I’m drawing in the sand a line
December 8, 2017 2:28 AM   Subscribe

 
Gotta say, if there's one white dude everyone agrees absolutely did not coast through life, it's *that* guy.
posted by effugas at 3:54 AM on December 8, 2017 [8 favorites]


It’s an intriguing development, not least because Eminem has seldom engaged with politics before, notwithstanding some vague anti-Gulf war statements and cries of “fuck Bush” on 2002’s Square Dance and 2004’s Mosh – easy to miss among the queasy gags and the venting of spleen at virtually everyone who isn’t Eminem.
I remember watching the Mosh video on the BBC news website. Everyone knew it was political, that's what the video was doing on the BBC news website!

That's sort of the crux of my reaction to the article. Political Eminem has always felt like anger at Bush and I don't think anger at the Bush administration was presaging the alt-right. That's somewhat orthogonal to how the white fanbase understood Eminem, but I think the article has elided the two.

I don't know. I think I still have some Eminem on my iPod (because, yes, I still have an iPod). I might listen on the train this morning and see what I think.
posted by hoyland at 4:40 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


It feels like he's saying:
1. Eminem was an angry white guy
2. Other angry white guys liked Eminem
3. Today, neo-nazis are angry white guys
4. Ergo... Eminem, like, started it?

I imagine the author a bit drunk, trying to make sense of a highly confusing situation, and there's an exciting flash of comparison - yet it all falls apart when it's written but by that point, the editor has already approved the idea and there are some sentences in there he's proud of and he doesn't want to back down.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 4:52 AM on December 8, 2017 [32 favorites]


That makes sense.
posted by infini at 4:57 AM on December 8, 2017


I think there's an argument to be made that Em harnessed the same reactionary tendencies in angry white boys that the alt-right has (because duh), but the line drawn here is sort of thin.

Em was an adult by the time of his political activism, while many of his fans were kids or disaffected young adults who might not have had political opinions of their own. "Fuck Bush" was convenient shorthand for rebellion in a time when Your Parents were convinced of the rightness of war in Iraq, not necessarily a statement of genuine political thought.

The difference is that Eminem wasn't engaged in a calculated, systematic campaign to turn kids against the Republican party the way the alt-right has worked to turn them against women and minorities. The wholesale brainwashing and indoctrination that's happened on 4chan and Reddit and wherever else is a lot stickier than a guy getting on stage and yelling "fuck Bush."
posted by uncleozzy at 5:06 AM on December 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


giraffeneckbattle I think that's why the article just kinda trails off, rather than reaching a conclusion (as far as I can tell).
posted by Leon at 5:07 AM on December 8, 2017


So a certain subset of a fan base has read its own uncouth meanings into the work of a musician and therefore that's the artist's fault? I think Eminem is pretty clear in his visceral "I'll do it for you" response to that dynamic, and is even intentionally echoing GWB at the end of "The Storm" quoted at the end of this article: “And any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his/I’m drawing in the sand a line/You’re either for or against, and if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split on who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this: fuck you.”
posted by chavenet at 5:18 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


1999 to 2004 – feels like peering at a distant era, in its own way as remote from and alien to the present as the 1970s or the early 80s seem. There was no social media, no smartphones, no streaming; broadband internet, digital downloads and reality TV were all novelties.

Like most of his argument, this bit seems kind of overstated.

Livejournal started in 1999, Facebook in 2004.
T-Mobile Sidekick: 2002.
RealPlayer: 1995.
Road Runner broadband: 1995. By 2004, Pew says that 55% of American internet users have broadband access.
Survivor season 1, 2000. 2000 also marked the ninth season of MTV's The Real World.

But he was the first white rapper to appeal to an almost exclusively white audience.

Post-Licensed to Ill Beastie Boys? Vanilla Ice? House of Pain?

(Wait... do all white rappers appeal to an almost exclusively white audience?)
posted by box at 5:33 AM on December 8, 2017 [10 favorites]


giraffeneckbattle exactly!

