't help it!
posted by Red Loop at 6:02 PM on August 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


In the songs favour, Rihanna herself shouldn't be forced into behaving/reacting in any way other than whatever suits her. If she wanted to make this, good for her. If she regrets it later, also good for her.

If she thinks it makes the statement she wants it to make, yay. You can't force narratives on people that you think would be good for everyone else and you can't shut women up because they're doing feminism wrong.
posted by shinybaum at 6:08 PM on August 10, 2010 [18 favorites]


Does Rihanna do anything besides do guest spots in other people's songs? I'm not exactly hip to the rap, but the only time I hear about her is when she's in someone else's song. At least not since Umbrella which was what, 3 years ago?

(And when she was getting beat up by a terrible boyfriend, I guess.)
posted by Caduceus at 6:10 PM on August 10, 2010


Red Loop--

Uh, this glamorizes nothing. This is the kind of stuff that happens in abusive relationships. Frankly, as shinybaum says, at least this is all being talked about.
posted by effugas at 6:12 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't quite know what to think of this. Perhaps it is possible that thinking is not the desired response.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:12 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does Rihanna do anything besides do guest spots in other people's songs?

Rated R was released in November, I think Rude Boy got quite far. Russian Roulette was a domestic violence song off that album.
posted by shinybaum at 6:16 PM on August 10, 2010


I wonder if all these critics wouldn't rather be listening to Chris Brown & and Kim Scott covering "Ebony and Ivory."
posted by felix betachat at 6:17 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry.

Wait.

Did he just say, "I guess that's why they call it window pain/pane"?

Just checking.
posted by Wataki at 6:18 PM on August 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


Wow. Merry's life really turned to shit after Frodo went to the Undying Lands, didn't it?
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:23 PM on August 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


I really don't understand any hoopla about this. It's a video about a mutually abusive relationship. Why is this even something people are talking about?
posted by Roman Graves at 6:24 PM on August 10, 2010


"I guess that's why they call it ‘window pane’?" Ouch.
posted by koeselitz at 6:25 PM on August 10, 2010


ReeMonster: "Anyone else sick of Megan Fox?"

Apparently not.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone else sick of Megan Fox?

who the hell is megan fox? i just checked her filmography on wikipedia and i can't find a single reason why i should have so far, or will ever, give a shit about her career.
posted by rainperimeter at 6:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am conflicted. I don't like some of Eminem's "characters". I like a lot of his music. I don't like him "personally", as far of some of the shit he's done. I honestly don't like this video. But I think I wish I knew the idea of this song.

Fuck. I can't have a solid opinion about this. No women who are battered should not go back to angry battering men. But is part of this about some kind of S/M thing? It seems like that to me. It seems like it because of Rihanna's counterpoint.

If it's glorifying abuse then no. Fuck the song and fuck him and her as well.

But I'm not in their head.

As far as it just being a music video, it's mediocre. If I take the lyrics at face value it's a crime.

Well, I wouldn't watch it again to get something more out of it. I guess I have to say that the message that some kid would get out of it is just wrong. But I didn't like "Cop Killer" either. But I'm an old man.

I'm putting on Led Zeppelin now. I'm not the market this video speaks to. I can't judge for a generation. I can only judge for me. I suppose I'm saying no. No it's not good.
posted by Splunge at 6:26 PM on August 10, 2010


Uh, this glamorizes nothing. This is the kind of stuff that happens in abusive relationships.

Can't both things be true? I haven't decided for my own part yet what I think of this, exactly, but the fact remains this is Megan Fox going all PG-9 1/2 Weeks with some dude, and if that isn't inherently glamorizing, I don't know what is.

That's the video, though -- the song I can say with some certainty is mediocre as hell. Eminem may have been a douche in his heyday, but he would for damn sure never have written "I'm Superman and she's Lois Lane." Gah.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:26 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's curtains for you!
posted by itchylick at 6:29 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guilt I feel because I love this song is quite immense. But damn, it's catchy. And then I actually stopped to listen to the lyrics, and thought about what Rihanna's presence meant, or might mean, or might not mean, and well, I'm just back to damn.

I grew up in a household of domestic abuse. My father put my mother in the hospital multiple times. And still I can't quite get myself to hate this song, or the video. It's frustrating, because on one hand I think it's trying to justify mutual abuse because, well, this relationship is just so special.

But on the other hand I can see them actually trying to point out the irony in that way of thinking. Though perhaps it's not quite getting through.

Ugh.
posted by aclevername at 6:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rihanna sings the verses on a bunch of huge hits. Run this town is, in my estimation, completely awesome. However, Rude Boy is a great song, a huge hit, and really well written. Rated R is a good album- far better then Beyonce's concept album. It doesn't need the hits to hold up. She's plays the music game well, too.

I don't like this song or the other couple of new eminem songs that have taken over my favorite top-20 pop station, though.

Drake on the other hand...
posted by kittensofthenight at 6:32 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can't both things be true? I haven't decided for my own part yet what I think of this, exactly, but the fact remains this is Megan Fox going all PG-9 1/2 Weeks with some dude, and if that isn't inherently glamorizing, I don't know what is.

What? Attractive girls are never in mutually abusive relationships? That only happens to girls not as hot as Megan Fox?
posted by effugas at 6:32 PM on August 10, 2010


"Domestic abuse is a serious problem, and one that both Eminem and Rihanna unfortunately have experience with." Uh, yeah, domestic violence is just something that people experience, sort of from out of nowhere. Also, I love this, from the Wikipedia story about the song "Kim":

The song censors the words "four" and "boy" in the album version when Eminem says "There's a four year old little boy, laying dead with a slit throat in your living room!" in the second verse, because of the Columbine High School Massacre and reference to child murder offending mothers.

It's great that Eminem is so sensitive to the feelings of mothers, but he could have really gotten everyone talking about the honest, unvarnished reality of child-killing if he'd left that line in there.
posted by transona5 at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2010


The formula of rap verse / sung chorus has certainly hung on, hasn't it?

It was good enough for Sophocles.
posted by absalom at 6:35 PM on August 10, 2010 [23 favorites]


Uh, this glamorizes nothing. This is the kind of stuff that happens in abusive relationships.

Unless you consider, oh I don't know, putting it in a video that millions of people will watch?
posted by Splunge at 6:37 PM on August 10, 2010


ugh. "she's plays"
give up, kittens
posted by kittensofthenight at 6:38 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


effugas: "Uh, this glamorizes nothing. This is the kind of stuff that happens in abusive relationships. Frankly, as shinybaum says, at least this is all being talked about."

People have all kinds of fights in relationships. Some physical, some not. Some are silly, some are meaningful, sometimes the guy is cool and has tattoos and the girl like a model and wears shorts and combat boots, sometimes the woman has a uniform and the guy is in a stained t-shirt and a robe with floppy slippers with bad teeth and someone gets shot or they just call each other names.

But I can't understand how you can say this isn't a teflon-slick, glamorized version of a domestic situation.
posted by Red Loop at 6:43 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? Attractive girls are never in mutually abusive relationships? That only happens to girls not as hot as Megan Fox?

Obviously it can happen to anyone, but when you have someone as attractive as Megan Fox (and...um...I'm sure someone with a Boondock Saints fetish is digging Merry here) getting all Cinemax After Dark, it's hard not to read that as "glamorizing." I'm saying, look at the actors, look at the lighting...in a different context, this would be read unambiguously as hot semi-sex. Match that with Megan Fox in traction or something and I think you could make a strong argument for it, but that's not what happens -- we see them getting it on, but the suggestions of actual violence (against her) are just suggestions. Megan Fox artfully burning is pretty damn oblique...I don't think we're supposed to imagine this is what it would look like if she were actually on fire (where she's still sexy, by the way!). The violence is purely symbolic, but the fucking is not -- we get to see the fun parts of their relationship, but we're spared any grisly details, which is a pretty loaded way of looking at an abusive relationship.

That said, does it fall on this video to teach a moral lesson? It's a music video, after all, not an after-school special. I'm not even sure there's a real risk of kids being negatively affected by it, as I don't really know that Eminem especially speaks to teens in 2010. I wouldn't call on a movie to deliver an unambiguous message, so why should I feel like this needs to? Like I said: I haven't made my mind up on this one.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:46 PM on August 10, 2010


So there are some feelings that are completely off limits to sing or write or make a video about, unless they depict them in a way that is wholesome and helpful to young people.

And a victim of domestic violence isn't entitled to explore her feelings regarding abusive relationships in a potentially unhealthy way, because she would then be a Bad Influence.

Or is there some other less creepy interpretation of what people are saying in the links in the article.

This could be a cynical marketing ploy, it could be a shitty rap song from a usually decent rapper, it could be a genuine statement from the pair of them. Using Megan Fox is a slightly dodgy thing to do but I can't see anything so awful it has to be raged against, really.
posted by shinybaum at 6:49 PM on August 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


This is the same old shit from Eminem - except more watered down than his previous fare. Lame rhymes, verse>chorus>verse ad nauseum, even the same topics... Some of his stuff used to be guilty pleasures for me but not this crap. Luckily, I now have Die Antwoord for that.
posted by weezy at 6:56 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's transgressive. Eminem is transgressive. Rap music is transgressive, hell, ROCK music is transgressive. I'm not gonna sit here and say that transgressive art is only OK as long as it's not transgressing on subjects that are transgressive to ME.

Casting Rihanna, probably the most famous and visible face of domestic violence, in this video is a deliberate, inflammatory, and provocative act. I don't know the reasoning of either of them, but I can promise you that's not an accident.
posted by KathrynT at 6:59 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Maybe that's what happens when a tornado meets a volcano" makes me laugh every time I hear it.
posted by SarahElizaP at 7:02 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's weird because Not Afraid was really upbeat and I thought he was hopping on the positive rap bandwagon. Now it looks like he's just throwing shit and seeing what sticks.
posted by shinybaum at 7:02 PM on August 10, 2010


This is very clearly a sequel to "Stan" from what I can tell, and isn't trying to glamorize shit. "Window pain" aside, he's going through how this happens, and his "character" is definitely the villain. I'm sure Eminem has the inside track to the abuser's mindset, but here he's using it for good. His staple for tracks like this is to build up to an explosive, seemingly stream-of-consciousness third verse, which in this case goes from apologetic to felonious very smoothly, while also being pointed about the tools in an abuser's repertoire, e.g. "Can't you hear the sincerity in my voice?"

I thought it was powerful as hell, and I doubt that Megan Fox, Dominic Monaghan, or for-fucks-sake Rihanna would be involved with a project about how, "sometimes I just love you too much, baby."
posted by Navelgazer at 7:02 PM on August 10, 2010 [19 favorites]


Somewhere in a trailer park in middle America, a skinny, ANGRY white guy back from his second tour overseas, and an overweight white girl -- who munches on another donut and thinks Megan Fox is too skinny -- are watching this video. Each of them thinking, "THIS IS JUST LIKE MY LIFE!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:05 PM on August 10, 2010


Did anyone say how much money, yet? I guess not. Nevermind.
posted by Splunge at 7:06 PM on August 10, 2010


Yo Eminem I'm real happy for you and I'ma let you finish but Farrah Fawcett had the best burning bed of all time.

Of ALL TIME.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:13 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


SarahElizaP: ""Maybe that's what happens when a tornado meets a volcano" makes me laugh every time I hear it."

Yeah right, everyone knows the volcano would kick the tornado's ass up and down the lot. But it would be so... hot.
posted by Red Loop at 7:14 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Casting Rihanna, probably the most famous and visible face of domestic violence, in this video is a deliberate, inflammatory, and provocative act. I don't know the reasoning of either of them, but I can promise you that's not an accident.

I think the reasoning was that, as Rihanna has some insight into being abused, and the whole world knows it, her presence could hopefully make clear that this is about how the destructive cycle of abusive relationships perpetuates itself. Women who stay in these relationships will often point to the good times as proof of what the abuser is really like, and the pattern will continue because people begin to depend upon the routine. It's ridiculous to me that we would chastise Eminem or Rihanna for presenting it honestly.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:22 PM on August 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


Casting Rihanna, probably the most famous and visible face of domestic violence, in this video is a deliberate, inflammatory, and provocative act. I don't know the reasoning of either of them, but I can promise you that's not an accident.

Hey, a gig's a gig.
posted by ReeMonster at 7:24 PM on August 10, 2010


Splunge: “I am conflicted. I don't like some of Eminem's "characters". I like a lot of his music. I don't like him "personally", as far of some of the shit he's done. I honestly don't like this video. But I think I wish I knew the idea of this song...”

Well, let's be clear about intentions at least – I don't think it's too difficult, anyway.

Putting this somewhat in context, this is the second single for Eminem's new record, Recovery. The first was "Not Afraid," from which you'll probably get a better idea of where he's at right now; apparently there's been a few years of painkiller addiction, during which supposedly Elton John helped him through some tough spots. Anyway, this new thing is clearly styled as serious, as a getting better album, and, yes, as a comeback record.

So I think it's pretty clear that this is not Eminem in the 'angry' mode. He's not trying to show off, and frankly I think anybody who's familiar with his 'worst' lyrics knows that this isn't it. He's not joking about it, he's not playing it off the cuff; I think he's speaking from the heart, and trying to say something. Yeah, I think this is supposed to be a statement about domestic abuse. And I think it's pretty clear that he things that a lot of the sentiments and actions depicted therein are wrong. So if you're concerned that he might intend to glamorize domestic violence, I think you can rest easy on that point.

The open question about whether it in fact glamorizes domestic violence, regardless of its intentions, is a good one, although I don't really see how it could. Nobody seems glamorous in this. I guess what people mean when they say that is that it seems to appeal to a certain fatalist subset of people who 'like' being treated that way. But the lyrics describe being tied to a bed and burned alive. I don't really know anybody who actually 'likes' that, so if anybody actually listens to the song, I don't think they're in danger of coming away feeling as though abuse is being condoned.

I don't think there's much quality to the song – some of the lyrics are really cringeworthy – and I don't think it's saying anything new, really. But I don't mind the message.

“Well, I wouldn't watch it again to get something more out of it. I guess I have to say that the message that some kid would get out of it is just wrong. But I didn't like "Cop Killer" either. But I'm an old man... I'm putting on Led Zeppelin now. I'm not the market this video speaks to. I can't judge for a generation. I can only judge for me. I suppose I'm saying no. No it's not good.”

Led Zeppelin? Heh. I don't really think pedophilia's better than domestic violence.

But if you want music that really speaks to this problem in a visceral and immediate way, you have to go further back than Led Zeppelin. Eighty-seven years ago, one of the first great feminist voices of our age phrased the difficulty in a thorny, painful way that laid bare a hell of a lot more raw nerves than this Eminem tune:
There ain't nothin' I can do, or nothin' I can say
That folks don't criticise me,
But I'm going to do just as I want to anyway,
And don't care if you all despise me

... If I go to church on Sunday,
Then just shimmy down on Monday,
'T'aint nobody's business if I do

... If I give him my last nickel,
And it leaves me in a pickle,
'T'aint nobody's business if I do

I'd rather my man was hittin' me,
Than to jump right up and quittin' me,
'T'aint nobody's business if I do

I swear I won't call no copper
If I'm beat up by my papa,
'T'aint nobody's business if I do
I still don't know what to do with that.
posted by koeselitz at 7:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [21 favorites]


I think there was a morning shock-jock in Providence in 1986 named Megan Fox. Too lazy to look it up right now.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


But on the other hand I can see them actually trying to point out the irony in that way of thinking.

