Back Off and Take a Good Look in the Mirror
“I come to praise Eminem, not bury him”
"Slim Shady" Lee Beowülf
If there’s one thing I think I can pride myself on, it’s being consistent. And if there’s one thing I expect of music critics, it’s consistency, as well. Now you listen up, you “alternative” music people, you “music journalists,” you who have your hands on the collective pulse of pop culture, you paragons of artistic freedom, you cultural “freedom fighters.” You hypocrites!
LAY THE HELL OFF EMINEM!
That’s right: back off, you bunch of liars! What the hell is going on when what appears to be the whole of pop music criticism, spanning several generations, gangs up on one artist and condemns his work? I’ll tell you what: a conspiracy, a witch-hunt, or a betrayal. Were it a conspiracy against Eminem, it would be obvious, and the man’s album wouldn’t be stocked, nor would it sell. Were it a witch hunt, the man would be in jail; besides, it’s Puffy’s turn at the stake. This is a betrayal. It’s a betrayal against everything “we” stand for. “We” includes every single person who ever liked a rock and roll record since before Elvis. And “we” have no right to point the finger at Eminem for what he’s doing and for how well it sells.
Bob Herbert, a week before the Grammys, wrote a scathing, I mean, excoriating Op-Ed piece in The New York Times singling-out Eminem as some sort of extreme evil that’s responsible for trashing everything decent in America, nay, the planet. (You may be able to find the essay on The Times’ Web site, but it’ll cost ya since it’s more than two days old.) Bob Herbert, who until recently, was perhaps the most righteous of Bill Clinton’s defenders. Were one to research “bleeding-heart liberal” in the dictionary, it would point to Bob Herbert’s photo in the “extreme” cross-reference. Bob Herbert is black. Bob Herbert has a lot of nerve.
You want to know what I love about the Web? It’s the “forums.” Well, The New York Times has a lot of forums, several of them devoted to their Op-Ed section, including one reserved for Bob Herbert. I responded to his essay and did my level best to tear him a new one over this. I, of course, was attacked by the forum denizens, usually wrong-headed “liberals” who think they know everything, and for example, since I was supportive of Eminem and rap music (Bob Herbert thinks it’s “bad”), I became a target for some pretty mean-spirited attacks. I wasn’t surprised at all, though; people who were twenty in 1970 are now 51, those who were twenty in 1980 are 41, and if you were twenty in 1990, you’re 31.
I’m not changing the subject one bit!
First there were the morons who think rap is “garbage.” Well, of course it is, compared to the “pure” rock and roll of The Rolling Stones. That’s the 51-year-old trying to tell me what time is was. OK, mister ex-hippie-who-is-now-bald-and-has-near-college-age-kids: why don’t you tell me about the purity of such Stones’ songs as •Midnight Rambler,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Dead Flowers,” “When the Whip Comes Down,” and “Under My Thumb”? I reminded him further that these songs glorified (oh yes, they do!) serial rape and murder, pedophilia, shooting smack, rough-trade homosexuality, and male chauvinism, respectively. Check out their lyrics some day!
But the man should have known better: The Rolling Stones, other than being the greatest thieves in the history of rock and roll, were forced to change their lyrics in order to perform on television! The Stones used to be the KINGS of indecency and represented everything YOUR parents found reprehensible! You’re telling me The Rolling Stones, arguably the most infamous rock and roll band in the world, is the indicator on the public decency meter?
I won that one…
I dig The Rolling Stones, always have – but we have to be honest. Lucky no one brought up The Beatles or The Grateful Dead…
I think the 31-year-olds who responded were the folks defending rap as a whole and brought up many of the groups and rappers who were pushing many more envelopes than Eminem. Which as totally cool with me, and frankly, is the right way to be an honest music critic. There’s worlds and worlds of “legitimate” music out there that don’t even get the time of day, especially in rap. Wait, no, that’s not true: rap and hip-hop have owned the charts for the last five years. How so? Well, everyone’s doing it, that’s why… Anyway.
It’s the 41-year-olds that bug me the most. See, this is my age group (though they have me by three years) and thus they’re the people I grew up with, experienced music with, and generally, that’s how old all my friends are in the music biz. Imagine my surprise (not really, I ain’t naive…) when I hear out of their mouths the likes of “…Eminem sucks…” No, that pop shit you listen to sucks; these washed-up has-been ex-frontmen from boring 1990’s •alternative” bands who’re trying it on their own by playing “pop” suck. They suck, Suck, SUCK!!! You hear me??? THEY FUCKIN’ SUCK!!! No names, please, but they all sound like bad Don Dixon cover bands. And besides, where the hell do you get off saying any band sucks?