I also think it is a real stretch to suggest he is somehow the key to all of this....like - eureka guys(!) I have worked it out and it is not more complex than listening to an Eminem record and then feeling inspired to sign up at the local alt-right bake sale.
posted by TheGarden at 5:45 AM on December 8, 2017


The article is hardly saying Eminem started the alt-right. But he was a voice promoting extreme violent misogyny from the very beginning of his career. Teens who loved his rebellious stance back then were not listening critically. Even here he seems to have staunch defenders. That’s crazy! This man in neck deep in advocating rape culture. Party politics aside, his energy has absolutely helped fuel the toxic viewpoint of the alt-right.
posted by rikschell at 5:54 AM on December 8, 2017 [18 favorites]


That is true. I suppose I just think there was more at work here than Eminem. He is horrible for sure - whether he was as instrumental as the article suggests, I don't know.
posted by TheGarden at 6:10 AM on December 8, 2017


Except that the current alt-right is far more racist than it is misogynist (though it is certainly both). And for all Eminem's sins, he has been anti-racist af from the very beginning.

Yes, he was a voice for angry disaffected (usually poor) white men. And so is the current nationalism movement. But there are lots of legit reasons for people in this group to be angry. The anger isn't the problem. What they do with that anger can be good or bad.

I'm not saying that Eminem was encouraging these people to direct their anger in a productive way (at least most of the time). But he was definitely directing it in a different way than the alt-right movement is.
posted by 256 at 6:12 AM on December 8, 2017 [13 favorites]


The article is commenting on the contradiction of early Eminem benefiting (and contributing to) aggrieved white dude culture, and the fact that he is now coming out so hard against everything that that culture has produced in Trump. It doesn't seem a very challenging argument to me, they're not blaming Eminem for it, just highlighting the contrast.
posted by Think_Long at 6:12 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


Em has never struck me as a deep thinker. He’s an angry dude and that is very apparent in his music. I think the thing that has white liberal types confused is that he is venting his spleen at a common enemy (Trump), rather than gays or women. His anti-Trump diatribe isn’t indicative of any sort of awakening on his part.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:39 AM on December 8, 2017


I am surprised to see The Guardian running basically a puff piece in praise of (or at least evaluating the lengthy career of) an artist in anticipation of an upcoming album release. It's nearly like they ran a press release rather than an actual article full of actual reporting.

If you read this article as being anything other than an ad for Mathers' upcoming album release, then you're reading the media incorrectly.
posted by hippybear at 6:40 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


the local alt-right bake sale.

The swasticky buns are to die for.
posted by fairmettle at 6:43 AM on December 8, 2017 [20 favorites]


Except that the current alt-right is far more racist than it is misogynist

I don't think this is remotely true, at least if you include the associated social movement of disaffected white men. I mean, this isn't even off the front page yet. Gamergate, the UCSB shooting, pick-up artists and "Men's Rights," this stuff is the lifeblood of their movement.
posted by rikschell at 7:36 AM on December 8, 2017 [14 favorites]


(Wait... do all white rappers appeal to an almost exclusively white audience?)

The only white rapper that I know that consistently comes up when I discuss this with not-white rap friends about fresh work is Action Bronson. There might be a track here or there that gets some love (particularly if it's a club banger or an Iggy/Macklemore song that blows up once) but generally speaking, white rap is heavily side-eyed for I think very valid reasons most of the time.
posted by notorious medium at 8:02 AM on December 8, 2017


Good point rikschell. I guess I tend to think of Gamergate and Red Pill as being distinct sewers from the White Nationalist Alt Right. But I wouldn't be very surprised to find out that they're more interconnected than I think.
posted by 256 at 8:23 AM on December 8, 2017


I don't think this is remotely true, at least if you include the associated social movement of disaffected white men. I mean, this isn't even off the front page yet. Gamergate, the UCSB shooting, pick-up artists and "Men's Rights," this stuff is the lifeblood of their movement.

They've got sick males from around the world. After all, on the interwebz, who will know if you are a dog?
posted by infini at 8:26 AM on December 8, 2017


I could run through a long list of white people who I grew up listening to Hip Hop with, and now see them on Facebook blatantly showing they gained zero insight about POC and the struggles that were regularly related to them for years. Em is hardly at the center of any of these problems.