This is emminem. He doesn't deal in anything but tragedy and catastrophe and bitter, cold irony. Remember Dear Stan? He makes the unsympathetic sypmathetic... the point isn't to spare the monster the pillory, but to warn people about how the monster truly is, how it appears to people involved with it. Abusers aren't slobbering monsters, with a perpetual sneer, looking for Pearl Pureheart to tie to a railroad track. An abusive relationship looks a lot more like this, where he refuses to concede a point, or walk away, or do anything that doesn't need him to hit something to prove he's right, but there can also be tenderness and genuine affection. Abused women live in equal parts terror and love, so they often can't or won't leave. It's complex and fucked up, and this does it justice.

And if anyone saw him hitting a wall, or a mirror, or some guy at the bar instead of his girlfriend, well, maybe they weren't looking or listening closely enough, or they're simply completely immune to allegory.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


The Led Zeppelin part was a stupid stab at irony. Sorry.
posted by Splunge at 7:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whatever decline he may be in, anyone who can rhyme "you've never heard of a mind / as perverted as mine" must be attended to with a residue of respect.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:34 PM on August 10, 2010


It's interesting that one of the knocks on the video is that it doesn't go far enough. Like punching walls, screaming and pulling hair isn't abusive enough for reality or something.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:35 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


But when it's bad
It's awful
I feel so ashamed
I snap
Who's that dude
I don't even know his name
I laid hands on her
I'll never stoop so low again
I guess I don't know my own strength
I am officially sickened by Eminem. Who's that dude? It's you. Your song has nothing to do with taking responsibility for your actions and manning up, it really just another one of those bratty excuses. Didn't know your own strength? If you are in a cycle like this, you should be owning your emotions long before it gets to anything to do with your so-called strength.

And threats and intimidation are domestic abuse, too. This song isn't going to do anything more than glorify childish behavior.
posted by Catblack at 7:38 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Red Loop: “But I can't understand how you can say this isn't a teflon-slick, glamorized version of a domestic situation.”

I actually think you're absolutely wrong. I don't see how anybody could see this as a glamorization of domestic violence. What – because they're made up? Because they're good-looking? No. Yeah, I get that people think it's making domestic violence "sexy," but if people are looking for a video that puts them in a "sexy" mood, they're not going to go for the one by the skinny white guy with a high-pitched whine. Sorry. Eminem has never done "sexy," and he's not starting now.

The irony of this whole argument is the fact that he has made songs that were clearly very much in favor of domestic violence. Oh – but wait, it's just a song, right? And he can say that stuff because he's telling a story, or because he's just expressing his feelings, or...

Actually, to be honest: Eminem's clearly trying to say something here about the deadly cycle of domestic violence (the whole "guy who knows he's lying when he apologizes for hitting her, because he knows he'll actually probably kill her next time" juxtaposed with the "girl who'll let it happens because she 'likes the way' he is" – I mean, when he points out that it'll end in death, I think it's clear what the message is) and I applaud him for finally doing that, but...

He should still apologize. Seriously. It might've been ten years ago, but he should still apologize for that song. Ugh.
posted by koeselitz at 7:40 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


hook, line, and sinker
posted by four panels at 7:40 PM on August 10, 2010


It's more an expression of the thirst for destruction. Which is a gender neutral disease, really. When you've got it, it's fatal.

Art heals. Don't take it as 'real life'. It's not.

It's -- 'what if'?
posted by RoseyD at 7:42 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Catblack, are you serious? Those lines are him going through an abuser's self-justifications. Everything you're talking about is the subtext of the song. It ends with him continuing through excuses and apologies and threats while admitting that he's lying and manipulating because he just wants her back. He gets it, and was ballsy enough to write a hit about it with him playing the monster.

He should definitely still do time in prison or hell for "Kim" though.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:44 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I came here to see burning toethumbs. Instead I got a fairly accurate depiction of poverty + passionate relationships. I don't see any abuse, I see two screwed up people doing the best they can to treat each other well despite a complete lack of basic self control.

There are as many examples in the video of the woman being the aggressor as the man, which is a much fairer view of many relationships that people on the outside would see simply as a female victim.

They're both awful and shitty and powerful and don't know how to handle their feelings. This isn't about spousal abuse, this is about a relationship where this kind of expression is acceptable, despite the obvious dangers of the violence.

At least they've got each other.

Still wish toe thumbs had burned a bit more, though.
posted by reklus at 7:44 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


The open question about whether it in fact glamorizes domestic violence, regardless of its intentions, is a good one, although I don't really see how it could. Nobody seems glamorous in this. I guess what people mean when they say that is that it seems to appeal to a certain fatalist subset of people who 'like' being treated that way. But the lyrics describe being tied to a bed and burned alive. I don't really know anybody who actually 'likes' that, so if anybody actually listens to the song, I don't think they're in danger of coming away feeling as though abuse is being condoned.

I agree with you on the intent, but I can't agree that no one seems glamorous. I'm having a harder-than-I-would-have-imagined time locating stills from the video, but I assure you that both actors are heavily made-up, made to glisten with spray-on sweat, very well-lit, and would not be at all out of place in a particularly "edgy" fashion shoot. For all I know, this was a director who was working at cross purposes with Eminem -- a guy who looked at his cast and, understanding that his job is actually to make people look at the video and with any luck buy the album, favored pretty over gritty. I can't say.

Now: On the other hand, there is something to be said for the idea that what we're seeing in the video is glamorized on purpose, because we're seeing through the eyes of a person who is superimposing a romantic sheen over his unhealthy, fucked up situation. Terrible as they are, the lyrics about (God help us all) feeling like Superman and Lois Lane kind of underscore this. The artful, sexy girl-on-fire imagery works with this, too.

On the original hand, however, artful, sexy girl-on-fire imagery is sexy. Sexy = sales.

Similarly, I don't think anyone would want to watch this guy actually tie this woman, or any woman, to a bed and set her on fire. Yet that would be the song putting its money where its mouth is -- stepping up and showing you the consequences. I do think it shies away from that very heavily, and that's one of the reasons I find it kinda suspect. I think the biggest problem, though, is that by shying away from these details it either inadvertently or very very cynically conflates domestic abuse (boo) with hot rough sex (can I get a hell yeah?). That's...not good, even if, in its own terrible way, it is honest for some people in some situations. That these things are sometimes confused by troubled people is no great reason to confuse them further. And that's really the issue I have with this: It's well-intentioned, I guess, but it's hard to tell how much of what's fucked here is fucked in a deliberate way and how much just displays a fucked understanding of the issue.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:46 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This hits pretty close to home for me. I volunteered at a women's shelter, and I'm from SE MI.

Did Curtis Hansen direct this, too? Because this is like "8 Mile" in that is just oozes Detroit. The light, the bar, the clothes, the interior walls... it looks like it was shot in Warren.

As for abusive relationships, ask anyone who has worked at a shelter for women. You get so many of the same faces over and over again. The abusers are 100% responsible, without reservation. But you see women who, for whatever reason, want that. They like the intensity, they crave it, and they don't understand passion any other way. I thought this video was well done in that the woman isn't some shrinking violet- she baits him, she hits him, she's a part of this cycle, not just a passive victim.

I do like the metaphor of burning. There are people, men and women, abuser and abusee, for whom embers will never be enough- it's direct flame or nothing at all.
posted by Leta at 8:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


To add a bit of musical context, this is what John Hurt had to sing about the subject eighty-two years ago:
Some of these mornin's, gonna wake up crazy
Gonna grab my gun and kill my baby
Nobody's business but mine
Ain't nobody's doggone business, how my baby's treatin' me
Nobody's business but my own

Some of these mornin's gonna wake up boozy
Gonna grab my gun, gonna kill old Suzie
Ain't nobody's business but mine
Goin' back to Pensacola, goin' to buy my babe a money moulder
Nobody's business but my own

Say babe, did you get that letter?
Would you take me back, I'll treat you better?
Nobody's business but mine
Ain't nobody's doggone business, how my baby's treatin' me
Nobody's business but my own

Ain't nobody's doggone business, how my baby's treatin' me
Nobody's business but my own

-Mississippi John Hurt

posted by The White Hat at 8:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know about the quality of the message, but it is cool that a guy I grew up listening to that hasn't been relevant for years still has the guts to tackle this kind of subject.

Also, I don't know how she does it, but Rihanna makes adult diapers look sexy every time.
posted by Think_Long at 8:13 PM on August 10, 2010


It's like they managed to kidnap relevance, lock it in a dark room, and proceed to stab blindly at poor relevance. They managed to get a few superficial slashes in, but relevance was largely untouched here and escaped through an unlocked window.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:14 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't get the video to load because I'm in a hotel with crappy wireless, but here's The Mommyheads song Needmore, Pennsylvania which is an utterly heartbreaking tale of being in love with someone who keeps going back to their abuser.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:15 PM on August 10, 2010


On non-preview: double relevance!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:15 PM on August 10, 2010


Not sure how I feel about the song or the video—managed to watch it once but don't think I will again, because it hits close to home.

But! I wanted to link to this article by hilzoy from Obsidian Wings about some reasons why women might stay in abusive relationships.
posted by bewilderbeast at 8:22 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the window pane thing? When they're in the make up part of the cycle, they are tripping. You can tell because they are tracing their fingers in the air. (Yes, acid and ecs are big in Detroit. It comes over from Canada in mass amounts.) They are bonding, drinking vodka and taking acid. This is pretty typical, too.

And Rhianna is ten times as hot as Megan Fox. Just saying.
posted by Leta at 8:24 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who cares who is hot? They're all kind of nasty, really.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:26 PM on August 10, 2010


If you think this video glamorizes or glorifies abusive relationships then you are seriously damaged as a human being and should get help. Your reaction to this well produced tragic tale says more about yourself than about the artist. I see relationship between the characters is a tragic romance. I see it and feel sympathy for the characters and their situation. I'm not moved to want to become like them.

Twilight on the other hand, that is the one we should go on and on about. Seriously a pedophile hides his age infiltrates a high school to stalk a teenage girl. Then recruits her into a secret vampire cult, exposing her to escalating danger and control. Finally after a secret wedding he gets her pregnant and then sucks her blood out to kill her so she will be immortal. Some further weird shit happens with the baby. The end. Women read this book in huge numbers, line up to see the movies and fantasize about being Bella. I don't see an epidemic of pre-teens get "love the way you lie" t-shirts.
posted by humanfont at 8:27 PM on August 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


Feminists are (mostly) not pleased.

Not sure that if you are a woman and if you object to violence against women, that makes you a "feminist". It's a political classification for a reaction based on common sense and self-respect.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:33 PM on August 10, 2010


If you think this video glamorizes or glorifies abusive relationships then you are seriously damaged as a human being and should get help. Your reaction to this well produced tragic tale says more about yourself than about the artist. I see relationship between the characters is a tragic romance.

No offense, and I respect a passionate response to a film, but my take on this is fairly detached because I see it largely as a four-minute commercial for a CD. I'm pretty sure no one's reaction to it is indicative of their worth as a human being.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:34 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Humanfront, vampires don't exist and most people know twilight's absurd. Just fyi.
posted by milarepa at 8:48 PM on August 10, 2010


NOT PENNY'S BOAT
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:54 PM on August 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


Pretty obviously both call and response are coming from the minds of abusers/abusees, meant to depict their feelings. Though the dumber people out there will of course not get it and think that the song/video justifies this set-up and makes it sound/look hot. But you know, as far as they're concerned, another song will probably come out next month that does this in some new way, so no point fretting to much about it.
posted by hermitosis at 8:56 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What did Rihanna do that caused this Chris Brown fella to hit her?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:58 PM on August 10, 2010


Somewhere in a trailer park in middle America, a skinny, ANGRY white guy back from his second tour overseas, and an overweight white girl -- who munches on another donut and thinks Megan Fox is too skinny -- are watching this video. Each of them thinking, "THIS IS JUST LIKE MY LIFE!"

Yep. You're exactly right.

Your point?
posted by effugas at 9:01 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Eminem has been an interesting guy from more or less day one, and this video is no different. I think his (lyrical) depiction of an abusive partner is a solid example of refusing to Otherize abusive men. His character is who is character is. Reminds me of Bad Religion's "Infected."

I'm also reminded of a vivid lesson I was taught in a volunteer program for assisting those in abusive relationships. People often threaten to hurt others, and people often threaten to hurt themselves. It should be taken seriously, but people often bluff. But - I was taught - when people threaten to murder-suicide, they should be taken as serious as a goddamn heart attack. People do not, generally speaking, threaten to kill their partner and then themselves merely as a joke or a gesture.

I don't know for sure if this is true or not, but it certainly is frightening to contemplate.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:06 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, I've been looking for an excuse to have a good think about this song. First, the reason the song is so disturbing is that there's no closure. She doesn't leave. It just ends with a threat hanging there. And it's real. I know people like this, who talk like this, who live like this and love and hate like this.

Aside from that, holy shit this guy can rap. He's actually gotten better as he's gotten older, and hasn't gotten lazy. He layers rhymes like musical notes -- he actually fits them in with melody and the beat, and he warps language in a way that no poet dependent on the written word would do to make rhymes fit.

I'll just pick apart one verse, and try to point out the rhymes:

You ever love somebody so much
You can barely breathe
When you're with them
You meet
And neither one of you
Even know what hit 'em
Got that warm fuzzy feeling
Yeah them chills
Used to get 'em
Now you're getting fucking sick
Of looking at 'em
You swore you've never hit 'em
Never do nothing to hurt 'em
Now you're in each other's face
Spewing venom
And these words
When you spit 'em
You push
Pull each other's hair
Scratch, claw, bit 'em
Throw 'em down
Pin 'em
So lost in the moments
When you're in 'em

If I had more time I'd actually map those rhymes out with the actual beats in the backing track so you can see how the rhymes interplay with the beats, but they do. And that constant repetition makes it actually feel like a fight-- a whirlwind.

Then after that he slows down the rhyming pattern and also has a one syllable rhyme while he reflects on what happened:

It's the rage that took over
It controls you both
So they say it's best
To go your separate ways
Guess that they don't know ya
Cause today
That was yesterday
Yesterday is over
It's a different day
Sound like broken records
Playin' over
But you promised her
Next time you'll show restraint
You don't get another chance
Life is no Nintendo game
But you lied again
Now you get to watch her leave
Out the window
Guess that's why they call it window pane

----

I dunno, I'm just incredibly impressed with everything I've heard him do off the new album. He's just on top of his game.
posted by empath at 9:17 PM on August 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


My point? That it's nothing like their life. You know, the whole banality of evil thing. You're not as good-looking as Megan Fox, it's not girl power when you belt someone and your boyfriend is not punching holes in walls because He. Loves. You. Too. Much.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:18 PM on August 10, 2010


In all seriousness, I'd put this song up against anything Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot wrote.
posted by empath at 9:23 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nick Cave (and Kylie Minogue) did it years ago . . .
posted by geekyguy at 9:31 PM on August 10, 2010


In all seriousness, I'd put this song up against anything Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot wrote.

