(TW: violence, rape, murder)
So. As many of you may know, I Do Not Like being offended.
I don’t. And I try hard not to be.
Imagine: you’re at the bar for karaoke one Friday night with your friends. Everyone is drinking, laughing, teasing each other. You’re all singing loudly along with choruses or joining in on the harmony (or, shit, joining in on the whole song if the singer needs a little, um, backup.) And a song comes up. And it’s bad. Offensive bad. Do you a) recognize the offensive and problematic parts, and thus feel offended, or b) look, desperately look, for an excuse to give it a pass, to let it go, so you can move on with your life and enjoy the night out with your friends?
For me? Option B. Option B all the way. No, it ain’t brave, but fuck it. I left my activist hat at home; I’m out having fun right now. I’ll care later.
And so I can enjoy songs like, say, Sublime’s “Santeria,” which is pretty explicitly about wishing to a) murder the man who “stole” “your” girlfriend, and then b) beat up said ex-girlfriend. But it’s playful and peppy and you can sing along to it, and I love all the rest of Sublime’s songs, and goddammit, that’s good enough for me – that’s excuse enough to not let this song ruin my evening.
And then two gentlemen, both fairly skilled in their art (more’s the pity) stepped up to perform the song “Guilty Conscience” by Eminem and Dr. Dre.
If you are unfamiliar with the song, GOOD. Do not click the link. Do not Google it. It is the FATAL of songs. It is a song with its own trigger warning.
I think – I think – it is the only song our edgy, goofy dj ever cut short for its sheer nastiness. I could be wrong. I was actively trying to ignore the song by that point. But I think he did.
In short, it is a song about the “good” and “bad” sides of someone’s psyche, trying to sway him as he contemplates various crimes. The crimes go from robbery (with perhaps some assault/murder on the side), to rape (the girl in question being both underage AND roofied), to straight-up rage-fueled murder of a cheating wife (and, presumably, her lover.)
And first of all, the “good” side… ain’t that good, focusing on things like “I’ll get caught!” rather than the moral implications of the crime itself. In the last scenario, the defense it musters is “Well, maybe there’s another explanation” – the implication being, of course, that if there ISN’T – if the wife is, in fact, cheating – then killing her is totes justified.
And the bad side… look, honestly, I’m not even going to parse the song and try to determine whether/if the bad side “wins” in various scenarios. Having the most violent, predatory, not-giving-a-shit-about-anyone-else thoughts in someone’s head given a voice and even marginal respect… that is not a good thing. I don’t actually think it’s a good thing, to listen to someone carefully lay out all the points to argue why you should, in fact, rape that drugged 15-year-old. I don’t think any good can come of that.
…Was it satire? Am I taking it too seriously? I don’t know. I don’t care. I do know that there are enough people even today who hate women, who think it’s ok to hurt us, rape us, kill us, that statistically at least some of them heard that song and thought to themselves, “Hell yeah, man, Eminem, he understands. Sometimes you just gotta give those bitches what they deserve.” I don’t know Eminem; I’ve never met him. It’s entirely possible that he believes the exact opposite of what his persona argues for in this song. But the song and the persona exist, and by doing so they are validating the worst, least-defensible impulses of humanity. They are supporting those who absolutely should not be supported.
And it’s gross.