I’m in the mood to stir up a big fat, bubbling cauldron of fire and brimstone—anyone game? I thought I might attract a taker or two. Well, let me say first off—before anyone gets too distracted by the celebrity content of this article to see what I’m actually talking about—This is not another article about Eminem. I mean that if Christians are to be taken seriously in our present culture, we are going to have to train ourselves to look a little deeper than whatever “controversy” surrounds a particular artist.
For many Christians, music is obviously often a contentious issue. This goes all the way back to our Puritan roots here in the West—roots that said anything that is a good time is most likely the product of our arch nemesis, a.k.a. Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, etc.
To the chagrin of many and to the pleasure of many more, it can be argued that the most recognizable voice in the world of entertainment today is that of Marshall Mathers, a.k.a. Eminem. It’s no coincidence that this voice is also one of the most controversial as well.
The popular cry among proponents of censorship is, “Shut this guy up; he’s a bad influence.” Some have even gone so far as to accuse him of encouraging murder and rape, saying he is indirectly responsible and should be charged and thrown in jail for it.
The fact is, Eminem does rap about society’s worst kept secrets, such as rape, drug abuse and a lot of other darkness to boot, but what too many are missing is the context within which he is rapping. All of those who are determined to bust him as a glorifier of the horrendous topics he tends to rap about need to step back a second and look beneath the surface. Upon a closer examination, it comes to light that the majority of these lyrics are more alarm bells then party bells.
In his lyrics, Eminem throws the society and culture that we have built and live in back in everyone’s face, raw and uncut, apologizing for nothing. And why should he? After all, he didn’t make things the way they are; he just tells it like he sees it. He says, in effect, “You think you’re so well off and modern and civilized—but you’re not even close. This is how messed up society actually is, and you all know it, but I’m the only one who is willing to face up to it. Where are your priorities really at?”
Eminem’s alter ego, Slim Shady, is actually a satirical embodiment of Eminem’s message; Slim is a product of his environment, an environment created by what Eminem sees as an apathetic, hypocritical and uncaring elder generation. Many of Eminem’s songs entail that very message: If parents raised their kids properly in the first place, they wouldn’t have to worry about them being so strongly influenced by some stupid CD that they would turn into drug addicted mass murderers.
All that being said, am I saying Eminem’s music is good to listen to? Am I making a statement about the nature versus nurture debate? Am I saying this guy is some sort of hero who deserves to be idolized? Undoubtedly, some people will miss the point, as always happens, and flame me for what they perceive to be my answers to those questions, when really the only point I’m trying to make is that too often, Christians get caught speaking without thinking, and which does Christians as a whole a disservice. We cannot afford this, as we are a community whose actions and culture are under the microscope of those around us who revel in our every mistake and weakness.
Every single person on this planet is subject to the confines of their own personal matrix. Why not try to look beyond it every now and then? After all, without the very same freedom of speech that allows Eminem to spew his opinions, neither would we be able to tell the world what we believe in.
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