I don't know. Pharrell's remix of J. Alfred feat Colossus is pretty tight.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:33 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hate this thread for making me listen to Kim. I think I got through 0:30, maybe. Fucking disgusting - if he hasn't recanted & repented for that I can't listen to anything else the man does.
posted by desjardins at 9:40 PM on August 10, 2010


In all seriousness, I'd put this song up against anything Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot wrote.

In all seriousness, I wouldn't.
posted by blucevalo at 9:50 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I hate this thread for making me listen to Kim. I think I got through 0:30, maybe. Fucking disgusting - if he hasn't recanted & repented for that I can't listen to anything else the man does.

Yeah, writing about a crime is the same as committing a crime.
posted by empath at 9:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Nick Cave (and Kylie Minogue) did it years ago

He just outright murders her on the third date. It's not really the same thing/issue as an abusive relationship.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:01 PM on August 10, 2010


And depicting yourself committing the worst kind of murderous abuses in a song is the same as being against those abuses – you're just, er, letting your rage out!
posted by koeselitz at 10:04 PM on August 10, 2010


In all seriousness, I'd put this song up against anything Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot wrote.

Well, there's (often) a lot more going on in Eliot than interleaved assonance, repetition, and rhyme. But even in the game of backpacker rap this isn't particularly virtuosic. Hell, take a listen to this Qwel track.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:04 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've actually watched the video now, which I hadn't done when I made my last comment. And I don't think this glamourizes domestic violence at all. I think the only viewpoint expressed by either the song or the video is "man this shit is so, so fucked up and I am so, so in the wrong and I just do not know how to be less fucked up or less wrong."

I have a friend who used to work with abused women, and one night over drinks she expressed her frustration with women who, as she put it, "participate in their own abuse. Not that they deserve it. Nobody does. But they keep going back. . . I wish I knew their reasons."
posted by KathrynT at 10:08 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


empath: “In all seriousness, I'd put this song up against anything Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot wrote.”

Seriously? This song? You'd put "I guess that's why they call it window pain" up against TS freaking Eliot? Eliot isn't even by far my favorite thing or anything – I could honestly take him or leave him – but this is easily some of Em's worst stuff.
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, writing about a crime is the same as committing a crime.

I am writing about burning down your strawman.
posted by desjardins at 10:13 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're not as good-looking as Megan Fox, it's not girl power when you belt someone and your boyfriend is not punching holes in walls because He. Loves. You. Too. Much.

Is that really what you took from this video?

I think it's a pretty accurate depiction of some relationships. People think that they're in control when they're not, especially young, good-looking, not-stupid people. And some people just love drama. The "partner-in-crime" mentality that the video depicts perfectly is also a very powerful bond.

I'm also surprised by the number of people who think that the girl is too "sexy" for this to be realistic. That is exactly the kind of girl who attracts man-trouble.
posted by fshgrl at 10:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I understand that domestic abuse is a sensitive topic for a lot of people and that many of those criticizing this video are well-intentioned, but this is art, not a Very Special Episode of Blossom. Art's not supposed to teach kids that violence is bad. It's not supposed to express the artist's view that violence is bad, mmkay? Art that does that is shitty art.

What art is supposed to do is affect the audience. Not intellectually, or at least not only intellectually, but at a gut-level. It doesn't always cause audiences to smile or to take away a Very Important Message. It just gets them to feel something, to experience something. Sometimes it's something negative.

Moralizing about it is just missing the whole point. Eminem's not a propagandist or a kindergarten teacher. He's a brilliant rapper who creates experiences for the listener by combining the rhythm of his language with the content of his narratives. He's a poet.

Do these people sit around and criticize Shakespeare for glorifying the most stupid fucking thing that two young people in love could do in Romeo and Juliet? They probably would have if they lived then instead of now. Romeo and Juliet is an awful story if you look at it through that lens, just as this is an awful video if you look at it through the lens these critics are looking through.

I'm just saying it's a damn shame toalways look through that lens and miss the whole experience of art.
posted by callmejay at 10:23 PM on August 10, 2010 [22 favorites]


You'd put "I guess that's why they call it window pain" up against TS freaking Eliot?

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window pain
the yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window pain
clucked its juggalo tongue at the magnets of the man
and seeing that it was a metafilter thread
clicked once upon the mouse and went to bed
posted by kid ichorous at 10:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Can't believe a Hobbit would do that to a Transformer.
posted by minkll at 10:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm with empath here, especially now that I re-listened to "Kim" again for the first time in maybe ten years.

Eminem's strengths have always been 1.) his flow, which is better by leap-years than anyone else in the mainstream, 2.) that his writing can actually back up his flow, and 3.) his balls-out willingness to cut straight to the bone. Encore and Relapse sucked, so what does he do after he gets himself clean? He first releases a single celebrating his new-found life, with all of the energy and inspiration which had been missing for so long, and uses it to admit that his last few albums sucked and that he won't do that again. And thanks the fans for giving him selfish reasons to get clean in the first place.

Then, with the second single, he raps - with incredible skill - from the viewpoint of an abuser using violence and psychological tricks to keep his girlfriend from leaving him, while calling bullshit on the abuser's mentality (seriously, read the lyrics. He makes this far more explicit than the detractors would have it) and gets Rihanna to record it with him, because she believed that the message needed to get out there, and that he did it right, in a "clever" and compelling way.

I'm not going to excuse any abuse Marshal Mathers has actually inflicted upon his partners, but as for his songs, well... Re-hearing "Kim," it is just as disturbing as it was when I first heard it, but now I have the benefit of knowing that Eminem plays characters on his tracks to exorcise demons, and that the track in question is the musical equivalent of a horror movie, where no one is expected to empathize with the narrator. In that way, it's kind of brilliant, with the narrator backtracking and contradicting himself as he goes more and more psychopathic. It's disturbing as hell, but it's supposed to be, and it's most definitely Eminem speaking from a mindset he knows well. But, and here's the kicker, he doesn't try to make a case for that mindset as correct. He makes it out to be fucked up. He's probably the only rapper outside of Skee-lo who's made his fame by being self-hating.

Finally, I'll say that In find it weird that someone can release a song about the cycle of abuse, and make a video showing the abuse, and then the anger will be about unknown others who might take it the wrong way, and thus somehow be lured into abusive relationships because a music video backfired. That frustrates and angers me. The people who "get it" looking down upon the imagined masses who won't, and then blaming the artist for the incorrect interpretation. Last I remember, teenagers don't just listen to music, but talk about it constantly. By laying all of the abusers' excuses bare, Eminem has given young women something to call bullshit on. But oh, no, what if they don't get it?

Fuck that. If this were an indie film the message would be celebrated. People are pissed because it's reaching an audience that they don't trust.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [63 favorites]


Intentions are a hard thing. For example, check out these lyrics (and if you recognize them, you probably already know where this is going):
We're gonna be a white minority
We won't listen to the majority
We're gonna feel inferiority
We're gonna be white minority

White pride
You're an american
I'm gonna hide
Anywhere I can

Gonna be a white minority
You don't believe that's a possibility
Well you just wait and see
We're gonna be a white minority

White pride
You're an american
I'm gonna hide
Anywhere I can?

We're gonna be a white minority
There's gonna be a large casulty
We'll find new territory
We're all gonna die
That's "White Minority" by Black Flag, a song written to mock racists, white nationalists, and whathaveyou, particularly as the hardcore scene was attracting a lot of racist skinhead/white nationalist types. (Another response to this, albeit more on-the-nose, is the Dead Kennedys' "Nazi Punks Fuck Off.) All well and good, right? Well, it would be, except that Black Flag started getting invites to play white power shows and started getting attacked as racist by anti-racist types, and after awhile they stopped playing it live because it was causing so many problems. And all because the lyrics are just vague enough to be interpreted as straight-faced.

The moral is, you're responsible for the messages you send out. The creator and the creator alone bears responsibility for what goes out. If people aren't understanding you, it's not because they're dumb; it's because you're not communicating well.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:59 PM on August 10, 2010


Burhanistan: "Who cares who is hot? They're all kind of nasty, really."

That is not the opposite of caring who is hot.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:03 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kim is a terrifying song, but that's sort of the point. Domestic abuse is a terrifying experience. If we're discussing responsibility in producing art, I think it's far more harmful to view watered down depictions of rape and domestic abuse on popular movies and television shows. Eminem wants to be the antidote.

He makes it pretty clear in The Way I Am:
When a dude's gettin bullied and shoots up his school
and they blame it on Marilyn (on Marilyn).. and the heroin
Where were the parents at? And look where it's at
Middle America, now it's a tragedy
Now it's so sad to see, an upper class ci-ty
havin this happenin (this happenin)..
then attack Eminem cause I rap this way (rap this way)..
But I'm glad cause they feed me the fuel that I need for the fire
Is it Eminem's responsibility to be clearer about his intentions? Maybe. But if you criticize Eminem for that, you'd also have to criticize a lot of other popular culture.
posted by anonymuk at 11:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: Bluntly, I think you're wrong. An artist should not be responsible for tailoring their every artistic or cultural endeavor to the level where no one can possibly miss the point and there is no possible negative interpretation. Your statement that communication should be clear and unambiguous is fine and good for, say, a newsreader or someone who paints road signs, but for people who like culture more sophisticated than Barney the Dinosaur, it's probably not going to work out too well.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:12 PM on August 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


I thought it was a beautiful song and a beautiful video. I've seen relationships like this. They do exist like this. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's really bad. Some aspect of the woman (in at least one of the relationships) provokes the fight, pushes and pushes until things get violent. Something in her wants it, something that desperately needs therapy. (This does not excuse the guy, I'm just speaking about the female's side.)

You can argue all you want, but these relationships do exist almost exactly as the song depicts. As beautifully awful as that.
posted by Malice at 11:18 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sociological Images also weighed in. Highlight:
I’ve never been in an abusive relationship of that sort but as a young adult I thought I knew what love felt like. To me, it felt like fear. I knew that I was in love when I became deeply frightened that someone would leave me. It took me until around my 30th birthday to realize that a strong, loving relationship should make me feel secure, not terrified. These messages are insidious and ubiquitous and I do believe they shape real relationships. That Rihanna of all people, a woman who could have made a powerful statement against this type of message, is participating in glamorizing the very violence she suffered, is very disheartening.

But why should she be immune to the conflation of love and hate in our society? And the cycle continues.
posted by NoraReed at 11:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pope Guilty: Eminem outlined his stance on this question in Stan. It's written from the perspective of a fan who takes Eminem's music too seriously and hurts himself/his girlfriend, and Eminem writes a response:
I really think you and your girlfriend need each other
or maybe you just need to treat her better
I hope you get to read this letter, I just hope it reaches you in time
before you hurt yourself, I think that you'll be doin just fine
if you relax a little, I'm glad I inspire you but Stan
why are you so mad?
posted by anonymuk at 11:22 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm glad to see people defending "Kim," which is one of Em's best songs. It strikes me as a fairly honest portrayal of homicidal misogyny, and to me there is great value in that, much as there's great value in the Carole King-penned "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)."
posted by Bookhouse at 11:27 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't belive you guy's think the song is meant to gamorize domestic violence.

I heard the song on the radio first and took it to be a straightforward condemnation of domestic violence. The presence of rihana as the singer just made it even more obvious.

The rap part gives the perspective of the abuser, but rihana's part makes it clear that it's bullshit.

I suppose the video is a bit more ambiguous, since it shows the couple being more 'lovey-dovey' but still.

I think there's a little cultural elitism going on here, with the idea that 'these people' are just dumb and couln't create a compelling, complex peice that deals with the issue
posted by delmoi at 12:20 AM on August 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


If people aren't understanding you, it's not because they're dumb; it's because you're not communicating well

In theory, I'd agree. But this is probably less true now than when that song was written. As time goes on there's more and more obfuscation by way of marketing, music videos, etc. etc. I'd bet that more than one person commenting in this thread hasn't even watched the video and is just responding to what others here have written, and that approach can just be compounded over time.
posted by mannequito at 1:05 AM on August 11, 2010


You'd put "I guess that's why they call it window pain" up against TS freaking Eliot?

Don't get too excited, I mean TS Elliot's lasting contribution to culture is the musical Cats. I'm sure some will argue the Waste Land or his other poems matter, but we all know that his real contribution is Cats. The rest of his stuff, like Joyce is just pretentious mumbling. Cats, which is just inspired by his poems, is the thing he'll be remembered for. Admit it, you watched it and if I started humming Memory you could probably sign along. In 1000 years someone will be singing about the heavyside layer in the West End (or whatever replaces it) and Eminem will be long forgotten. He will be thrown in the trashbin of history and danced on by cats in the moonlight.
posted by humanfont at 1:10 AM on August 11, 2010


Maybe there is some cultural elitism at work here, Delmoi, but aspects of this video seem dumb to me, or at least lazy. It's literal. It's glossy. It's expensive-looking. It has silly special effects. It feels conventional, not ambiguous.

I think Eminem is a talented rapper who sometimes puts a mischievous spin on hot-button issues like violence, fame and questions of whether depicting means endorsing. I just don't think this video is as smart as his best lyrics.
posted by ducky l'orange at 1:24 AM on August 11, 2010


well the record company will be loving this. They helped them make a slick vid sexing up DV and now its all over the net. sales are gonna be awesome, visibility of their stars high, trebles all round.

if they made a video with rea DV MTV wouldn't show it. this is sexed up stuff.

also, what cool papa bell said
posted by marienbad at 2:08 AM on August 11, 2010


I don't think this is glorifying abusive relationships. It's describing an abusive relationship (not every abusive relationship, but God knows there's enough out there that work like the one in the video), and doing it fairly well. Domestic abuse is a weird thing in that pretty much everyone thinks they understand exactly how it works and what it looks like, and yet those perceptions can be off by such a degree that the reality gets dismissed as inaccurate. Hey, this can't be really what domestic violence looks like, because there's all this lovey-dovey stuff in between, and she hits him too, and the intensity is portrayed as something powerful and sexual, and it's like they have this really strong us-against-the-world bond that keeps them together! Why, he doesn't once twirl his moustache evilly or tie her to the train-tracks!

I've been in a relationship that was not the same as this, but was similar in a lot of ways. And I'd take a depiction like this over the preachy, simplified equivalents out there any day of the week. Starting out with the words "I can't tell you what it really is, I can only tell you what it feels like" is very, very smart.

