A theme in FRONTLINE's "The Merchants of Cool" is how marketers of teen
culture are promoting certain artists whose music and imagery
are very disturbing in their anti-social behavior and attitudes.
Currently no music star is more denounced for this than Eminem, a white rapper
and hugely successful mainstream artist whose lyrics vulgarly denigrate women
and gays and celebrate violence.
Eminem was the big story at the February 2001 Grammy Awards.
Nominated for four Grammys, he won three. For Eminem's supporters, a
large part of his appeal lies in his sarcasm and blurring of truth and fiction;
it's difficult to discern his real intent from his jester-like, acerbic wit
and the multiple personas he adopts. On the day of the Grammy event,
music critic Jon Pareles wrote
in The New York Times: "Unlike many of his detractors, Eminem regularly makes
a distinction between words and action....Meanwhile, the music connotes comedy: bouncy
keyboard lines, whiz-crunch sound effects. Eminem leaves it to
listeners to separate his Grand Guignol humor from
his position statements, and so far, the fans may be better literary
analysts than the horrified adults...." And Michael Greene, the head of
NARAS, the organization bestowing the Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Iovine,
head of Eminem's label, Interscope Records, feel Eminem
represents today's voice of rebellion and thus is similar to gifted rebels of
But Salon's Eric Boehlert takes on the music critics who
celebrate Eminem's work,and Boehlert's critique includes several excerpts from
Eminem's lyrics which illustrate why so many condemn the artist.
If you want to explore more about the debate, here are some other articles:
An opinion from Spin Magazine on Eminem's place in today's music landscape.
A summary of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's opposition to Eminem's
nomination, including more examples of Eminem's lyrics.
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