:: Article

Feminempire of the Senseless

By Graham Rae.

eminem-recovery

Recovery, Eminem, 2010

“Cos some things just don’t change / it’s better when they stay the same.” – Eminem’s opening line on Recovery

Marshall Mathers is on the cover of the November 2010 Rolling Stone magazine, which has an elusive exclusive interview with him in its bland-wallow, hype-swallow, hallowed hollow pages. In it the fame-trapped, barrel-bottom-scraper, word-scrapper rapper waxes not-particularly-lyrical about his life after drugs and alcohol, the death of his friend DeShaun ‘Proof’ Holton, how much he loves football, ad infinitum, ad tedium. We are informed that his newest album Recovery (about his, well, recovery from drug addiction and a near-death experience) will probably be the bestselling album of 2010, and has spawned (so far) two numero uno not-hugely-swinging singles.

The portrait the not-hugely-critical-for-obvious-access-reasons interview-cum-article paints is a curious and not particularly fascinating one, it has to be said. Conducted in a studio full of wrestling masks, Punisher comic books, popcorn machines and the like, it gives us a glimpse of a person whose major ambition in his success-foisted cloistered life seems to be to beat the high score of the world’s top expert at the 80s videogame Donkey Kong after seeing a documentary about this (Emin)emetic pathetic topic.

The overall vibe is of a Peter Panicked-by-adulthood manchild stuck in some sort of weird words-wired-to-the-80s rapcrime timewarp which, of course, fits perfectly with the subject matter of his songs over the last thirteen years of his mainstream career: Star Wars, over-two-decades-old splatter movies (what is with his obsession with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?), comic books, rampant juvenile pathological misogyny, going on about how great and crazy he is, sex with his mother (yep), and talking about how big his dick supposedly is…and himself and himself and himself and himself. There is absolutely no engagement with the outside world or its wider issues whatsoever in his stingsingsongs. I guess you could say this mirrors the contemporary solipsism and narcissism of the spoiled brat youngsters in the richest country in the world he sings for, but, you’d be stretching it. For a 38-year-old man, you’d have to say all this is somewhat disconcerting. Or maybe not. Maybe you couldn’t give a fuck, and that’s alright too.

Let’s back up a wee bit here. Some of you may recall I did a jumpabout, wordwork about Eminem’s last album Relapse on this site a few months ago. You might wonder why I give a damn about this man and his sick muse and music. Well, it’s very simple. I have really enjoyed some Eminem songs over the years, and think he has a certain degree of wordplayboy talent, but now, after nearly a decade-and-a-half of his vitriolic spleen-venting splenetic shittings and spittings and spewings it’s easy to get a decent overview of his career, where it’s (not) going (anywhere), and to feel more and more disgusted with and tired of his should-be-retired, retarded adolescent rantings and his pathological personality in general. And also, in part, to sneer at and spit on the don’t-kill-the-goose-that-laid-the-golden-rap-crap enabling of his more far-out horseshit by his record label. I’ve been listening to the man on-and-off since The Marshall Mathers LP, and now find him far more interesting for his unbalanced lyrics and pop-cultural-emission position than his music in general. Which of course says something about me, but well, what can I say? I’m a trauma voyeur just like everybody else.

I will say this: Recovery is a far better album than Relapse. Then again, that wouldn’t be hard, and this is not saying very much anyway. There is not one single thing on this record that Mathers has not done before, and just as well, if not far better. For example: the whiskey-fifth-drinking fifth ditty ‘W.T.P’. (which stands for White Trash Party), about getting wasted in Detroit, is just a retouching-up of ‘Drug Song’ from The Marshall Mathers LP. The drink-and-drug-and-dementia ballad on that album at least had some authority and edge and weight behind it, because the man singing it was still in his twenties and was still snorting and swallowing stuff. I think listening to a man pushing 40 who doesn’t drink 40s or ingest illegal substances is pretty hilarious, and robs the songs, fine and funny as it undoubtedly is, of a lot of power. Plus the fact he lives in a mansion by himself and is singing about the streets of Detroit, probably desperate to try and have his fans believe they can still relate to him in his ivory tower, is pretty hilarious stuff too.