As for the criticisms that go along the lines of "okay, maybe it's accurate, but given the song's intended audience it shouldn't be portrayed this way because they won't get it" - fuck that.
posted by Catseye at 2:14 AM on August 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


Intimate-partner violence is a major problem in the United States. Each year, women experience about 4.8 million related physical assaults and rapes, according to a 2009 fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Men are the victims of about 2.9 million intimate-partner-related physical assaults. In 2005, the most recent year for which numbers are available, there were 1,510 deaths attributed to intimate-partner violence, and 78 percent of the victims were female.

so abuser and abused/survivor make song together and all is right with the world
posted by marienbad at 2:20 AM on August 11, 2010


Christ, Merry's an asshole.
posted by bwg at 2:40 AM on August 11, 2010


Fucking Shakespeare, always glamorizing murder and treachery.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:21 AM on August 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


whether they intended it or not it glamorizes abuse.

this.
posted by infini at 3:58 AM on August 11, 2010


I think Eminem is a talented rapper who sometimes puts a mischievous spin on hot-button issues like violence, fame and questions of whether depicting means endorsing. I just don't think this video is as smart as his best lyrics.

Well, I don't think Eminem directed the video. Like I said, I think the song is less ambiguous then the video. The message of the song is pretty straight forward: "I'm just pretending that I won't do it again. If you try to leave, I'll kill you". The video, on the other hand has the girl hitting back and being violent herself. There's none of that in the song.
posted by delmoi at 4:10 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Good point, delmoi.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:18 AM on August 11, 2010


It definitely glamourises the violence. The important question is whether or not that's helpful towards raising awareness of the problem or not and personally I think it does. Eminem's videos tend to be tread a very fine line in how they speak to different sections of society and I think that's one of his great talents as an artist.

And remember that this is art and so it is up to us as viewers to respond to it in our own ways whether that means going home and beating our wives or whining about domestic violence on the internet or just generally trying to be better people because of it.
posted by public at 4:27 AM on August 11, 2010


delmoi--

Er, no way. The song totally has the girl being part of the situation:

"What happens when a tornado hits a volcano"

"You push
Pull each other's hair
Scratch, claw, bit 'em
Throw 'em down"

"It's the rage that took over
It controls you both"

"But your temper's just as bad
As mine is
You're the same as me"
posted by effugas at 4:29 AM on August 11, 2010


Er... not such a good point, delmoi.

(shouldn't have taken your word for it!)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 AM on August 11, 2010


But your temper's just as bad
As mine is
You're the same as me


I did notice that line in the song when I heard it. But the male character isn't exactly a reliable narrator here. I interpreted that line as being what he was telling her, which was false. A lot of the lines in the song are things that an abuser would say, while we have the female singer calling him a liar over and over again.

What you're hearing is the kind of bullshit justifications that an abuser will make, up until the end of the song, where he admits that he'll kill them both if she tries to leave. Anyway, I suppose there are lots of different ways to interpret the song.
posted by delmoi at 4:52 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked this much better in 2009, when Florence & The Machine did it.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:59 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


i just clicked through to the lyrics and could not finish reading them. I am removing this from my recent activity and only hope the song does not become a popular hit blaring across speakers everywhere.
posted by infini at 5:11 AM on August 11, 2010


I wish this video would have been out about 8 years ago. Growing up, when I would watch domestic violence portrayed on tv- or even when we talked about it in school, they always made it seem so cut and dry: Mr. X will bring you flowers on Monday and woo you. On Tuesday, Mr. X will separate you from your family. He will force you to dress conservatively. Every weekend thereafter Mr. X will get drunk and beat you every night at around 6:25 pm and you will huddle in the corner sobbing. You will not show the slightest bit of sexual or even simply love interest in Mr. X, beyond faking it to stall abuse. One day you will try to leave and Mr. X will kill you and your cat. I am not saying that never happens, but really I grew up thinking, "I will never get into an abusive relationship, because I'm not stupid/desperate enough to put up with that kind of shit."

And then I met my own Mr. X in my twenties, and we had a relationship not unlike the video. Continuous arguing on both sides, throwing things, just overall unpleasant. But I would have never called it abusive...because he wasn't following the text book rules on abuse! This went on for way too long- two years too long, and I hid it from people because I was embarrassed that we fought like that, but again, it was probably just drama and hey- I was fighting back, too.

Then came the day he threw my cat against a framed picture, and did put holes in the wall, and I realized, holy shit....this *is* the relationships they warned us about....only it wasn't so cut and dry- there was love and passion on both sides, only one side was willing to let that passion spill into anger and violence.

So I think if just one girl sees this and takes a good look at her situation before it gets to the animal & physical abuse stage and she gets the hell out, kudos to the artists who did this video & song. Personally, I've really been enjoying the song- it reminds me of how far I've come.
posted by haplesschild at 5:24 AM on August 11, 2010 [27 favorites]


I think there's a little cultural elitism going on here, with the idea that 'these people' are just dumb and couln't create a compelling, complex peice that deals with the issue

This was my reaction, too. I'm no defender of Eminem's personal life, but his lyrics tend to be smart and interesting, and sometimes surprisingly complex. Here he has an unreliable narrator, plus there's the whole post-modernish interplay of the characters in the song with what the listener knows of Eminem's and Rhianna's real lives (plus the characters in the video if that's how one listens to it). Particularly when you add in those layers, it's not a simple piece, and there's (deliberate, I think) room for multiple interpretations.
posted by Forktine at 5:28 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


delmoi--

I did notice that line in the song when I heard it. But the male character isn't exactly a reliable narrator here.

And neither is the video. Or do you think Megan Fox can summon fire in her hands?

I think you're being ... interestingly biased. Like, you really want to hold onto this classical version of abuse with a Stepford Wife and a stiff hand. As haplesschild points out, not only is this wrong, but it's wrong that it's taken us so long to talk about it being wrong. There's a tremendous amount of mutuality in the most toxic relationships.

I don't know if you want to see it. Straight up lines in the audio calling it out? Oh, unreliable narrator. See, the girl even says he lies a lot...except he's not lying about the fighting happening, he's lying about it not happening again (which it will, worse and worse, and she loves that too).

Doesn't make much sense, does it? And yet, look at all the statements of familiarity on the thread. I have friends who've been through this.

You know the message I get from this track? "You're going to love this. You're going to be addicted to this. You're going to think it's going to get better. You're going to think you can handle this. He's going to hate what he's doing. This is going to spiral. This is going to get worse and worse. You may die, and you'll love it until that terrifying moment when everything around you is burning."

Could anyone else deliver that message, but Eminem and Rihanna? You know, probably not.
posted by effugas at 6:00 AM on August 11, 2010


Sylvia Plath, TS Eliot, Eminem.

Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps, Mary Jo Kopechne.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Sarah Palin....

Nah. Just doesn't work for me.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:00 AM on August 11, 2010


What? Attractive girls are never in mutually abusive relationships? That only happens to girls not as hot as Megan Fox?

Pretty sure Keira Knightley already covered this angle.

But I would have never called it abusive...because he wasn't following the text book rules on abuse!

I was going to say that it's ridiculous to think we can't even use allegories or After School Specials to educate kids these days because they're too stupid or literal to understand the message, but then realized that you're probably right.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:27 AM on August 11, 2010


Could anyone else deliver that message, but Eminem and Rihanna? You know, probably not.

Could anyone else deliver that message? I feel quite certain that others could.

On the other hand, probably not quite with their reach:

The rapper, who was one of the aforementioned acts back in the day, made it five weeks in a row this week atop the Billboard 200 albums charts, beating back a strong challenge from Rick Ross' Teflon Don, but, more impressively, seeing a miniscule 4 percent week-to-week sales drop, also practically unheard of these days.

So, how did he do it?

"It's no puzzle," said Keith Caulfield, senior chart manager and analyst at Billboard. "He's Eminem. He isn't deteriorating as fast as some would have thought. ... He was sale-priced at two big box merchants last week and he has a big single [with Rihanna] with 'Love the Way You Lie.'"

"It's impressive that he's been able to hold the top spot for so long, which is something you don't see much anymore. But Eminem is almost a relic from another era," said Entertainment Weekly correspondent Simon Vozick-Levinson. "He was one of the biggest stars in music when it was at its hugest in 2000 and he still carries some of that magic with him."


Hearing Eminem described as a "relic from another era" makes me feel like a REEEEAL relic .....
posted by blucevalo at 6:30 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think there's a little cultural elitism going on here, with the idea that 'these people' are just dumb and couln't create a compelling, complex peice that deals with the issue

Totally. I also think it's a little more honest than people may be comfortable with. The truth, to me any way, is at some level we all have those monsters in us. Hopefully we've been dealt a better hand and been raised to manage our anger better than the characters in the video, but the uncomfortable part (again, for me) is "You never know". If it were just "That dude from Lost whomping on the chick from Transformers" and Rhianna tacked on, it'd be a treacly, obvious attempt at garnering eyeballs and seeming sensitive. Instead it poses a "What if" question. Or maybe a "What would it take before you reacted physically?"

Maybe it's a total mis-read. It certainly isn't in character for me to be so uncynical about a major media production from someone who's never been press-shy, but whatever his intentions, I always come away from this sort of thing feeling it's better to ask yourself these tough questions now rather than when you need to know the answer.
posted by yerfatma at 6:33 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm struggling to see the world from this perspective where music videos can either reduce or increase domestic violence in some way. It seems to me that we'd be better off if we gave all our attention to the legal and economic institutions that render women poor: emotionally and financially dependent on abusers.

The real problem with a video like this is simply that it proposes to supply an insight into the problem, when really it's fiction. It looms large in the cultural imaginary, substitutes itself for data and evidence. The fictional anecdote convinces us we've seen something true. Some viewers claim that that anecdote resembles their own anecdotal experience. Perhaps it does, or perhaps our overactive pattern recognition merely provokes deja vu.

Music videos don't seem likely to intervene or exacerbate the problem beyond what institutions already enable. But they're easier to watch and talk about, I guess: the very specificity of the words and images make them a surrogate for real research and serious inquiry into the problem.

In contrast, a video like Keira Knightley's domestic violence ad doesn't supply this kind of faux insight: it's designed to sicken you, not to pretend to explain.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:35 AM on August 11, 2010


I think you're being ... interestingly biased. Like, you really want to hold onto this classical version of abuse with a Stepford Wife and a stiff hand.
Ugh. This is so wrong it's ridiculous. I can see how you could think I thought that, though. But it's definitely wrong. I was responding to the criticism of the song that complained about how it 'glamorized' domestic violence or somehow excused it by making it 'mutual'. I don't think that's right. Even if the girl fights back, I think the song makes it clear that the guy is the primary abuser. But anyway, that only has to do with how I view the song, not what I think about domestic violence in general.
I'm struggling to see the world from this perspective where music videos can either reduce or increase domestic violence in some way. It seems to me that we'd be better off if we gave all our attention to the legal and economic institutions that render women poor: emotionally and financially dependent on abusers.

Music videos don't seem likely to intervene or exacerbate the problem beyond what institutions already enable. But they're easier to watch and talk about, I guess: the very specificity of the words and images make them a surrogate for real research and serious inquiry into the problem.
I think the problem here is that you're trying to analyze the video as an instrument which can only be judge on the social outcomes among (unintelligent) people who view it and react, as opposed to judging it on it's artistic merits.

I think from a social psychology perspective, it's been shown that there's a pretty straightforward relationship between seeing violence and being aggressive. But the song, IMO, is pretty clear that domestic violence is a bad thing, and whether or not the violence is 'mutual' or not, it shows it in a more realistic way, with both sides fighting. I certainly don't think it glamorizes it.
posted by delmoi at 7:00 AM on August 11, 2010


In contrast, a video like Keira Knightley's domestic violence ad doesn't supply this kind of faux insight: it's designed to sicken you, not to pretend to explain.

I thought her video was pretty bad. There's no attempt to explain why these relationships exist, in fact she doesn't even know her attacker (in the plot, he's like an actor except the set is empty. It's weird) and we never even see his face.
posted by delmoi at 7:04 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Holy CRAP, kid ichorous, that Qwel track is incredible. I know essentially nothing about rap, but that was . . . ear-opening.
posted by The Bellman at 7:23 AM on August 11, 2010


I couldn't watch the whole video. I was okay until Rhianna came onto the screen and then I got a horrible feeling and shut the window. It's just a personal thing but it felt exploitative. I could be very wrong but that's just the gut feeling I had. I'm better with "pretend horrible" than the actual horrible (which, I think, is what seeing Rhianna's face triggered).
posted by ServSci at 7:23 AM on August 11, 2010


I can't imagine any except the most completely already-fucked-up people, male or female, watching this video and thinking "That's a relationship I would like to be in." Even during the hot parts.
posted by hermitosis at 7:29 AM on August 11, 2010


Why is it Dominic Monaghan?

You're making a video about domestic violence. Told (at least halfway) from the point of view of the male. The only possible way this comes off as non-terrifying is if you pick the most non-threatening male you can think of. So he cannot be AT ALL physically intimidating. Given our rich cultural heritage of racism, this means small and white. Whiter than white. So you need a pasty guy with pixieish, childlike features, from somewhere in the commonwealth. But then you're running the risk of the whole thing being unbelievable. So you have to make sure it's a pasty guy with pixiesh childlike features who has already played a junkie.

And then you realize that the hobbit guy was a heroin addict in LOST.
posted by condour75 at 8:07 AM on August 11, 2010




so abuser and abused/survivor make song together and all is right with the world

I think you're willfully looking for something to criticize.
posted by Tarumba at 8:14 AM on August 11, 2010


Even during the hot parts.

What about just during the hot parts?
posted by kbanas at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2010


LOLs. Are these bloggers for real? They're picking on this song? I have to conclude, then, that these people who are so clued in about the latest sociological criticism on gendered power relations in America know very, very little about hip hop and R&B, and worse, that they're ignorant about their own ignorance. I don't know how many people here have read the linked blogs, but it's ridiculous how disconnected they seem to be from the song's intended demographic and how much spinning is going on! The internet critics are reading all sorts of things into the song and then arguing as though those things are inherent in the song, implicitly laying all the blame on the artists and getting away with it without having to even once acknowledge: "but, you know, all this is contingent on my having any real understanding of what I'm talking about, and what I'm mostly talking about is people and trends that I don't understand". Also, is it just me or are many of the participants in the Feministing article just in a really foul mood?

Okay, anyway: this song is crystal clear and downright tame compared to the violence and irony in numerous other Eminem songs. It has two people in it for gosh's sake; at his brightest he doesn't need anyone else to evoke serious violence. Here's a fantastic one, where he talks up, robs and then fucks "to death" a "fat white trashy blonde". There's also Guilty Conscience, where he embodies the rotten devil inside every man, silencing (and finally corrupting) his better angels while they (the men) underage-rape, pillage and murder. Then there's Kill You, where he graphically and oh-so-satisfyingly kills his own mother (and in true "crazy killer" style, is in conversation with his mother and with his audience, and conflates his mother with other women, all while committing the act very creatively). There's '97 Bonnie & Clyde, where he kills his wife while singing to his little daughter, and which in my humble opinion is much more insane than the OP-linked song where he's talking to his wife while killing her.

