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Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Class this morning and nowhere to be until 2. There's some work I should be doing; some progress yet to be made on Mrs. Dalloway, which I brought with me for downtimes. But I feel like blogging, and goddamn if I don't feel like blogging about Eminem.

He and I have always had a very strange relatoinship, you see. Two years ago, when he was big, I lived with a girl who thought he was dreamy and funny. So she'd tape the MTV video awards and watch his bits over and over again, and I thought he was a nice lookin' guy with some occasionally catchy songs. I never really liked him as a person, but it didn't weigh heavily on my mind. He's homophobic? Woweee. That's something new and different in today's society.

And then I became a bit of a Mobyhead - slowly, over the past three years, his music's become a major force in my life - the soundtrack for my ups and downs. And so when I heard that Moby was being blasted in the first single off Eminem's new album, I got pretty pissed off.

It's not that my opinion necessarily changed, but Eminem was fucking with somebody I care a lot about, and so there was a increased magnitude of caring. Because the lyrics from "Without Me" are just painfully insulting - childish and stupid. I have a hard time taking whiners seriously, as a rule, and anyone that makes an asshole out of himself in his music and then complains that the FCC won't let him be should maybe get over himself. And you want the right to say your opinion, Eminem? Don't call the other kids on the playground poopyheads for saying what they think, as well.

I think what really started getting to me was when Moby posted a sample or two of hate email he'd received, which directly referenced the text of Eminem's lyrics without citing the source, as if the person writing the letter had just listened to "Without Me" on repeat, over and over again, until the words had become engrained in his mind, practically doctrine. Because Eminem does have those young fans. And they do stuff like that. Eminem is in a position of power, and he's dangerous because of it. As far as I can tell, Moby's comments regarding Eminem weren't crying out for his censorship. They were appealing to the angels of his better nature.


So that was early this summer, with the highlight being a memorable fifteen minute rant in a Pleasantville mall Carl's Jr., my family the audience (sorry, guys). But even before then, I had seen the first trailer for 8 Mile. And much to my annoyance, I really, really liked it. It was well-edited and the music worked really well and I was interested - despite my better judgement and the rantings of my roommate, who says she doesn't care and likes his music, but would spit on the sidewalk if he passed her on the street.

Fast forward to now, when the MTV Music Video awards are old news and the new Eminem song "Lose Yourself" has me shakin' my booty during every commute. It's not that it's a better song than his past work - though I think it is - but it's a song that seems to actually be about something personal and meaningful. There are viseral details. There's passion. And nothing is forced to rhyme with FCC.

And at first, I'll admit I was ashamed of myself, even though this is the most trivial, silly thing to feel ashamed of. This guy I know gave me a hard time, said I was "such the Eminem fan" - and maybe I've come to appreciate an artist who, occasionally, uses music to express himself. I've been missing that in a lot of pop music (perhaps even all pop music) recently, and have even found it lacking in the indie scene at times.

Eminem is still an asshole. I'm still a Mobyhead. But I'm trying, these days, to be both more honest and more open - to admit when I like something, and be open-minded enough to like something I might not necessarily enjoy. Because principles are all very good, but this is my time, and my life, and I can like what I want, or dislike it. As long as he's doing interesting things (and not entirely pissing me off) I'll enjoy his music.

So, really, this is an apologist rant about why I like the new Eminem song, even though there's no one really to apologize to. But I'm sick of people who hate personalities and paint the person's material with the same brush, and I refuse to do that. Sure, an artist's work is a reflection of the artist. But it's a big world. There's room for assholes in it - especially assholes with something interesting to say.

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