Friday, August 13, 2010

The Resurgence of the Wife Beater

Okay, I've been away for a little while, mostly because I am growing increasingly frustrated with the pop culture mentality of our current politics and society.  I do keep up with the news and goings on of pop culture, though, since I seem to be a glutton for punishment.

Recently, we've seen the "comeback" of Eminem with his new song "Love the Way You Lie."  With Rhianna guesting on the singing part of the song and a slickly polished video starring Dominic Monaghan and Megan Fox, it seems that the former Slim Shady is back on top of the rap and pop worlds, as I first heard this song at, of all places, a gay bar.

To be completely honest, I fairly detest Eminem.  I find him incredibly misogynistic, homophobic and dangerously violent in his lyrics.  At the gay bar, however, it was much too noisy to hear the lyrics.  I had briefly heard the beginning of a story on this new song (before I quickly changed the channel) and that it was a departure from the norm; a new, gentler Eminem, so to speak.  So, I decided to give him another fair shake, as I appreciate his talent for writing, even though I deplore the message he gives (see this post about the Tea Party I did earlier for my rationale here).

Cue my Google-fu skills:  I went to YouTube to watch the video and googled the lyrics so I could read along as the video played.  My reaction, you ask?  My first thought as I was reading the lyrics and watching the video was most likely "What the fuck?" followed by "Oh wow."

You'll remember this story:  the short of it is that Rhianna and Chris Brown were a couple and he beat the snot out of her.  She took him back and he did it again.  She dumped him.

Now Rhianna is doing the singing part of the song for Eminem.  Her lyrical part:  "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn/But that's all right because I like the way it hurts/Just gonna stand there and watch me cry/But that's all right because I love the way you lie/Love the way you lie."  Fairly innocuous, right?  That's what I thought as the song began (and this was the main clip I remembered from the bar as I really like Rhianna's voice, so it stood out for me).

So, to contrast, let's study Eminem's rap, specifically the last part of the song.  "Don't you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk/Told you this is my fault/Look me in the eyeball/Next time I'm pissed/I'll aim my fist at the drywall/Next time there will be no next time/I apologize even though I know it's lies/I'm tired of the games I just want her back/I know I'm a liar/If she ever tries to fucking leave again I'mma tie her to the bed/And set the house on fire."

Thus the "What the fuck?."  How in the world could someone who has been a victim of domestic violence agree to have anything to do with this song?  I very strongly believe in never blaming the victim or criticizing the methods with which someone deals with their trauma, but does Rhianna honestly comprehend the way this makes her look to the public, particularly women who may also be dealing with abuse?

And then let's talk about Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan.  My personal opinions aside (I pretty much think of Megan Fox as a no-talent media whore), I fail to understand why the two would sign up to be in this video, which, by the way, is chock-full of incredibly violent imagery, towards both of them in a domestic abuse scenario.  

This is the kind of thing our society has come to celebrate and it makes me sick to my stomach.  That anyone could glorify these lyrics and video by giving it airplay is morally disgusting to me.  I can deal with violence; "Cop Killer" was, in my opinion, a necessary song for it's time and opened up eyes and dialogue where the issues were pretty much being ignored.  But there's no underlying message behind this song other than "I'm justified in beating the shit out of my significant other, tying her to a bed and burning the house around her."  So much for the new Eminem.

There is absolutely nothing "romantic" about a partner doing physical violence to their significant other.  It's not love, it's not even lust.  It's power, domination and control, akin to rape.  It worries me that this is being called a "sappy love song" in some of the comments on YouTube.  If this is the new generation's idea of love, we're in trouble as a society, and I can assure you that same-sex marriage has NOTHING to do with this deterioration of the sanctity of marital relations.  Why aren't the conservatives/religious right screaming at the top of their lungs about this?  Probably for the same reason that it was once legal to beat your wife in my home town, as long as it was done on the courthouse steps on a Sunday afternoon with a switch no bigger than the husband's thumb.  Yay traditional marriage.

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