And this is just a few songs from his first two albums. His debut, now that's a seriously insane album; a once-in-a-generation thing (IMHO!) that did not happen where most of us thought it was happening -- in the angry debates about it, of which even I, all the way in India and before the rise of faux-criticism blogs, read and heard a *lot* about. I, like many other women, I think, read about the album before I heard it, and at least in my case the descriptions were so vile (I remember reading something along the lines of "he makes fun of homosexuals, he is aggressive towards women, he hates his own mother and kills his wife (in the songs)" and I just couldn't think of a good reason why I'd want to listen to a guy who was being so stupid and gimmicky.

Thankfully I did, after a couple of years, get to listen to Eminem, though, and a lot of great hip-hop and R&B besides, from my sister, who was just getting into the hip-hop dance style around that time, was about 17 and fucking. loved. Eminem. (Not to dance to, though.) When I came back home for summer she was playing a lot of his stuff, and I didn't even have the time to give her any pained looks about it because the music was playing -- I could hear it for myself - and it kicked fucking ass. I feel surer saying this now, several years later, having heard a fair amount of stuff in the same broad genre and Eminem's own later (IMHO lesser) albums. His first two are incredible!

And they don't easily lend themselves to petty criticism, I think. They resist over-simplification and ad-hominem criticism; the experience of the music (the language, the story, the rhythms) just lives far fucking above that sad congregation of commercial criticism, which borrows its ideas from rigorous study but speaks in the soul-deadening language of advertising. "True Love is Violent, Rihanna and Eminem Style", says the article on Sociological Images. What? Where are they getting that from? The rest of the entry is a projection of someone who has never been in an abusive relationship and was a youngster a long time ago, distant enough that those experiences can be simplified in the form of some palatable life lesson about youthful mistakes.

Navelgazer, I think you hit it when you wrote: "Fuck that. If this were an indie film the message would be celebrated. People are pissed because it's reaching an audience that they don't trust." Forget indie movies; indie music does this stuff all the time. The Mountain Goats sing about love as self-destruction, about isolation and addiction, about rotten characters living sordid, irredeemable lives. No one bats a goddamn eyelid, though, because even though Darnielle relates, he doesn't go through, in front of us. He doesn't make us confront what we don't want to. He writes about others, doesn't make a lot of noise. He doesn't make us uncomfortable. Maybe he's just better at it, but I don't think that's the conversation we're having here. What this is coming down to is: everything mainstream is political and simplistic, everything Eminem does is a stand-in for what he believes, and it is his responsibility to package his "message" in a way that is both crystal clear to me (and everyone I can think of) and agrees with what I already believe.

I don't like this song; I think it sucks, I think Eminem's on a terrible downslide of over-explanation in a mostly defanged language. So maybe he's getting old. But people are seriously thinking this song glorifies violence, and that too, for others? Okay I can understand that you might think so if you don't follow the genre and if you're subscribed to some pop blogs written by people who think about gender and violence all the time. But it really gets my goat that we're having this conversation without any acknowledgement of how we are implicated in our interpretations and how limited and insecurity-driven our purview is in talking about these others.

I really urge people who are capable of putting their own biases, if not aside, then at least in focus, to listen to the songs I linked above. Do you really think that any of these songs is about… power? These are stories of people talking to themselves, people making shit choices and feeling like they aren't really free to make better choices, which makes choice itself a joke and society a farce. People to whom rock bottom is more real and more true than flying high on money or drugs or love, which are distractions and lies, but still less poisonous than the lie that we are individually and isolatedly responsible for our common human shittiness.

Anyone listening to Kim think that this guy was on a power trip? (Me-mail me, seriously.) This is a really fucking damaged, endlessly honest conversation with and about a whole bunch of social and personal forces that act upon us. The mother. The teacher. The money. The partner. The conscience. Etc. And as a storyteller, he is always relating, not just to the abuser but to the abused, not just to himself but directly to the people he's talking to (and sharing his stuff with / selling his stuff to), refusing to be tied down by those really painful, isolating characterizations (the abused woman vs the abusive man) and saying, this is hell, we're in it together; togetherness is not something perfect or truly real, because we're all caught up in our own heads (the man and the woman in the song in question, for instance, are talking to themselves more than to each other) and it's a lot of lies and pain, and we're always fighting with ourselves. And there's no nice bow on the whole thing; all these things happen simultaneously and all the time, and all we can do is deal. Eminem deals. He makes us confront.

He's always saying (in several songs), hell, if I'm going down, I'm taking you all with me. Now, in a rapist or a serial killer, that's a scary sentiment to be sure. In a writer/musician? It's a blessing. And shitloads of people are grateful for it.

And I'm not trying to mount a defense of Eminem as Eminem, even - it's mostly of Eminem in the rest of the world. For example, there's a song by Timbaland and Justin Timberlake (who is, from all accounts, far more popular than Eminem, particularly with that scary teenage demo) called Carry Out that begins: "Baby, you're looking fire hot/ I'll have you open all night like an IHOP" (rest of the lyrics here; song here) where they're blatantly conflating all the following categories: women, waitresses, prostitutes, drive-throughs, saying cheeky shit like "Now is it full of myself to want you full of me?" and a chorus that goes:
Take my order cause your body like a carry out
Let me walk into your body till it’s lights out
Turn me on, my baby dont you cut me out
Turn me on, my baby dont you cut me out
And this is just the first such song I can think of; there's shitloads more. Justin Timberlake seems to be particularly good at this sort of charged, sexist vileness (although, again, my interest in him is very limited) and yet I can't find much about him on any of the feminist blogs. (There's a Facebook group though - with 15 members. From the page: He is such a mainstream character, and this is seen as so acceptable by the masses- did the feminist movement never happen! I say ENOUGH! We didn't fight for sexual equality only to be turned from mothers into whores!)

This language is about power. This portrayal is about power. It glosses over abuse. People who think that's what Eminem is tripping on really need to discover his music, revisit it, or just talk to any Eminem-influenced youngsters who are still on good conversational terms with them. And listen.

And forget these bloggers; they are in the business of viewing the world through a specific lens. Their list of problems is endless and not especially germane to our common pursuit of equality and liberty. For us, viewing the world through a single lens is a disadvantage, it's so much less than what we're capable of experiencing and processing.

The real stuff happens in the music - it happens in living rooms and dance studios, it happens in cars with stereos and in parks on iPods. You can't describe it without reducing it, for the most part. We need to acknowledge that this is all… so much lesser. We need to acknowledge that when we're not talking about ourselves, we're talking about straw figures, for the most part. Did it glorify violence for you? Did it make you find violence sexy where you previously didn't? Or was it about what you already are, how you already feel? Stop talking about other people, basically, because when you talk about other people, you other people.

Seriously, saying something glorifies violence is like thinking of the game without saying it out loud. It's cheating. And no, Eminem should not apologize for '97 Bonnie & Clyde. You know who apologized for his art? Salman Rushdie. You know what happened? The people screaming for his blood didn't care.

I think music can only be answered in interpretation; in covers. Seriously, we should all just stop talking about music like we're going to find answers in the conversation instead of in the music and in our connection with the music. You can't find answers in what's different; only in what's common, is what I think. Anyway, here's Tori Amos's chilling cover of '97 Bonnie & Clyde, for what its worth. That's a great conversation, right there.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:27 AM on August 11, 2010 [24 favorites]


I admit I really don't get the lengthy discussions surrounding Eminem whenever he does anything.

I mean, the guy has an ok flow, but It's like watching the smartest people I know sitting around like "Well, i think 'Happy Gilmore' was Sandler's best work by far, long before he got into his 'heady' period. I think 'Click' was ambitious, but 'Punch Drunk Love' was the point he should have just stopped"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:43 AM on August 11, 2010


Ugh. Had a power cut so I had to post as-is, without editing, or lose it (I have a back-up of mere seconds!)... apologies for the long mess.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:46 AM on August 11, 2010


I admit I really don't get the lengthy discussions surrounding Eminem whenever he does anything.

I mean, the guy has an ok flow, but It's like watching the smartest people I know sitting around like "Well, i think 'Happy Gilmore' was Sandler's best work by far, long before he got into his 'heady' period. I think 'Click' was ambitious, but 'Punch Drunk Love' was the point he should have just stopped"


I know we're not supposed to get all personal but this reeks of so much condescension that I read it and immediately wanted to punch you square in the face, and I kind of still do a little bit.

I mean, Jesus Christ, man.
posted by kbanas at 8:49 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know we're not supposed to get all personal but this reeks of so much condescension that I read it and immediately wanted to punch you square in the face, and I kind of still do a little bit.

Hey, I thought this was an ANTI-abuse song!

Don't worry, my favorite rapper sucks too.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:52 AM on August 11, 2010


I'm sorry, I know art is interpretive, but I just do not see this as glamorizing anything at all. At all. Is it because the stars of the video are good looking? Because there are lots of regular people, even broke ass, low class people, who are good looking, too. (Have any of you seen pictures of Kim Mathers? Despite growing up in foster care in Detroit and being addicted to cocaine, she's still quite a beautiful woman.)

Like I said upthread, I spent the first 26 years of my life in SE MI. It is not a glamorous place. This video nails it- it totally looks like it was filmed in the white hood.

I think the actors were well cast, too. It was pretty easy to make them look like working class Detroiters. Pale skin, lots of tattoos, the right haircuts (you can shave your head or let your hair grow into a mane at home, no salon needed), the fact Dom's jacket and Megan's boots appear to be the only expensive articles of clothing that they own. Again, they really nailed it.

And you see them at a grubby bar, shoplifting vodka, and living in a trailer! How is this glamorous? Because they have a bond, despite the craziness? Because they have strong sexual chemistry? I don't think of those things as glamorous at all.

I think, like Forktine said, domestic violence gets really oversimplified. He's charming, till he's a monster, she's duped, then a victim. It's more complicated than that. When you listen to older Eminem, like '97 Bonnie & Clyde, well, he's rapping there about the intensity of their bond, not just in spite of their crazy situation, but at least partially because of it. Us against the world. This kind of feeling is intensified through drug use. When you've been up all night, talking about everything, looking at the world like it was brand new, because you were tripping or rolling or, God forbid, tweaking, it's easy to feel a special, strong bond with that other person. (I am quite certain this is what the window pane/pain line is about.)

You don't have to like this video. I'm not sure that I do. It's hard to watch. I also have really mixed feelings about Eminem. He's got a really intricate rhyme structure, but I like my rap less negative and more soulful. Having said all this, I think this video is the most accurate media portrayal I've seen of good times/bad times in an abusive relationship. I don't think it's glamorizing in the least.
posted by Leta at 8:55 AM on August 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


HOLD ON! I think I understand now!

ALL forms of art must never offend anyone. All forms of art must only be about 'safe' subjects. All forms of art may never explore anything other than what society thinks is an acceptable idea of what's happening.

EVERYTHING must be politically correct!

Man, I really don't want to live in your world.
posted by Malice at 9:06 AM on August 11, 2010


Love is complicated. Life is ugly.

It always has been.

posted by snottydick at 9:17 AM on August 11, 2010


it's designed to sicken you, not to pretend to explain.

I thought her video was pretty bad. There's no attempt to explain why these relationships exist


delmoi, I'm not sure how what your said was different from what I said. Knightley's video is a public health ad. Like "this is your brain on drugs," it's not there to explain the actual interactions in your brain to drug use or the complex causes of domestic violence, it's produced to make you say, "no thanks" and police yourself so that you don't use drugs/beat your partner.

The evaluative question is why we'd want a music video or advertisement "to explain why these relationships exist." Understanding isn't necessarily instrumental for prevention, especially with something so complex and frequently misrepresented or misunderstood in popular culture. The idiom of the advertising or MTV doesn't mesh well with the idiom of social-scientific explanation.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:48 AM on August 11, 2010


Truffaut once said that it was impossible to make an anti-war movie because the violence was too seductive; I think that the critics are basically recycling his theory. Clearly it's intended to be an anti-domestic violence song/video, but because we like Dom, is it instead glamorizing the violence?

I am a bit conflicted about it. On the one hand, I don't doubt that many films intended to be against war actually convinced some people to enlist (Full Metal Jacket, anyone?). On the other hand, the message is clear to anyone paying attention that the male character in this song is abusive, lying, and ultimately dangerous to the point of murder. The ambiguity all comes down to Rihanna's character: we know he's bad news; what incentive does the abusee have to get out if they "like" the abuse?

Ultimately the critics quoted see what the artists are trying to do here and are worried about other people and what they might think. The "don't act because of possible backlash or misinterpretation" is not generally an argument I can get behind; consider 'don't let interracial couples adopt because the kids will get harassed': we know better than that, but those other racists don't, so let's restrict them.

PS: Led Zeppelin's cover of "Dazed and Confused" was called out as representing "the kind of violent thinking that abusers use to rationalize the abuse that they're about to inflict on a woman: that she is evil and deserves exactly what she is going to get (rape) from him."
posted by norm at 9:54 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


ALL forms of art must never offend anyone. All forms of art must only be about 'safe' subjects. All forms of art may never explore anything other than what society thinks is an acceptable idea of what's happening.

/me sets another strawman on fire
posted by desjardins at 10:02 AM on August 11, 2010


The evaluative question is why we'd want a music video or advertisement "to explain why these relationships exist." Understanding isn't necessarily instrumental for prevention, especially with something so complex and frequently misrepresented or misunderstood in popular culture. The idiom of the advertising or MTV doesn't mesh well with the idiom of social-scientific explanation.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:48 AM on August 11


Bolding mine. I'm sorry, but this is absolutely wrong. I did my undergrad in public health. If "raising awareness" is done in a void, incidents of the undesirable behavior tends to go UP, not down. If explanation is coupled with awareness raising efforts, only then do you begin to see desired outcomes. (I could link to some articles here, but they're are all in paid databases. Plus, they are all tl:dr.)

To attempt an allegory-

Message: "Don't smoke! It's bad!"
Response: "Fuck off, don't tell me what to do!"

Message, with understanding: "Smoking is addictive, stopping can be very difficult. But it is important to quit, because smoking leads to lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Secondhand smoke also poses health problems for other people, especially those with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory problems."

Response: "Wow. That's a lot to think about."

Once public health officials changed to the second, far more nuanced and educational message (and implemented sin taxes), the U.S. rate of adult smokers fell to less than 20%, from a high of nearly 50%.

I don't think acknowledging the reality of addiction hurt the anti smoking message in any way. I emphatically do think that understanding is completely critical for prevention.
posted by Leta at 10:22 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Navelgazer nailed this shit.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:41 AM on August 11, 2010


Well, let's be clear about intentions at least – I don't think it's too difficult, anyway.

Considering your follow-up, it seems difficult.

The intention here is for Eminem to milk his fame for as long as possible, and to make more money. This video, like so much of what he's done, is designed to stir up controversy without actually doing anything too outrageous and/or dangerous and/or ... well ... controversial. Real controversy might mean diminished sales (ex. Dixie Chicks) -- this is just more of the same formula that's gotten him this far.

Speaking as someone who is actually a fan of a lot of Eminem's music, but who has never found reality television all that shocking.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:04 PM on August 11, 2010


ow we're not supposed to get all p
delmoi, I'm not sure how what your said was different from what I said. Knightley's video is a public health ad. Like "this is your brain on drugs,"
Are you talking about the anti-drug ads that don't work? Then yes, that ad was like those. That was my point.

