Guilty Pleasures and Eminem’s F-Bomb Drama
Eminem’s new album, “The Marshall Mathers LP2″, is slated for release November 5th. No reputable outlet has yet reviewed the album’s actual content or quality, but that hasn’t stopped commentators at the NY Daily News and the Hollywood Reporter from breathlessly ringing the alarm: it’s full of homophobic slurs, including the word “f*ggot”, and Eminem still alleges that he isn’t personally homophobic. What are we to make of the enduring paradox that is Eminem?!
Maybe I feel like I’m too old for this shit because I started loving Eminem’s music in the late ’90s. Or maybe it’s because I’m bone-tired of media constantly vilifying hip hop as though its rhetoric is unique among all music genres in its violence, misogyny, and homophobia (no, it’s not). Do I love that Eminem throws around the word “f*ggot” and talks about murdering women? Sure don’t. Did I have it on in the background as I wrote several lesbian-feminist manifestos during college? Sure did. Music both contributes to and describes the world we live in, which is full of violence, misogyny, and homophobia. I can decide if what Eminem, or any artist, says is a deal breaker for me as I listen to it. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. I file this one under “it’s not right, but it’s okay”.*
However, I object to the sudden zero-tolerance policy for homophobia that so many media outlets claim as soon as Eminem says “f*ggot”. Really? In a country where Republican politicians constantly allege that gay is a disease of pedophiles and rapists, unchecked by their interviewers? Where GLBT* people who fight against aggressors trying to rape or kill them are sent to jail, and it barely makes the news? The problem is not Eminem’s tired reliance on the slurs that made him famous. The problem is a media that treats homophobia as a personal character flaw, instead of a systemic axis of oppression. Why are news outlets dedicating 500 words to tsk-tsking a rich white dude who hasn’t listened to a goddamn word of it in 15 years, when they could be telling gay people’s stories, advocating for injustices against the New Jersey 4 and Cece MacDonald, and others, or discussing the lack of employment protections for sexual orientation and gender identity? It’s as easy as it is useless to focus on Eminem instead of using media resources to discuss actual laws that operate structurally to keep a disproportionate number of GLBT* people poor and disenfranchised.
*Shouts out to Josh Homer and to the immortal Whitney Houston.