Anyway, if you really want a bit of insight about the guy, here is an interview Elton John recently did with Eminem.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:45 AM on December 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


Hi, I’m a white guy who’s frequently angry about stuff. (I also went to the best schools and my mom got me a Pepsi, so take what I say with a grain of salt.) I have a complicated relationship with Eminem. His music resonates with a very very dark place in my soul and it’s very good at doing so. It’s the temper tantrum of someone who was told early on in both explicit and subconscious ways that they were entitled to something and then to find at every turn that this was not exactly true and I think it’s fair to compare that to the rise of the alt-right and to differentiate this somewhat from the plain old racism and misogyny we’ve always had. There’s a desperation that somehow makes his undifferentiated spleen venting particularly toxic. When he finds a target that we all agree deserves that toxicity, it is amazingly effective. Unfortunately, like most disaffected white people, he misses the target more often than he hits it and the result is that he rarely transcends from the misplaced anger temper tantrum.

I grew up listening to punk and hard rock with no foundational knowledge of rap and hip hop because you know, racism, and Eminem was obviously the first time a lot of angry white guys were exposed to angry rap. All other white rappers were either clowns, or rapping over thrash music, or party bands.

So I guess what I appreciate from him is the perspective of all those white kids whose moms didn’t get them a Pepsi, and the raw talent he possesses in delivering that message. I sincerely hope that he is continuing to mature as an artist (and let’s face it, a big part of his schtick is publicly working his personal shit out) but the origin of his rage and his self- analysis of it is still too close to Kid Rock and neo-Nazis for me to think of it as insightful or artistically interesting.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:34 AM on December 8, 2017 [8 favorites]


1. Eminem was an angry white guy
2. Other angry white guys liked Eminem
3. Today, neo-nazis are angry white guys
4. Ergo... Eminem, like, started it?


He does a lot of playing with characters, and some of those characters are maybe hard to distinguish from him, but also out of a sense of self deprecation those characters are mostly fucking awful... and then that runs into the years 2016/2017 when all irony died and you just can't do shit like that because people will proudly emulate those characters with no idea there's anything and about them... so yeah?

I mean, at leats he's not a dick who was actually kidding on the suqare the whole time like the South Park assholes.
posted by Artw at 10:43 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


the perspective of all those white kids whose moms didn’t get them a Pepsi

[In case a citation is needed]
posted by chavenet at 10:53 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


He'd have made a good Emilio Estevez in a 00's Repo Man remake.
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


The alt-right, like its foes, is intersectional. So getting hung up if it's more racist than misogynist seems like an unproductive digression. But hip-hop is also intersectional. So while he engaged in it, can it be said that Eminem did more to further sexism and misogyny than any of his contemporaries? Or was it part of the specific genre he was making music for. And even if he did, did he really cause more angry white youth to become more sexist, or did they do so via nü-metal or other forms of music?
posted by Apocryphon at 12:32 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


As not a particular fan of Eminem I found that Elton John interview a lot more rewarding to read than the main link.

Artists are allowed to grow and change, and I don't think you have to believe he has to be either "woke" or "misogynistic rapper". If you look at the entire span of the Beastie Boys career, they pretty much went all the way from one end to the other.

Personally, I'm glad my opinions when I was 20 was not recorded and distributed to millions.

It's also no surprise that people most easily recognize the oppression that they've personally experienced. I assume for Eminem that's principally as a person from poverty and then as someone who's been part of a community inhabited by people of color.
posted by danny the boy at 2:50 PM on December 8, 2017 [8 favorites]


Personally, I'm glad my opinions when I was 20 was not recorded and distributed to millions.

It's also no surprise that people most easily recognize the oppression that they've personally experienced. I assume for Eminem that's principally as a person from poverty and then as someone who's been part of a community inhabited by people of color.


Thanks. That's really well expressed. I've always been a big fan of Eminem but it's caused me a lot of conflict because of his misogyny and homophobia. I relate to some of what he rages about but not a lot of the rest. How I've resolved it in my head is that he's an artist expressing his reality warts and all. Someone upthread described his schtick as working his shit out in public. I think that's to his credit. He expresses these dark things but also reflects on them and brings them to the light. Where he has got to now as an artist makes me feel retroactively better about my fandom.
posted by roolya_boolya at 4:40 PM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


Call me crazy, but I think it's important to consider what a musician is reacting to... I don't know... *musically.* And the way I remember 99-04, we we're coming off the heels of the boy band craze.

If barely contained rage isn't an acceptable musical response to precision-choreographed Max Martin vehicles, then I couldn't tell you when it is.
posted by Perko at 1:47 AM on December 9, 2017


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