Because it doesn't speak to the actual experience of being in an abusive relationship and/or doing drugs, the person in the situation won't think that what they're doing has any relationship to what they'd heard about in the PSAs. Or in the case of anti-drug PSAs, they'll just assume the ads were actually full of lies.

In the PSA, it's angry bullying "pushers" who try to pressure you into doing drugs that you (being a good kid) don't want to do. In reality, it's your friends who care about and trust who simply want to share an experience with you. In the Knightley PSA, you have a faceless monster, and no discernable connection between Knightley and her attacker. It's more like being assaulted in a dark alley. In reality you have these complicated messy situations.
Understanding isn't necessarily instrumental for prevention,
What an odd thing to say. Of course understanding something makes it easier to prevent. How could it not?
posted by delmoi at 12:41 PM on August 11, 2010


I really like norm's comment. Growing up I didn't care to watch A Clockwork Orange, specifically because all the people who seemed to love it and love quoting it were obviously just reveling in the movie's "ultraviolence". And I wasn't really interested in those people, so I wasn't interested in the movie. Years later when I finally got around to watching it, I was seriously impressed at the movie's messages about violence which (I assume) went over a lot of crude young people's heads.

When you create a thing, it escapes your control. Elements that you consciously or unconsciously imbued it with take new life in others' hands. Stephen King removed his novella "Rage" from print when he realized it might be influencing the perpetrators of school shootings, but his is an atypical reaction.
posted by hermitosis at 1:25 PM on August 11, 2010


This is difficult for me to sort through having just been involved in a domestic violence incident recently and I'm still trying to figure some things out. But I have to comment on the idea that this video and this song are somehow excusing or mitigating the violence of the male character because the female character sometimes hits back, hits first, gets mouthy, etc. This thread at brownfemipower's blog (not a feminist blog, although it is woman-centered) really helps clarify some of the issues here.

My own thoughts. Who really has the power in this relationship? In the song, he makes it clear that he has the power to hurt her if she ever leaves. In the video, Dominic's character uses violence and manipulation to try to keep her from leaving. The idea that women don't have a choice over their intimate relationships is a major one and it comes from a society that devalues women. That gives him more power than she has in the situation and he uses it effectively, if unconsciously. In the song the misogyny is even more obvious since the male character is the narrator.

Obviously not all domestic violence involves a male as the primary abuser. For one thing, this erases the violence perpetrated against (and sometimes by) children, who often bear the brunt of the power women do have. And there are definitely situations where both parties engage in abusive behavior, using dominance regardless of gender. But I think some of the people who think this video is anti-feminist are mistaken if they're basing their argument on the notion that this video excuses his abuse of power. It really doesn't, in my opinion.

Also, a small note. I've seen Dominic Monaghan portray three characters: the hobbit (not sure of his name), Charlie on Lost, and this one. All of them had a dark undercurrent to them (he was definitely the..snarkier hobbit for lack of a better word), and I think he does a really good job with these types of characters (varying degrees of darkness). I like him.
posted by Danila at 2:03 PM on August 11, 2010


: Knightley's video is a public health ad.

Knightley's video is intended to provoke people into giving money toward public health. It doesn't actually do anything to promote public health. At the most it says, "anyone can be a victim, and they don't deserve it." Which is pretty vague.

The Eminem/Rihanna video is funded by a drive to sell albums, but it's far more interesting.

: The real problem with a video like this is simply that it proposes to supply an insight into the problem, when really it's fiction. It looms large in the cultural imaginary, substitutes itself for data and evidence. The fictional anecdote convinces us we've seen something true. Some viewers claim that that anecdote resembles their own anecdotal experience. Perhaps it does, or perhaps our overactive pattern recognition merely provokes deja vu.

With all due respect, that's getting pretty close to saying, "reality isn't like this-- it's all in your head" to people who have direct experience with domestic violence, including some commenters in this thread. It's likely that Eminem and Rihanna probably have plenty of insight here, especially considering that it seems to be a semi-autobiographical music video, not a PSA.

To me, the story in the video shows two emotionally unhealthy in an extremely unhealthy relationship, yet makes it understandable why they might stay in it. There is an abundance of adrenaline and passion, and that's addictive. I think the chorus lays it out:
Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that's alright because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and watch me cry
Well that's alright because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie
It makes her feel loved that he would fight that hard for her, even though she's the one he's violently fighting. And then he acts really sweet, and says pretty things, and she loves that. It's awful, but this is their "normal." This is how they see love. Doesn't look too glamorous to me, but if it does, that fits too if this is part of Rihanna's story.
posted by zennie at 4:03 PM on August 11, 2010


Gah... "two emotionally unhealthy people".
posted by zennie at 4:07 PM on August 11, 2010


It makes her feel loved that he would fight that hard for her, even though she's the one he's violently fighting. And then he acts really sweet, and says pretty things, and she loves that. It's awful, but this is their "normal." This is how they see love. Doesn't look too glamorous to me, but if it does, that fits too if this is part of Rihanna's story.

I agree zennie. It doesn't look glamorous to me. I also don't agree with the Sociological Images framing that they "[appear] to be deeply, profoundly in love." Really? This doesn't look like a deep, profound love at all. He's still getting girls' numbers at the bar and getting into childish fights with other dudes. They're shoplifting and acting silly during the supposed "profound love" parts. Is it because he drew a heart in the air and she put her hand on it? Are they 12? Seriously, give them a few weeks or months of separation and at least one of them will be completely over it. It's just hard to know that in the moment. But when your instincts keep telling you to leave (as is clearly the case with Megan Fox's character), that's not a deep abiding love.

But the thing is, this is what a lot of people do think love is about. Because for them, love is all about passion and pain. And where do they get that idea? Mature love is in pretty short supply as far as cultural representation. It's also not what many people experience in their families.
posted by Danila at 5:56 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's a good link, Danila, thank you. So many comments there say, "This hits close to home."

It's also not what many people experience in their families.

Flashback to early days of living with my now-spouse, where in the middle of an argument when I asked him not to yell, he announced, "We WILL yell at each other and make up and yell at each other again. That's how marriage works," and I said "Holy shit, why do you think it's normal? Do you want it to be like this?"

He'd simply absorbed it by watching his parents. Took it for granted that that was the way things were, a fundamental law as inevitable as gravity. Of course I understand that in some families, yelling is compatible with functionality, but the yelling part of "normal" he'd learned as a child was emphatically not functional in any long-term sense for us, nor even for him as an individual. God, the fucked up things we learn in childhood...takes decades to undo the damage, often.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:28 PM on August 11, 2010


Uther Bentrazor : Midcult and Masscult are false distinctions.
posted by absalom at 7:09 PM on August 11, 2010


By which I mean they are elitist bullshit.
posted by absalom at 7:09 PM on August 11, 2010


Couple things about Flip Flopping Joy (Danila's link):

What is a *F*eminist?

Funny how they talk about how the *F*eminists at Jezebel will judge the video, when the comment reel at Jez is wildly similar to the one at Flip Flopping Joy.

I totally understand the rationale behind equality making the labeling of abuse impossible. If women think of themselves as equal, they hit back. If they hit back, they have agency. If they have equality, agency, power, it's not abuse. Right?

I remember in high school, my girlfriends and I agreeing that if we ever hit a dude, we fully expected to be hit back. Duh.

My husband and I watched a teenage couple rumble in fast food parking lot last summer. It got out of hand quickly, and we called the police. When the cops got there, they wanted to know if he'd hit her. No, we said, but she was beating the crap out of him. The cops gave each other blank looks. They had no script for that.
posted by Leta at 8:15 PM on August 11, 2010


I could link to some articles here, but they're are all in paid databases. Plus, they are all tl:dr.

I'm sorry, but you should link to the evidence before you make such a claim. I can access most paid databases through my university's library, as can many other mefites.

Once public health officials changed to the second, far more nuanced and educational message (and implemented sin taxes), the U.S. rate of adult smokers fell to less than 20%, from a high of nearly 50%.

There's plenty of controversy whether it's the information or the sin taxes and bans that do the work in the case of smoking. We must also consider the difference between keeping people from starting and helping them stop. We should also recognize that there's a big difference between addiction and abuse.

What an odd thing to say. Of course understanding something makes it easier to prevent. How could it not?

True understanding helps the preventers craft interventions. There's no evidence that PSAs on anger help abusers react non-abusively. Abusers can't learn much in an ambiguously metaphorical three minutes that can't be forgotten in a split-second of rage.

My initial point was that ads and music videos are equally ineffective, not that ads work and music videos don't. The advantage of the Knightley video is that it's not doing any active harm, while Eminem's music video-masquerading-as-a-PSA is. If the goal is harm reduction, then visceral ads like the Knightley piece are better than fake insights like Eminem's video because they don't try to explain.

With all due respect, that's getting pretty close to saying, "reality isn't like this-- it's all in your head" to people who have direct experience with domestic violence, including some commenters in this thread.

zennie, there's a big difference between telling a victim that it didn't happen the way you remember it, and telling an anecdote-recounter that the comparison they see between a music video and their cousin's troubling relationship is not really an insightful look into the cause and prevention of domestic violence. There's been a good deal of DV in my family as well, and it didn't happen like Eminem sang it. That's not a disproof of someone else's experience: I'm just saying something we all know. Anecdotes are not data, and fictional anecdotes in rhyming form with actors and pryo-effects are REALLY NOT DATA.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:32 AM on August 12, 2010


Anecdotes are not data

Except, they kind of are, when you're saying that abusive relationships don't happen like the one portrayed here and getting responses like "Actually, that's a pretty accurate picture of what happened to me, and to all those other people saying the same thing, and to those other other people on the thread over there saying it happened like that with them." What kind of data would you want to see instead of that? Polygraphs?

I'm sure that, as you said, you have experience of domestic violence that didn't happen the way Eminem sang it. But there are a number of us here and elsewhere who've said that it did happen in a similar way to them, and that the video reflects our experiences much more closely than many of our cultural narratives about the subject do. You can claim that this is faulty pattern recognition and really this is nothing like what happened to us if you like, but that wobbles very, very close to saying "your experiences of domestic abuse do not match my ideas of domestic abuse, therefore your experiences are wrong."

I liked the video. It had an honesty about it that resonated with my own experience, and when it comes to a subject as misunderstood, and as frequently explained with simplified and condescending narratives, as domestic violence, that's a very welcome thing.
posted by Catseye at 7:19 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


that wobbles very, very close to saying

I didn't put words in your mouth, don't put words in mine. Quote what I said, don't make stuff up.

How is this: "That's not a disproof of someone else's experience" like this: "your experiences of domestic abuse do not match my ideas of domestic abuse, therefore your experiences are wrong."

Oh wait, it's not.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:49 AM on August 12, 2010


Here's a link that's NOT paid, and illustrates the above point pretty well.

I agree, sin taxes certainly impacted smoking rates, which is why I mentioned it. This thread isn't about smoking, or the nuances of smoking prevention programs. I was using smoking as an allegory.

Similarly, while I -of course!- agree that addiction and abuse are not the same thing, to underestimate the impact that addiction/substance abuse have on intimate partner violence is pretty facile. That's the reason that prohibitionists were feminists.

I think we need to decide if what we arguing here is a point about data, or a point about the relative merits of a piece of pop art. I think to call this a "video-masquerading-as-a-PSA" that is filled with "fake insights" is criticizing it based on the assumption that it is trying to disseminate data, rather than cause people to have a visceral reaction. I don't think music videos are in the information spreading business, for the most part. I think they are all about visceral reaction. I also think that if this video does any good, it's not going to be during that split second of rage. It's going to be someone saying, "Wow, this shit really is totally fucked up"-- and then leaving for good.

If you look around online and read comment reels about this video, over and over what you are reading is that the insights contained are very real, from people who at least claim to have lived through it, either in their own adult lives or through their parent's relationships. So while it may not be your experience, it is somebody's experience, and it sucks to invalidate that by labeling it false.

I think it's important, too, to mention something that gets overlooked really often in conversations about domestic violence: there are two kinds. One is called "patriarchal power violence" and is the sort of thing that most folks think of first. The woman cowering in the corner because she burned dinner, the "rule of thumb" 17th century English husband beating his wife with a rod, the 38 year old man in Afghanistan beating the shit out of his 14 year old wife. The other kind is called "common partner violence" and that's what this video portrays. To my mind, it does it keenly and succinctly.
posted by Leta at 8:02 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, Mills’s (2003) analysis does little to clarify what distinctions should matter. She adopts Johnson’s (l995) distinction between “common partner violence,” which involves “low level violence,” and “patriarchical terrorism,” which “involves life-threatening violence over which the victim has little or no apparent control” (p. 107). But Mills never develops this distinction into a meaningful set of criteria, nor does she adequately explore what those differences might mean in terms of understanding the abuse, understanding the importance of women’s aggression, or determining the nature of the intervention required.

More not-data? Excellent.

How about this: here's some data. Here's some more.

So while it may not be your experience, it is somebody's experience, and it sucks to invalidate that by labeling it false.

I'm not saying their experience is false, I'm saying that THE VIDEO IS FICTION. It's also not a good depiction of domestic violence, even if some people, even some victims, think it is. They can be experts on their own experience, but they're not experts on all intimate partner violence by virtue of that experience.

I don't think music videos are in the information spreading business, for the most part.

Are you denying that Eminem is trying to be relevant to a public health problem by assessing and describing that problem? Is this song just entertainment? Why did he hire Rihanna to sing then? Why did she say that “He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it’s something that a lot people don’t have a lot of insight on” then?

Pop art that pretends to be a public health message can do damage if it propagandizes, if it makes people (even victims!) believe that all or most domestic violence is equal and reciprocal, despite the fact that 1/3 of all female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:30 AM on August 12, 2010


You know, I think it's counterproductive to insinuate that I am somehow pro domestic violence by not agreeing with you.

I tend to think that most people picture patriarchal power violence when confronted with the notion of DV, but now we are arguing the perceptions of the masses, and since most people probably haven't even heard the terms "patriarchal power violence" and "common partner violence", much less participated in a study, I don't think this a data fight anymore, it's just a matter of opinion.

Just as most PSAs don't seek to make people emote via data, I don't think this video does, either. And no, I don't think Eminem is trying to be relevant to a public health problem. Not really. I think he is sharing his experience, a fairly common one, through art. I mean, in "Stan" and "Kim" was he trying to encourage murder?

I agree, this video is fiction. But I don't agree that it's a poor depiction of domestic violence just because it doesn't fit your experience. I also disagree with the article you linked. Donna Coker is making arguments from a legal perspective. Not a sociological one, not a psychological one, not a historical one, but a legal one. Additionally, to make the argument that Mills doesn't adequately explore the role of women's aggression or what the appropriate intervention is does not mean that the solution for patriarchal violence will be the solution for common partner violence. It doesn't make them the same thing. Pointing out a difference, as Mills did, doesn't suddenly mean that the answers are suddenly, Poof!, perfectly clear.
posted by Leta at 10:11 AM on August 12, 2010


I was kind of conflicted about this video because I grew up in a house where there was abuse and it didn’t look like this video, and it can be hard to step outside of myself when I’m reflecting on traumatic situations. But this post helped me do that with great clarity – I can even see now how my own view of my experience has been colored by this dominant feminist narrative about domestic violence.

