Yes, he bugs me too.
This rhyming pied piper parading across the mindscape of Middle America is influencing our youth; this posturing, angry little man who, under the guise of wearing his heart on his sleeve, is simply posing and pandering to our children's deepest fears. Having grown up in an era of too much TV and the ephemeral Happy Meal, along with his nose pressed up against the glass of the illusions inherent in modern life. Eminem offers no answers to the alienation or disenfranchisement he feels, or to the mysteries of human existence, only simplistic rhyming, histrionic posing and how to dye your hair blonde.
I have seen this "anti-Christ" who is over thirty, yet looks thirteen.
His name is Marshal Mathers. That's him lifting weights and grimacing in one of his videos a permanent man-child. The angry urban mighty mite making the angst of inner city youth less menacing and more palatable to the collective suburban mind set of Middle America.
Let's all applaud him.
Good, now that that's over with and so is Eminem (I mean they did a movie about his life already), we can move on. My 10-year-old son likes Eminem--that's okay. When I was 10, I had my pop icons too. We all did. And we all know that in the wake of pop idolatry the ones left to sweep up the sawdust and the glitter are the parents. I will state right here: I am well aware from Mr. M's "music" that his parents did not have the strength to pick up a shovel when the embryonic world of MTV, "Miami Vice" and "The Facts of Life" had passed through, leaving a trail of debris on young Marshal's gestalt. Contrary to Marshal's "me against the world" mantra of co-dependent parents and Paxil, strong elders do exist. I am one parent willing to do the heavy lifting when it comes to my son dealing with a world that M will be long gone from, say anywhere from six months to 16 years from now. So, here is what I can do for my son that Eminem can't.
1. Teach him compassion; have compassion for those who have gone before you. Even those who have screwed it all up. If they hadn't taken the chance to do so there would not be any mistakes to learn from. Marshall, when you clean your closet and run a tirade against your mother, realize that what she did, you didn't have to do. That you are a stronger person because of her, not in spite of her.
2. Encourage him to like himself. The first person you have to deal with is you. You and you should start getting along because you are the first and last person you will deal with in your life. M seems to bring self-hate and self-loathing to a new and scintillating level.
3. Give him confidence to excel at something. Pick something out and do it so well that it shines. M can't sing, can't dance, can't smile and can't look anyone in the eye. He is representative of an entertainment culture where futility reigns. Howard Stern couldn't be funny or sexy, and made a fortune from his own shortcomings. M couldn't really be black or hip and did the same. That may be all well and good for Hollywood, but in the 99 percent of the world in which other of Americans live in, it won't cut it.
4. Teach him to be thankful for the opposite sex. Simply put, the true enjoyment of another person is to see them as a gift; a wondrous opportunity to partake in the diversity and mystery that is our corporal and spiritual existence. Respect that gift. M seems to be so mad at all those girls throwing themselves at him. Do I detect a fear of intimacy?
5. Help him tone it down. The world doesn't really rage so out of control, humans do. M might want to be a comet streaking across the dot matrix landscape, but you don't have to, my son. Burn inside with passion and heart; let others express themselves before you do, learn to be gentle yet strong and listen to them. Shhh, hear that? That's your heart beating strong and true. No one has to give you the beat; it is already inside you.
6. Show him how to give. Enough said.
7. Son, laugh at yourself. M takes himself and his troubles far too seriously. We live in a perfect universe where only our perspective is imperfect. That perspective leads to anger, fear and doubt. They will eat you up if you do not control them.
8. Money isn't everything. M is a millionaire, he can buy enough Hot Wheels track to lay to the moon and back, he can buy people, places and things; enough vowels to make Vanna White's fingers numb. But he can't buy more time, more love or more than what I can give you: me.
9. Open your eyes, Son. The narrow focus of popular culture can be fun and distracting and comforting. We all love it and should embrace it. But it is good to let it go and take a hike, swim in a lake and get to know the grandest vista of them all: your soul.
10. I am here. Not to show you the way, not to force my opinion or problems on you. But to be in the here and now. I am not some voice on the radio or an image on the set. I am standing beside you, breathing: limited yes, by all accounts fragile and at times just as scared as you and Eminem.