Much more insidious and skincrawling is the smash (s)hit song ‘Love the Way You Lie’, the album’s second number one and his duet with Rihanna. This song, about Mathers’ relationship with his oft-verbally-abused-and-physically-abused ex-wife Kim (who doesn’t get spitroasted on this album for a change) is a reworking and rewording of the disgusting and disgraceful song ‘Crazy in Love’ from his 2004 pretty-much-worthless Encore release. Both songs deal with a couple who stay together even though the man badly beats the woman, and in the ‘new’ one (in which, interestingly, Eminem recasts himself as the predator preying on a woman who doesn’t fight back – the woman in ‘Crazy in Love’ gave as good as she got) he promises to tie her to their bed and set the house on fire if she ever tries to leave him again.

Rihanna, (in)famously, was badly beaten by singer Chris Brown, and that experience colors this song and gives it a depth it doesn’t even deserve. I have to say, selling domestic abuse is pretty much as low as an ‘artist’ can get, capitalizing on misogyny and madness in the worst possible way, far beyond cynicism into shoot-this-pathetic-fuckism, and Rihanna’s advisors certainly gave her a wrong steer on this one. Casting her as somebody masochistically enjoying being beaten up after the rightful furor over her battery by Brown is bizarre and stupid and ridiculous. There is not one reason I can think of for this song to exist (though I can imagine all the excuses Mathers’ fans and record company would make for it), and fuck Mathers’ whole con-confessional literature ‘art’ and ‘esthetic’: he’s been packaging and selling his insane misogyny for so long now, saying, “It’s just my alter-ego Slim Shady,” that its abnormality, sadly, seems almost normal now.

There’s another song on the album that addresses this same topic, ‘Space Bound’. In it Mathers, whose singing in the first personofabitch (whilst sometimes referring to himself in the third, bizarrely) certainly makes it much more difficult for him to step away from accusations and innuendos (not that he cares of course) about his nature and sexuality (more on which in a minute), meets up with a woman, falls for her, then chokes (he certainly has a weird obsession with choking and ropes) her to death and shoots himself. The emotions presented are teenage, melodramatic, enraged, and deeply disturbed and disturbing. Mathers is clearly frightened and contemptuous of women, due to wrecksperiences with his ex-wife and mother (reading her book is a whole other trip), scared of getting hurt, and…what?

This topic is briefly brought up in the Rolling Stone fluffer-puff piece by Josh Eells, when he’s asked if his ‘problems’ with the women he has been close to in his life have to do with it. He just completely avoids this aspect of things, rambling on about his general ‘trust issues’ (Americans always have bloody ‘issues’ with everything and nothing) because of his fame and not knowing if he can really trust people. He keeps saying stuff like ‘I don’t know what caused me to be this way / I don’t know, I don’t know but I’ll probably be this way ’till my dyin’ day / I don’t know why I’m so, I’m so cold, mean thangs I don’t mean to say / I guess this is how you made me.’ You would think by now he would know he has, disturbingly, the most infamous Oedipus Complex in musical history, and saying ‘this is how you made me’ means he can avoid taking responsibility for his actions or anything he says because somebody else is to blame for this shit. Yeah right.

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Hilarious random tangential aside: In the interview Mathers is asked if he’s a big reader. He replies that the only book he ever read from front to back was an LL Cool J autobiography. Compare this to the picture of him on the cover-flipside of the current album where he is in his wee rapbubble surrounded by books and reading one. Then again, maybe it’s the same book and he’s a slow reader. You never know. I would never be so cynical as to say that his record company are trying to present him as some sort of rude-and-crude-yet-erudite reader gorging on a diet of the classics before he lowers himself with his sonic class-sicks. Or maybe he sees himself this way. You never know.

Anyway. The whole mass debate about Marshall Mathers’ madverse adversarial relationship to the female whole-and-hole has been well dickumented, though it’s at the bottom of his (arse)whole persona, so let’s move along, after saying one wee thing. You have to find eloquent elegant lines like “…but I’m not fuckin’-a-round / mo’fucker I’ll show you pussy footin’ / I’ll kick a bitch in the cunt, ’til it makes a queef and sounds like a fuckin’ whoopee cushion / who the fuck is you pushin’, you must have mistook me for some / sissy soft punk lookin’ for some nookie or bosom/go ahead fuckin’ hater, push me told you ain’t no fuckin’ way to shush me / call me a faggot cause I hate a pussy” mighty suspect when this (s)exchange takes place in that Rolling Stone spinterview:

What about your love life? Do you date?

Not really. As far as going out, like dinner and a movie – I just can’t. Going out in public is just too crazy. I mean, I’d like to be in a relationship again someday. Who doesn’t? It’s just hard to meet new people, in my position.

You mean being famous?

No, I mean being gay. (laughs) Kidding.