This is comment. The post it came from is worth reading.
posted by Leta at 10:37 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I think it's counterproductive to insinuate that I am somehow pro domestic violence by not agreeing with you.

I never insinuated that. Where the heck do you get that?

I think the PPV v. CPV distinction is fine and useful as a conceptual distinction. You're not a bad person or complicit in intimate partner violence for making a conceptual distinction.

The problem is that there's NO DATA on CPV. We don't know anything about its prevalence compared to patriarchal terrorism. What we do know is that the 1.3 million women die by their partner's hand each year, and it's not from common partner violence. Those women die because they are pushed, kicked, punched, stabbed, shot, or drowned by somebody with the unequal and nonreciprocal power to end her life. That's not "low level violence."

The common partner violence/patriarchal terror distinction is what's driving my criticism of the Eminem video in the first place. The music video shows us CPV, while the lyrics discuss PPV. In that way, the video elides the very distinction you're making. That's why I called it propaganda.

I still think it's a bad music video that doesn't do much harm or supply much benefit. It's just irrelevant and working with borrowed outrage and pain. But I've linked you to the metastudies on the efficacy of various intimate partner violence interventions, so you know as much as I do about what REALLY helps. I didn't see anything there about the effect size on recidivism rates after exposure to self-congratulatory MTV. Perhaps I'm wrong: perhaps we'll have to update our metastudies after the groundbreaking work published as Eminem & Rihanna (2010).
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:35 AM on August 12, 2010


Correction: 1,247 women died from IPV in 2000. The 1.3 million figure is the number of assaults, including non-fatal assaults, and potentially including some CPV assaults that were incorrectly treated as non-reciprocal.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:39 AM on August 12, 2010


I didn't put words in your mouth, don't put words in mine. Quote what I said, don't make stuff up.

What you said was: "Some viewers claim that that anecdote resembles their own anecdotal experience. Perhaps it does, or perhaps our overactive pattern recognition merely provokes deja vu." So, um, yeah.

But... what are you saying, then? That the video doesn't attempt to depict every single type of domestic violence, and therefore fails? That videos that attempt to depict domestic violence should only depict one particular type of it, and that unless Eminem's video's director proved with actual statistics, not anecdata, that this is the most common type, it shouldn't be in a video? I'm not trying to be sarcastic here; I honestly don't get what you're arguing, except that you seem to be annoyed that the video portrays one type of violence instead of another. But I'll attempt to address what I think you're saying, by, as you requested, quoting it:

What we do know is that the 1.3 million women die by their partner's hand each year, and it's not from common partner violence. Those women die because they are pushed, kicked, punched, stabbed, shot, or drowned by somebody with the unequal and nonreciprocal power to end her life [...] The music video shows us CPV, while the lyrics discuss PPV. In that way, the video elides the very distinction you're making.

That distinction isn't a clear-cut one. Women absolutely, absolutely die or get severely injured in abusive relationships where they have, in the past, yelled at or hit the man who eventually kills them. If a partner punches you in the face, it does not matter whether you collapse in tears or punch them right back - them punching you is still them punching you, with the same things driving it, with the same end-point in sight. Part of the problem with this type of abuse is that people don't know what the hell to do with it, because it doesn't fit the typical narrative of abuse - and it is really, really not helpful to tell people that since it doesn't fit that narrative of abuse, it won't lead to serious injury or death. It absolutely can.

It's also not a good depiction of domestic violence, even if some people, even some victims, think it is. They can be experts on their own experience, but they're not experts on all intimate partner violence by virtue of that experience.

It's a good depiction of that particular type of domestic violence. It is not, nor does it attempt to be, a depiction of all types of domestic violence ever. I don't claim that having experienced this particular type of domestic violence makes me an expert on all intimate partner violence, but it sure as hell qualifies me to tell you that the video - complete with lyrics - does, indeed, accurately depict a particular thing which really exists in the world, a thing which I have indeed experienced. I'm not quite sure what you feel qualifies you to be an expert on telling me I'm wrong.
posted by Catseye at 12:57 PM on August 12, 2010


I still think it's a bad music video that doesn't do much harm or supply much benefit. It's just irrelevant and working with borrowed outrage and pain. But I've linked you to the metastudies on the efficacy of various intimate partner violence interventions, so you know as much as I do about what REALLY helps.

25 million people have seen this video. How many people have experience with 'intimate partner violence interventions' in the average week? I'm gonna guess not 25 million.
posted by empath at 1:03 PM on August 12, 2010


That the video doesn't attempt to depict every single type of domestic violence, and therefore fails?

My argument so far is twofold: first, that the video is misleading, since it depicts "low level violence" that is reciprocal and equal, while the lyrics describe murder. Second, it is useless and irrelevant to the goal of prevention.

I guess this is kind of a new, third objection, but I also think that the lack of insight is icky when it combines with the profit motive. It's gross to take advantage of people's trauma in order to sell records.

That distinction isn't a clear-cut one

Yes it is: common partner violence is reciprocal "low level violence," while patriarchal terror “involves life-threatening violence over which the victim has little or no apparent control.” The distinction is absolutely clear cut. What's lacking is evidence of the prevalence and connection between the clearly distinguished concepts when enacted, and whether the one leads to the other.

But again, some data: in a year when 1.3 million women were assaulted by their partners, only 1,247 died. So there's a lot of intimate partner violence that doesn't rise to the level of murder. Now tell me: how many of those 1.3 million women were swinging back?

it sure as hell qualifies me to tell you that the video - complete with lyrics - does, indeed, accurately depict a particular thing which really exists in the world, a thing which I have indeed experienced.

I wasn't talking about you. I was talking about Rihanna. You haven't claimed that the entirety of domestic violence is contained within this video, you've simply said it resembles your experience. Rihanna's claim is that “He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it’s something that a lot people don’t have a lot of insight on.” She's a victim, but her victimhood doesn't make her an expert on "the whole cycle."

As to the theoretical point, I don't see why your first-person epistemic authority makes you any sort of aesthetic authority. You can be right about your experience but wrong about what the video depicts, can't you? It's easy enough to misinterpret an audio-visual text as it is, but it's especially easy when it's related to an intimate trauma. The fact that many people say, "This is like my experience," and then go on to describe very different experiences suggests that the video is a kind of Domestic Violence Rorschach Test. Our brains fill in the empty spaces from memory. That's why I think it's icky that Eminem profits from having built such a scrim for us to project our painful histories upon.

How many people have experience with 'intimate partner violence interventions' in the average week? I'm gonna guess not 25 million.

How many people encounter the legal and economic institutions that enable or prevent intimate partner violence in the average week? Are you serious? The answer is: all of us. 307 million in the US alone. Do they work? Well, abuser recidivism is between 20-40%. So we have some room to improve.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:51 PM on August 12, 2010


How many people encounter the legal and economic institutions that enable or prevent intimate partner violence in the average week? Are you serious? The answer is: all of us. 307 million in the US alone.

This doesn't even make sense.
posted by empath at 1:55 PM on August 12, 2010


And I would suggest to you that the lyrics don't talk about PPV. There's a mutual fight in the lyrics, and then he SAYS he's going to burn the house down with them in it, but he doesn't actually follow through in the song itself. My take away from the song is that he is suggesting that while you may think that it's mutual and there are limits to what he'll do, you won't really know until he does the worst thing.

Regardless, nobody ever said this video or song is a public service message. He's expressing something about life that is real and that has relevance to people who either are or believe themselves to be in a similar situations. I think that is valuable enough, just as art. Whether it actually does anything postive for anyone in a domestic violence situation would be a bonus.
posted by empath at 1:59 PM on August 12, 2010


Yes it is: common partner violence is reciprocal "low level violence," while patriarchal terror “involves life-threatening violence over which the victim has little or no apparent control.” The distinction is absolutely clear cut. What's lacking is evidence of the prevalence and connection between the clearly distinguished concepts when enacted, and whether the one leads to the other.

Ah, okay. So when my former partner picked me up by the throat and slammed me into a wall, choking me so that I couldn't breathe, was that non-life-threatening because the last time he'd backhanded me I slapped him back? When he threatened to kill himself and take me with him - but on the same day that I'd yelled at him to fuck off because I was leaving him - does that become 'low-level violence' because I'd raised my voice?

But again, some data: in a year when 1.3 million women were assaulted by their partners, only 1,247 died. So there's a lot of intimate partner violence that doesn't rise to the level of murder. Now tell me: how many of those 1.3 million women were swinging back?

I don't know. You don't know. You didn't meet them. I didn't meet them. I would guess more than zero.

I wasn't talking about you. I was talking about Rihanna. You haven't claimed that the entirety of domestic violence is contained within this video, you've simply said it resembles your experience. Rihanna's claim is that “He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it’s something that a lot people don’t have a lot of insight on.” She's a victim, but her victimhood doesn't make her an expert on "the whole cycle."

There isn't one single cycle of domestic violence. There are several different dynamics, one of which this video depicts.

As to the theoretical point, I don't see why your first-person epistemic authority makes you any sort of aesthetic authority. You can be right about your experience but wrong about what the video depicts, can't you? It's easy enough to misinterpret an audio-visual text as it is, but it's especially easy when it's related to an intimate trauma.

I'm lost here, because I'm honestly not sure what distinction you're making between what the video depicts and what I'm seeing the video as depicting.

The fact that many people say, "This is like my experience," and then go on to describe very different experiences suggests that the video is a kind of Domestic Violence Rorschach Test. Our brains fill in the empty spaces from memory. That's why I think it's icky that Eminem profits from having built such a scrim for us to project our painful histories upon.

Well, yeah, like every other song ever written. Sure, the relationship depicted in the video doesn't depict my own relationship exactly - neither of us took drugs, we didn't live in Detroit, he didn't have any tattoos, among others. We project our positive experiences upon love songs, we project our sad experiences upon sad songs. We don't need them to be exact portrayal of our own life, we only need them to be describing something we recognise. And that video depicts something I recognise, right up to and including the threats of murder which you seem to see as inaccurate.
posted by Catseye at 2:14 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry those things happened to you, Catseye, but they're clearly examples of PPV, not CPV. You've described something non-reciprocal and life-threatening. Not low level! Not equal!

I'm honestly not sure what distinction you're making between what the video depicts and what I'm seeing the video as depicting.

You can expertly describe your own experiences, but you're not accurately describing the music video. Those things don't happen in the video!

She punches him the face, but he never hits her. He grabs her arm, and he punches the wall. He plans to burn her, but not himself. (I don't think he threatens, in the video: the lyric is not addressed to her, but soliloquized to the audience. On the other hand, the video depicts them both burning, alone: more disjointedness between video and audio there.) So while your experience sounds like a PPV situation, the video depicts a CPV one. You're downgrading your own abuse by comparing it to the video.

I couldn't have known about the things you just told me from you reporting that this video depicts your relationship. You can let Eminem represent you if you want. That's your prerogative. But he's not doing a good job. Why give Eminem credit for "capturing your experience" when you've just demonstrated that he doesn't?

At best, Eminem depicts the feelings of equivalence and survivor's guilt that many women, and apparently you too, feel, where a slap is somehow equivalent to choking, or a vulgar word equals a death threat? But you they're not equivalent, really. You know that, right?

right up to and including the threats of murder which you seem to see as inaccurate.

I didn't say that there aren't threats in real life. Please don't put words in my mouth. In the video, I don't think it's a threat because I don't think he vocalizes it to his partner, but I am well aware that there are threats in real life!
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:58 PM on August 12, 2010


anotherpanacea: I find it remarkable that you know more about what being abused is like than everyone in this thread who has come forward to talk about what their own abuse was like. I also think it's kind of disgusting that you imply because these people have had trauma that they can't have an honest disagreement with you about what the contents of the video are.
posted by empath at 3:04 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a ton more thoughts on this... fortunately for all of us, catseye and empath have covered much of it.

I will say this:

I think (and this isn't anotherpanacea's term; it's used in some of the literature) that to conflate common partner violence with low level violence is a big mistake.

Without totally derailing this thread, when I was 19, I was gently slapping my then-boyfriend's face while yelling his name, because he was completely plastered and I was afraid he was going to die of alcohol toxicity. He was just drunk, as it turns out, and when he came to, he punched me and pushed me off of him. In response, I bloodied (and, as was later revealed, broke) his nose before I left him. I wouldn't call a broken nose low level violence. Looking back, I have to say that I was pretty fucking violent with him- I used a shoe, even. But the violence was common to both partners. And, according to the police, I struck him first by slapping his face. They didn't charge me, or even threaten, but let me know that they couldn't charge him because A) I "started it", and B) my response was even more battering than his was. (They did escort me to get my stuff, though.)

I think that fact, the commonality, is much more a defining feature than the level of violence- because, c'mon, patriarchal or common, these things tend to start and a low level and work their way up.

I have to say, I very much DO think that the lyrics are describing common partner violence:

You swore you'd never hit 'em, never do nothin' to hurt 'em
['em as in them, gender neutral]
Now you're in each others faces spewin' venom in your words
when you spit 'em
You push, pull each others hair, scratch, claw bite 'em
Throw 'em down, pin 'em, so lost in the moments when you're in 'em


It's the race that took over, it controls you both
So they say that you'd best to go your separate ways, but they don't know ya
'Cause today, that was yesterday, yesterday is over, it's a different day
Sound like broken records playin' over

posted by Leta at 3:50 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I couldn't have known about the things you just told me from you reporting that this video depicts your relationship. You can let Eminem represent you if you want. That's your prerogative. But he's not doing a good job. Why give Eminem credit for "capturing your experience" when you've just demonstrated that he doesn't?

As empath eloquently pointed out, you really, really don't know more about my experience than I do. If I'm telling you that the video is a pretty accurate depiction of what happened to me, it's kind of patronising to tell me that it's clearly not because there are things in my experience that you're convinced cannot happen at the same time as the things in the video. I'm telling you that they can, and they did.

She punches him the face, but he never hits her. He grabs her arm, and he punches the wall.

He does hit her, right at the end. And that's another thing that fits fairly well with my own experience: in that relationship of mine, there were very few times when my partner actually struck me with his hands or feet. There was a lot of things like pushing me, grabbing my arms, punching the wall right next to me, pulling his fist back to hit me and then dropping it, screaming (in the context of arguments where I was screaming back), and so on. And yeah, I was violent back, no less than the woman in the video is.

I can't tell you whether this better fits what you define as 'CPV' or whether it's 'PPV'. The best I can do is tell you what happened, and what it looked and felt like. If you're so strongly wedded to the definitions you're using that you're telling me my perceptions (in terms of 'hey, that video looks like what happened to me') are incorrect, then something's off somewhere in your own understanding. I get that this is a subject you feel very strongly about and have put a lot of thought and research into, but when it comes to actual people who've experienced such a thing telling you their stories, you'd do better to listen than to correct.
posted by Catseye at 2:10 AM on August 13, 2010


There's an interesting corollary between what's happening in this thread and what's wrong with the video.