Hey! We’re back on subject!
You might not like what Eminem’s doing, you might not care for rap in general, you might not like a lot of things, but if you are a music critic who was part of the “scene” for the last twenty, neigh, thirty years, you keep your bastard mouth shut, because… Now the crux of Bob Herbert’s anger was Eminem’s Grammy nomination for Album of the Year – or whatever the awards were. Imagine, such a prestigious body even considering any kind of award for Eminem’s “homophobic,” pro-murder, pro-matricide, pro-suicide, pro-this, pro-that, pro-what-pisses-parents-off “music.” He’s shocked, shocked! SHOCKED!!!
Where the hell has Bob Herbert been? First of all the Grammys are the way the music industry congratulates its best sellers. Secondly, it does not, never has, and never will have to do with “artistic integrity” or whatever you righteous hypocrite bozos, who are absolutely ignorant, think the Grammys represent. Eminem sold a hell of a lot of records, and by gosh, that means something: a) it means a lot of people keep their jobs, b) it means a lot of people sure want to hear what Eminem’s got to say – or at least they were willing to pay to find out what all the fuss was about. Hence, because of the album’s service to the industry, by gosh, it can’t be ignored! Secondly, isn’t rock and roll supposed to be “offensive”? Isn’t it supposed to be the voice of disgruntled youth? Isn’t it supposed to make the parents mad?
And what’s with you people of my generation? Giving The Marshall Mathers LP a nod is the equivalent of giving Never Mind the Bollocks Album of the Year! And need I remind you idiots that The Sex Pistols made fun of homosexuals, sang about abortion in a negative sense (gosh! What do you think the lyrics to “Bodies” are on about?), Nazi gas chambers as objects of comedy, etc., etc. Yeah, things perhaps a bit “worse” than Eminem, yet The Sex Pistols are “gods” in our eyes!
And speaking of “gods,” just how long did it take for metal to get recognized as a musical force worthy of a Grammy, albeit one of those cheesy categories? Years and years! You’d think Black Sabbath never existed! And where the hell do you get off siding with Tipper Gore? Hunh?
Oops, off track again…
But so what?! Even the big metal bands get a lot of inspiration from rap, do they not? They sure don’t sell records going in the punk direction, now do they??? (Hey! Iron Maiden got a Grammy nomination, though, oohhh, ahhh…) Anyone who knows me knows that I really like rap • and I’m white, closer to 40 than to 30 and am a “metalhead.” But I’m just like a lot of metalheads: we like rap music! Dude, the dudes from Hemlock (an extremely extreme black metal band) listen to Snoop Doggy Dogg religiously! And there are others, I listened to the eponymous House of Pain album for days on end! And who out there will deny that I’m a fiend for The Geto Boys? Speaking of which, excuse me, but The Geto Boys make Eminem’s lyrics sound like so much coloring book text, if you know what I mean. And if you’re a fan of blood, guts, wife swapping, cheating, extreme violence, pagan sacrifice, death in childbirth – go rent an opera… But you know what? All that means is that it’s a question of taste. So I like metal and I like rap, big deal. People can be different, they don’t have to like the music I like, etc.
But if they tell me “it sucks,” then the rules have changed. Especially if you’re my age. Anyone who’s ever grooved to any form of “rock,” be it Robert Johnson to Brutal Truth, had better check out the beam in their own eyes. You either like it or you do not. Dickheads like Bob Herbert and the rest of his Liberal Nazi crew have a lot of nerve passing judgment on anyone and anything. If they’re so smart and know what’s good for us, they’d realize that the only bad press is no press. If you don’t want Eminem to sell or have an influence on the “kids,” don’t write about him! Yet look at these damn newspapers: they know what sells and business is business! And that’s what makes me more sick than anything else: these self-righteous ex-hippie motherfuckers scolding us about the “evil” profit motive along with all their stupid “free love” and •tolerance” talk! Bullshit! They want to be in charge so they can take over the world and dictate what is and isn’t art! If these bastards had their way we’d all be stuck listening to Babs Streisand’s crap twenty-four hours a day!
When these walking bowel movements are in charge of the “culture” there is no opposition whatsoever, as it’s counter revolutionary and that just can’t be. At least with the “conservatives” in power we can count on freedom in our music. If you need a memory jog, just look back at what was going on in music during the 1980s and who was in power…
So lift your middle fingers high in the air with the Real Slim Shady and tell these hypocrite assholes to FUCK THE HELL OFF!!!