This is the only question in the whole piece where he pretends that the answer is a joke. Earlier on in that same interview, the male interviewer asks him to do him a rap. Eminem writes something that took him ‘two minutes’ (i.e. pure Rorschach freestyle) which includes lines like, “This dude doin’ this interview wants me to spin a few / Lyrics while I tie my fuckin’ tennis shoes in the nude / A romantic interlude in a livin’ room / In an inner tube with a dude with a bit of lube / Fuck that, I’m sniffin’ glue, sippin’ gin and juice (…) Now hurry up and finish, dude, before I finish you.” Eminem’s going right from the guy doing the interview into being in a position naked and bending over, then having homosex, then backing away from it and getting wasted out of his face and denying any homosexual culpability and capability.

Gee, I wonder where we heard that before? Wonder if wee Josh attractive. Am I serious? Who knows, or even cares. But what can you say about a man of nearly 40 who’s proudly writing nauseating and pathetic lines about assaulting women and denying any homosexual, er, bent in his word-and-worldview? Uses lines like, ‘I came out of some difficult things these past couple of years’ when talking about dating women in the interview. Coming (out) after that song about being sexually abused on the last album, well, you know… Nah, let me retract any accusations or allegations or insunnuendos (as Ben Kingsley superbly put it in Sexy Beast) of homosexuality: gay guys are sensitive. Another theory shot through the ass and buried in a shallow extrapolative grave.

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The wince-worthy line about kicking a woman in the genitalia brings me onto another general tailoring problem with the words on this album, aside from a few low blows at Michael J. Fox (an 80s idol of Mathers’ who obviously disappointed him, like Chris Superman Reeve): really, really poor puns. They litter track after track. You get the one above? ‘Pussy-footin” Hilarious, eh? Here’s a few more of the awful pun crocks on Recovery presented for your entertainment and braindeadification:

“I want my duck-sicked mommy”

“y’all are sittin’ ducks, I’m the only goose standin'”

“Marshall is not an egomaniac, that’s not his motto” (okay, not a pun, but funny nonetheless)

“fuck a steak slut, I’ll cut my toes off and step on the receipt ‘fore I foot the bill”

“I gave Bruce Wayne a Valium and said settle your fuckin’ ass down, I’m ready for combat, man / get it? Calm Bat Man?” (you know it’s a goodie when you have to proudly explain it)

“Girl shake that ass like a donkey with Parkinson’s / make like Michael J Fox is in your drawers”

“bitch need I remind you? That I don’t need the fuckin’ Swine Flu, to be a sick pig?” (the song ‘Won’t Back Down’, his crap duet with Pink, is a treasure trove of this trash)

“you the baddest little ‘chain’ with the blades I ever ‘saw'”

“OK quit playin’ with the scissors and shit and cut the crap”

“but you lied again, now you get to watch her leave out the window / guess that’s why they call it window pane” (from ‘Love the Way You Lie’, one of the worst and least appropriate puns in lyrical history)

“cause the way I feel, I’m strong enough to go to the club / or the corner pub / and lift the whole liquor counter up / cause I’m raising the bar” (from his cheesy let’s-all-hold-hands-together-through-the-lifestorm-and-get-through-it-with-me-as-guide anti-epic ‘Not Afraid’)

Anyway, you get the idea.

So what we ultimately have here is a man who couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag (I cynically wonder if he still does all his own writing, to be perfectly honest, but it’s his name on it so he gets the blame-and-shame here) anymore, payback or comeback or whatever, nearing his 40s and still having to spew a slew of juvenile asinine nihilistic Calvinistic misogyny and horror film, sick toxic schlock and comic book faux bravado ‘for the sport alone’ to keep up with his adoring uncomprehending young fans, who exhibits practically no growth as an artist (leave the man aside for a moment) in over a decade. I still genuinely think he suffered brain damage (even sings about it on one song entitled, oddly enough, ‘Brain Damage’) and that’s the cause of some of his fucked-uppery.

That, plus the fact he’s a creepy, misogynistic, mollycoddled, self-addled wee prick who really should have the living shit kicked out of him for his hooray-for-domestic-abuse payday-paens. I mean, we’re meant to learn something, anything about domestic violence from this knuckledragger wannabe-pimp limp chimp gimp who goes on about how he’ll beat up women and writes lines like “slut this, slut that / learn the words to the song / Oh, bitches don’t like that homie, I’ll be nicer to women / when Aquaman drowns and the Human Torch starts swimmin'”? In your own life, when you know somebody who beats their woman, what do you say? That’s right, they need a good slap themselves. And the difference, apart from millions of dollars, is…? What the fact that ‘Love the Way You Lie’ went to number one tells me about contemporary-tempo braindead American main-piss-stream ‘culture’ (and there is more culture on a sleazy barroom wall than in America’s mainscreamstream) is something I hardly even want to think about. Domestic abuse is a big hit with the braindead kiddies these dazed days. Joy.