In this thread, you're so convinced that I must be "correcting" you that even though I never did, you continue to chastise me for it. You're projecting some non-existent correction onto my words, as you've been doing throughout. Perhaps you feel corrected, but I'm not the one responsible for that. I can only manage my side of the street, here. If only I could get you to respond to what I say rather than what you want me to say, we might have a better chance of coming to an understanding. But for that to happen, you have to read me charitably rather than looking for hostility.

In the same way, you project your experiences onto the video. You can identify with the video without it accurately depicting your experience. (Think of the analogy you made to love songs and sad songs....) And even though you're the expert on your experience, you're not the expert on what the video conveys. You can't be: you only know what it conveys to you. Well, I'm an expert on what it conveys TO ME. And your description conveys a different, more dangerous, and asymmetric experience than the video does.

So consider the possibility that you're giving Eminem too much credit... and giving me too little.

He does hit her, right at the end.

You're right. Thanks for the correction!
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:42 AM on August 13, 2010


In the same way, you project your experiences onto the video. You can identify with the video without it accurately depicting your experience. (Think of the analogy you made to love songs and sad songs....)

Yes, thanks, I'm aware that we as humans are capable of projecting our experiences onto a fairly empty template; what I'm saying here, however, is that the video in question does a very good job of depicting my experiences in that particular relationship. Attempting to psychoanalyse what must be happening in my head to make me claim that, rather than taking my word for it, is really kind of offensive.

I'm not 'putting words in [your] mouth' by claiming that you're correcting me. I'm pointing out that you are, indeed, correcting me. By, oh for example, telling me repeatedly that the video does not depict my own experiences, in reply to me telling you that it does.

In your own words, entirely:

You said: "Some viewers claim that that anecdote resembles their own anecdotal experience. Perhaps it does, or perhaps our overactive pattern recognition merely provokes deja vu."

I said: "[T]here are a number of us here and elsewhere who've said that it did happen in a similar way to them, and that the video reflects our experiences much more closely than many of our cultural narratives about the subject do."

You said: "You can be right about your experience but wrong about what the video depicts, can't you? It's easy enough to misinterpret an audio-visual text as it is, but it's especially easy when it's related to an intimate trauma."

I said: "[T]hat video depicts something I recognise, right up to and including the threats of murder which you seem to see as inaccurate."

You said: "Why give Eminem credit for "capturing your experience" when you've just demonstrated that he doesn't?"

I said: "[Y]ou really, really don't know more about my experience than I do. If I'm telling you that the video is a pretty accurate depiction of what happened to me, it's kind of patronising to tell me that it's clearly not"

You said: "You're projecting some non-existent correction onto my words, as you've been doing throughout. Perhaps you feel corrected, but I'm not the one responsible for that."

Can you really not see, from what I've just quoted there, why I'm telling you that you're correcting me? From all the times when I've told you that the video rings very, very true to my own experiences, and you've told me that it doesn't?

And your description conveys a different, more dangerous, and asymmetric experience than the video does.

The few lines of description I gave you above did not cover an entire relationship. Believe it or not, I'm actually not terribly comfortable with describing absolutely everything that happened in that relationship - and I'm really uncomfortable with listing yet more things that happened there in order to support my point in a discussion like this one. You can either believe me or not.

If only I could get you to respond to what I say rather than what you want me to say, we might have a better chance of coming to an understanding. But for that to happen, you have to read me charitably rather than looking for hostility.

If you've reached the point where you're attempting to psychoanalyse the inner rage that's making me inexplicably disagree with you, rather than listening to me tell you why I'm disagreeing with you, then I seriously doubt we're ever going to come to an understanding. But hey, next time you come across someone who's experienced domestic violence and really, really doesn't want to tell people about it? This kind of shit is why.
posted by Catseye at 7:21 AM on August 13, 2010


Thank you for quoting me. Still, you refuse to quote charitably or in a way that preserves context. You want me to be the bad guy, and so my worse must mean what you want them to mean, even if they don't.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:26 AM on August 13, 2010


"words" not "worse"
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:27 AM on August 13, 2010


You want me to be the bad guy, and so my worse must mean what you want them to mean, even if they don't.

I have no desire whatsoever for you to be the bad guy. I would, on the other hand, quite like it if more people in the world listened to actual victims of domestic violence describing their experiences, rather than assuming that they as non-victims know better. That would be cool.

If it's truly your belief that my quoting you above is somehow uncharitable or out of context, please do feel free to point out where I'm going wrong (specifically, where I'm going wrong in claiming that I'm saying 'that video depicts what happened to me', and you're saying 'no, it doesn't').
posted by Catseye at 7:31 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


For instance, here's a line you could have quoted: "Well, I'm an expert on what it conveys TO ME. And your description conveys a different, more dangerous, and asymmetric experience than the video does." Even if it rings true to you, it's not necessarily because it can convey to a third party the same thing it reminds you of.

Imagine it like this: you hum a song. In your head, the song you're humming is crystal clear, the sounds you make perfectly match the tune. But the person you hum it to just can't guess the song. Finally, you tell him: "It was your favorite song! You know that song so well!" And he says, "But what you hummed didn't sound like my favorite song." Who's right?

Even if the humming was good enough for you, it wasn't good enough to convey the song to your friend. You're still an expert on the experience of humming, but the problem is that he's an expert on the experience of being-hummed-to.

Yet you won't grant that I could be an expert on anything, even my own experiences of a public video. Or hey, my own experiences of these kinds of relationships!
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2010


Yet you won't grant that I could be an expert on anything, even my own experiences of a public video. Or hey, my own experiences of these kinds of relationships!

You can interpret the video however you like, and you'll notice I didn't leap in to suggest that you were 'projecting' anything onto anything when you said that the video didn't reflect any experiences of domestic violence you'd ever seen. You say it doesn't, I'm not going to question you on that.

Your analogy of humming a song to someone who doesn't recognise it doesn't quite hold here, since it only includes two people. A better equivalent, given the three voices in question (mine, yours, and the song/video's), would be this: Someone hums my favourite song. I say "Hey, that's my favourite song, I recognised it!" They say "Great, that's exactly what I was going for!" And then you, who has never actually heard my favourite song but has read a sentence-length description of it on the liner notes, say "Well, that really doesn't sound like your favourite song to me."
posted by Catseye at 7:56 AM on August 13, 2010


Everyone's entitled to be an expert on her opinion, and her experience.

But to tell someone that their opinion on a piece of pop art is "not doing a good job of representing you or capturing your experience" because, well, you've got the data...

Can you really not see how patronizing and point missing that seems?
posted by Leta at 8:27 AM on August 13, 2010


Insofar as we have a substantive disagreement and not simply a misunderstanding, it's about whether the music video succeeds in suppressing the victim's voice.

"Well, that really doesn't sound like your favourite song to me."

How about: "From your description of your favorite song, I thought your favorite song would be better." Though for "better" here you should read "more dangerous and asymmetric."

On the one hand, if video is really your experience, and you're Megan Fox, then I'd assume that you were as much abuser as abused. She's larger, stronger, she strikes first and does the most damage. Dominic Monaghan is a milquetoast. He fantasizes about killing her, but in the video he burns himself instead. His responses never escalate. There are relationships like that, and perhaps yours was one. But that's not what you described. That's the discrepancy I've been trying to convey between the video and the description you gave.

In your version of the hypothetical, I'd have to say that "if that's your favorite song, then the liner notes are misleading."

The lyrics to "Love the Way You Lie," on the other hand, paint a picture of Eminem's character as a liar. They suggest that all the equivalences between her and him are false, that he's engaged in self-justifications for the abuse, and that he's actively planning to kill her. That's what the title and lyrics convey. To overlay that video over those lyrics is to take the liar's side, to make his reality the only true one. To suppress the victim's voice.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:31 AM on August 13, 2010


Everyone's entitled to be an expert on her opinion, and her experience.

Except me?

But to tell someone that their opinion on a piece of pop art is "not doing a good job of representing you or capturing your experience" because, well, you've got the data...

This is a callback to an irrelevant part of the thread before Catseye and I began to talk to each other. It's completely out of context and a bad faith reading of what I'm saying.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2010


There are relationships like that, and perhaps yours was one. But that's not what you described. That's the discrepancy I've been trying to convey between the video and the description you gave.

I didn't describe (much about) that relationship. I initially said that the video resembled my own experiences in an abusive relationship, without elaborating. A few posts later, I said - in response to your claim that reciprocal violence was 'low-level' and not life-threatening - that several incidents in that relationship actually had been life-threatening. You really do only have the equivalent of a one-line sentence from the liner notes, here.

If you'd rather claim that it's impossible for you to judge the accuracy of my claim that the video gets a lot of things spot on without a lengthy description of my relationship, then okay, that's up to you. But really, all you should need from there is me telling you it does. Taking a stance of scepticism in response to an abuse victim's description of their own abuse is not, generally, a great way to go.

They suggest that all the equivalences between her and him are false, that he's engaged in self-justifications for the abuse, and that he's actively planning to kill her. That's what the title and lyrics convey. To overlay that video over those lyrics is to take the liar's side, to make his reality the only true one. To suppress the victim's voice.

There's a victim talking to you here, and you're not listening to her.
posted by Catseye at 8:39 AM on August 13, 2010


There's a victim talking to you here, and you're not listening to her.

Aren't I? Tell me more about myself. I didn't realize your expertise was so extensive.

your claim that reciprocal violence was 'low-level' and not life-threatening

Again, this is not what I said. I defined a term, "common partner violence," as reciprocal and low level. I contrasted that term with another one, "patriarchal power violence," which is non-reciprocal or asymmetric and life-threatening. So the instant you told me you were choked, I could say, without knowing the rest of the story, that we weren't dealing with low level violence, and thus not common partner violence, as choking can easily and accidentally kill.

Again, I am the only expert on my opinions and experiences in this thread. Same as you.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:58 AM on August 13, 2010


Aren't I? Tell me more about myself. I didn't realize your expertise was so extensive.

You are not listening to what I'm telling you - specifically, when what I'm telling you is "I was in a relationship that looked and felt very much like the one depicted there." That isn't supposed to be an insightful character analysis of what's going on deep inside you, or anything. Just a description of what's gone on so far in this conversation.

And with that, I'm out. Domestic abuse is a subject that's tough enough for me to talk about at the best of times, and this is way, way too combative and condescending an approach to deal with.
posted by Catseye at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2010


Domestic abuse is a subject that's tough enough for me to talk about at the best of times, and this is way, way too combative and condescending an approach to deal with.

I feel the same way, though I must admit that this looks more like a parting shot than an apology or a ceasefire.

You've spent this entire conversation telling me what I said, what I meant, and what I experienced rather than reading my words with charity. And yet you're accusing me of condescension and combativeness.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:34 AM on August 13, 2010


Everyone's entitled to be an expert on her opinion, and her experience.

Except me?


You are entitled to be an expert on YOUR OWN experience. Just yours. Not catseye's, not mine, not any of the many, many others who think this video did a good job of expressing their experience. For you to say that the video doesn't do a good job of expressing the experience of others makes it sound like you are claiming expertise in another person's experience, and then trying to justify this "expertise" with data.


On the one hand, if video is really your experience, and you're Megan Fox, then I'd assume that you were as much abuser as abused. She's larger, stronger, she strikes first and does the most damage. Dominic Monaghan is a milquetoast. He fantasizes about killing her, but in the video he burns himself instead.

Bolding mine.

No. This is just wrong. Megan Fox is 5'6" and weighs 110#-115#. Dominic Monaghan is an inch taller and 30#-40# heavier, and most of that appears to be in his arms and shoulders. He is bigger and almost certainly stronger.

At the end, Megan is the one whose bruised up to shit, not Dominic.

Also, the fact that Megan is an abuser, too is one of the cruxes of this story. She abuses him back. "You're temper's just as bad as mine is/You're the same as me"; "Maybe this is what happens when a tornado meets a volcano". It's not that Dom's not abusive, or stronger, or terrifying. (That shit in the bar? My God.) It's that, though Dom's 100% responsible for his actions, Megan has a role in the toxicity of their relationship, too. She starts it, she spits in his face, she taunts and manipulates him. Now, that is no excuse whatsoever to resort to physical violence, but let's say, for just a second, that Meg's character did all this same stuff, but Dom never shoved her down, pinned her, chased her, or punched the wall. If that were the case, and this was in AskMe, we'd all be saying, "DTMFA!" She's a victim, but she's also an abuser. It's certainly possible to be both.
posted by Leta at 9:35 AM on August 13, 2010


She's a victim, but she's also an abuser. It's certainly possible to be both.

I think this is something a lot of people have a hard time with. I've known people who were in such relationships. One can abuse someone and be abused by them and neither of those things negates the other.
posted by Justinian at 3:02 PM on August 13, 2010


Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused.
posted by empath at 3:06 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's a victim, but she's also an abuser. It's certainly possible to be both.

I think this is something a lot of people have a hard time with.

So people have an interesting tendency to describe events in such a way that makes them look like angels, and others look like mustache-twirling Bad Guys. It's remarkably rare to hear an honest assessment of what actually happened, and one of the grand challenges is piecing together the truth across many perspectives.

What's fascinating about the Eminem video is that it's operating from this oddly neutral perspective -- Domestic Violence is awful, but tragic; she's a victim, but also an abuser; he's an abuser, but also a victim. There are no easy answers, no winner or losers, no MF to DTA.

This is so counter to established narratives, that you get the curious scene of a victim having to defend her familiarity with the video. Anotherpanacea, there's no other way around it -- you've got a nice clean academic model in your head, with CPV and PPV and appropriate violence levels and clean discriminators.

No battle plan survives the war zone. You wrote:

"I defined a term, "common partner violence," as reciprocal and low level. I contrasted that term with another one, "patriarchal power violence," which is non-reciprocal or asymmetric and life-threatening. So the instant you told me you were choked, I could say, without knowing the rest of the story, that we weren't dealing with low level violence, and thus not common partner violence, as choking can easily and accidentally kill."

Memories trump definitions, and a fist in your face trumps a book on your desk. It is entirely possible that Catseye was in a relationship that had both reciprocal and life-threatening violence. I have a good friend with this precise scenario in her history.

In fact, there's a subtle bias in your terminology, that rather discredits it. PPV assumes that, if there's asymmetrical and life threatening violence, it must be in defense of patriarchy. Not only does that ascribe political motivations for a rather personal action, but it assumes that women are only capable of low level violence and that if there's anything life threatening, it must come from a man.
posted by effugas at 6:15 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone I know was stabbed through the liver and lung while he was sleeping by a girl who thought he was cheating on her, so there's that.
posted by empath at 7:03 PM on August 14, 2010


My husband and I watched a teenage couple rumble in fast food parking lot last summer. It got out of hand quickly, and we called the police. When the cops got there, they wanted to know if he'd hit her. No, we said, but she was beating the crap out of him. The cops gave each other blank looks. They had no script for that.

To quote Leta -- the problem with entrenched theory. When reality shows up, people lack the necessary concepts to process it.
posted by effugas at 8:05 PM on August 14, 2010


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