Hug a Gay Eminem for Jesus!
By Wil Forbis
If there's been any sort of complaint over the past month of Acid Logic it's been that the columns were humorous but lacking in any real substance. However, I'd thought I'd shake things up a bit, by offering the following musings on Eminem, lacking in both humor and substance. Hah! Didn't see that one coming, did ya?
There's no doubt that the man we've come to know as Eminem has created quite a stir, in barroom conversation, op/ed pieces, and in the most accurate barometer I know of for popular opinion: the Acid Logic guestbook. The opinions vary widely, from stirring defenses of Em's artistic license to grand dismissals of him as a misogynistic, gay-bashing bigot. My personal views have undulated frequently; I have a tremendous admiration for his lyrical and satirical skills, but even I, an individual who's caused more than one person to actually burst into tears with his obnoxious banter, find Eminem kind of… extreme. Frankly, before this hullabaloo, I wasn't even sure I had morals, but now I find that I do, and that they reside somewhere south of song lyrics discussing cutting up your wife's corpse and letting your baby play with the body parts.
Of course violence towards women is only one half of the Eminem equation, what about the homophobia? It will come as a surprise to those who are familiar with my work, that once I was a homophobic bigot along the lines of Eminem and, as he expressed his bile through his art form, so did I, creating such infamous web sites as "Kill-Gays-For-Jesus.com" and "Boil-in-Your-Own-Urine-Fruitcake.net" (which was featured on the Today Show, allowing me the opportunity have a newly widowed Katie Couric reject my request for her to pop out of a cake, naked, at John Saleeby's birthday party.) Eventually, my views on the subject softened as I began to talk, to really emphasize with various gay friends. By listening to their experiences, by hearing their stories of societal rejection and loathing I began to realize how hurtful my statements were and radically changed my views. (Actually, I just watched a few episodes of Will and Grace and that set me straight... no pun intended!) As such, my feelings towards gays have evolved from absolute loathing and disgust to the simple mistrust and fear I feel towards all humans. I even renamed one of my sites, "Hug-Gays-For-Jesus.com", which resulted in me trading in the several million gays who were calling for my execution, for several million Christian fundamentalists who are now calling for my execution. There's nothing like a little variety…
Eminem's relationship with the gay community has been even more fascinating than mine, in part due to the fact that it isn't made up. (The truth is, most gays have absolutely no problem ignoring me, especially if they're waiters.) While his first album "The Slim Shady LP" was controversial, it restricted its digs towards the gay community to slams of the limited jock vocabulary and were easily ignored. But with the follow up, "The Marshall Mathers LP," Eminem's lyrical bite came out full force against homosexuals, with verses so jaggedly familiar to the reader that I needn't feel guilty for not putting any effort towards digging them up and repeating them here. Despite the fact that a lot of the gay clubsters in my old hometown of Seattle seemed able to look past the album and laugh, the ire of some segments of the homosexual community were definitely raised, and they made clear they were unhappy with a major label record containing such homophobic venom. In particular The Gay and Lesbian Adovocates and Defenders were understandably upset with Em, going so far as to release several statements to the press and picketing his Grammy performance with Elton John.
Several defenses have been offered on Eminem' lyrics. The predictably gutless music press has managed to walk a thin line between their support of First Amendment rights and their stringent politically correct mantra by basically stating that they "get the joke." A more substantial defense has been brought up by thinking humans (e.g. non entertainment journalists) which I've filed under "the Joe Pesci Defense": It argues that in every other medium creative types can offer express views under the guise of being in character, but we do not afford this luxury to musicians. For example, no one's every accused Joe Pesci of glamorizing racism, violence and murder, though he's almost exclusively played characters who in engage in those activities.
However, neither of those arguments fully defends Eminem. Simply stating that it's all a joke actually backfires on Em by castrating him of the anti-P.C. rhetoric that makes him such an respectable rock and roll outlaw. And the Joe Pesci Defense fails because you just can't help but feel Eminem does mean what he says on his albums. Perhaps he's simply too good an actor, but the belief systems of his various pseudonyms - Eminem, Marshall Mathers and Slim Shadey - seem to have roots strong enough that they must come from a real personality.
Which only leads to one conclusion - one of the most interesting, talented and successful musicians on the scene today is, as well as being a refreshing jolt of rebellion badly needed by the music industry, a gay bashing and misogynistic bigot who's being heralded by the music press and teenagers alike with little criticism of his views. That might seem rather disconcerting, as well as a surefire invitation for more Mathew Sheppards, but I think there's more to it than that. While I don't buy Eminem's excuse that it's all a joke, I do think his reactionary bantering comes from the magnified feeling of inadequacy felt by most youth (Eminem may be approaching thirty, but he undoubtedly provides a voice for the current generation of angst ridden teens. Hey, in my day in was Axl Rose.) And like most young punks, he'll grow up (assuming the music business doesn't simply stand by while he self destructs.)
I think Emmie's duet with well known homosexual, Elton John, at the Grammies shows the beginning of the maturation process and Eminem acknowledging the pressure from the gay moralists. Would this have happened without pressure from groups such as GLAD and the stray negative music journalists who called Eminem to task for his anti-gay stance? I don't think so. The fact that GLAD should be congratulating themselves is a point being missed by everyone, including GLAD themselves. They chastised Eminem, and the media for not condemning him, and what happened? Eminem made a definite concession by embracing a well known homosexual at the Grammies. If they can't find at least a symbolic victory in that action, they're missing the big picture.
The final test will of course be Eminem's next album. Will his continue to vent his vitriol against the gay community, or will he do what all artists, indeed all people should do: Evolve. Has he learned anything from the backlash he's created, or from the summit meeting that occurred between he and Elton John? Doubtlessly, he'll continue to operate with a penchant for shock value, but at his core, I believe you'll see a difference. I, for one, think he will indeed make an adjustment and start using his vast powers for good, instead of evil.
What do you think? Leave your comments on the Guestbook! Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.