Ya boy Marshall Mathers has come out swinging against President Trump this week, and it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate person to articulate America’s rejection of his behaviour. If you remove the fact that Eminem is a wealthy and famous entertainer, he’s the epitome of Donald’s target audience—poor working class white guys. Add to that the fact that Slim Shady grew up in Detroit—the once prosperous car manufacturing capital which the ‘Make America Great Again’ hype train was aiming to reinvigorate by somehow magically making it economically viable to manufacture motor vehicles in America in 2017—he’s the veritable poster child for the ideal Trump voter.
Eminem is a rapper who mastered a black artform through dedication and hard work, but at the same time had the benefit of white privilege which allowed him to get away with the kind of fuckery which would have had his black peers shunned by the music industry. This isn’t his fault directly, but is an inescapable reality of modern American life. As the white boy who mastered rap, Em appealed to the white audience who grew up on NWA but yearned for someone more…”relatable.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s basic human nature, but it’s also part of the white privilege experience where doors are open to you by default.
Much of Eminem’s BET performance this week focused on Trump’s blatant disrespect of former 49ers QB Colin Kaerpernick (an ironic stance on behalf of the White House considering that even the most basic Game of Thrones fan can attest to the importance of bending the knee) and as the world’s most beloved white rap star perhaps he was the only one who could get away with such public slander against the POTUS. It could be argued that it’s wrong that it takes a white dude to speak up against this kind of fuckery, but the unfortunate reality of America is that it often they will only listen to a privileged white guy to raise issues that affect the people that Trump so despises. While this evokes the unfortunate troupe of the Great White Hope, it’s somewhat counteracted by the fact that Eminem’s reaction to Trump’s behaviour and policies is that as the representative of the very demographic that got him elected, Mathers has explicitly stated that he doesn’t endorse this fuckery on any level whatsoever.
Slim Shady criticising the Prez doesn’t make him a hero. Anybody with half a brain cell and a public platform has cause to state the obvious. But the fact that a hero to white trash is asking that same white trash to reject the guy they elected? That’s interesting. The very same white privilege that help Eminem become one of the most successful rappers of all time has also given him the platform to shit on the first Reality TV Era elected official, which is a delicious irony. Where Kanye West was dismissed as a “loose cannon” for dating to suggest that G.W. Bush didn’t care about black people, it’s going to be a lot tougher for Fox News to discredit the Rap Game Larry Bird.
Of course, this could all be a cheap publicity stunt aimed at promoting a new Eminem album, and his influence on poor white kids must surely have greatly diminished since his glory days. Perhaps all that will stem from this is some Twitter snark from the Donald talking about Mr. Mather’s former pill problem, or maybe staunch republican Kid Rock will rally to support his Commander-In-Chief and record a “scathing” rock rap attack on Marshall.
Full marks to Em for at least doing something. I’ve never been particularly taken by his music, beyond the obvious technical prowess. He’s certainly angry and passionate, but I always felt like it was lacking a certain conviction and heart beyond that. I commend the dude for at least making the effort to express how he feels in a public forum, and based on him being the prime candidate for a Trump supporter due to his background, he’s certainly struck a nerve. But there’s also no denying that he has nothing to lose, as it’s highly unlikely that this incident will impact Eminem’s earning capacity. If “Nipplegate” taught us anything, the white guy will always get off scot-free, which makes him a fitting adversary for the former host of The Apprentice, who’s never been held accountable for any of of his actions throughout his entire life. Behold the ultimate in white-on-white crime, sports fans. And yet, it was all good only thirteen years ago…