A random reality-injection interjection: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:

* Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.

* 84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.

* Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers

* 50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.

Matthew R. Durose et al., U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 207846, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Family Violence Statistics: Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances, at 31-32 (2005)

Not much fun, is it?

So where for Moreshell Mothers from here? Well, absolutely nowhere fast; he reached that pointless-of-no-return quite some time ago. Sure he can squeeze another album or two out of whimpering and whining and whinging about his problems (he hates and insults everybody and everything but we’re supposed to give a fuck about his woes and worries) and dead pal Proof (wonder if Tarantino named Death Proof after him) and how (yawn) angry and (yawn 2: the sequel) crazy he still is and how crappy it is to be famous (nothing more boring and self-pitying and wankerish) and how much he fears and loathes and violently violates women. When you reach a place in your artistic existence where you’re treading water like this album, you could definitely go on indefinitely. But for Mereshell Brute Mutters, sonic-crimetime is running out. There truly is nothing more pathetic than a man of his ever-advancing age at this stage of the fame-game trying to be like he was ten years ago because the fans will stop buying his stuff if he starts singing about other, more adult concerns. But that’ll actually be fun. The older he gets, the (un)funnier it will become. If sickman-fraud schadenfreude is your thing, the next decade or two in his carefree career will be a bloodletting feast indeed, almost a karmic payback for his unrelenting untutored hatred. Seeing him at 60 doing some of his songs will be pure comedy heaven and hell, and I for one can’t wait. Bring it on.

Quite apart from anything else, do you know how fucking easy this crappy rap-slap claptrap is to write? Anybody can do this. Here’s something I wrote about Feminem in literally 15 minutes straight through, very few revisions, no other versions of vision, just for a laugh, bitchslapping the rapping bitch for his bitchslapping:

Even on my most moist-blood-coughingest, word-coffinest, fuck-offinest brainstormingest dazed day, I could still tell and show a no-low-blow floodflow to slow his no-go-flow, teach him a lesson lest on and on he should go, feed him a syllabic-and-syntactic sin-tactic sandwich, a slanguage, slang to gauge on a page putting a cage round his stagemanaged damaged dumbage rage a man his age at this stage of his wall-careening career should have managed to control by remote disengagement from ambling and rambling and scrambling along crumbling utter-gutter-mutterfucker kill-logic illogical pathological paths to misogynist excess success, wordplaying tic-tac-toe with a hick-like-so, on ye go, do-si-do, flow-see-blow, yo-ho-ho oh no we don’t ho-go there with a bottle of rum battling scum, jagoff jackoff jerkoff ready to come to showblows, flowblows, down-you-mowblows, trapped dejected in the Marshall-reflected funhouse hall of mirrors, Marsh-all or nothing matters nothing-Mathers nothing-blathers, like Muhammad Ali said I am the greatest the disintegratingest dissing the gratingest half in jest half ingest the best beast upbeat beatup beatdowns around and about to stop to give the slow time to get to go to curtain call before the flowcrime showtime notime but the present…

See? A trained chimp could do it. If doesn’t-matter-anymore-Mathers cares to tell me any different, well, here I am.

Just before you go. Looking back, I realise I almost forgot to say if I liked anything about the album. Ummm…I really liked the velocity of m’lady’s rapping on ‘No Love’ (even as I hated the Lil Wayne cameo, finding him laughable and pathetic), and I liked the David Carradine joke in the fine self-regarding song ‘Almost Famous’. Reminded me of when Mathers had a sense of humor (as opposed to mocking poor people like Michael J. Fox or Chris Reeve for low laughs – then again, the low man on the totem pole always attacks the weak who can’t fight back) and didn’t take himself too seriously on his records. Remember those days? Getting further and further away now…and further…and further…by the minute…

Postscript: I just learned today that Eminem has gotten 10 Grammy nominations for this album, including Best Song and Best Record for ‘Love The Way You Lie’. Looks like this country’s in worse fucking shape culturally and mentally than I thought.

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ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Graham Rae says: Shove yer rap-crapitalizing misogyny, Marshall, both you and your record company.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, December 3rd, 2010.