Jewish World Review Feb. 26, 2001 / 3 Adar, 5761
For whatever reasons, the Grammy folks declined to honor Eminem with album of the year. But he won anyway. He won the attention sweepstakes. It was like holding a high-school graduation ceremony in which the druggie/criminal/drop-out gets to make a speech alongside the valedictorian. There was Eminem (a.k.a. Marshall Mathers), side by side with the young ladies who had forgotten to wear their dresses and the other "artists" in T-shirts and baseball caps. Mathers disdains gays and lesbians. "My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge. It'll stab you in the head whether you're a fag or lez or a homosex, hermaph or a transvest, pants or dress." And he raps about murder -- specifically about murdering his wife and raping and murdering his mother. On the track called "Kim" (the name of his real wife), he doesn't just fantasize about killing but seems to be in the act, screaming, "Bleed bitch, bleed," while choking sounds are heard.
Mathers boasts that every conservative who condemns him only increases sales of his CDs. He has already sold 10 million, mostly to teens and preteens. But that adolescent taunt is not important. What is important is the knee-jerk reaction of nearly everyone in the music industry and beyond.
We see it every time a punk decides to put his mean little thoughts to a beat and sell records. Before you can say Madonna, someone is claiming that to criticize this rot amounts to censorship. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer posed this utterly predictable question to Lynne Cheney: "Your parents may have said that, you know, Elvis Presley, by shaking himself, that that was inappropriate, or the Beatles, that that was inappropriate, that rock n' roll was destroying young people. ... What's different now?"
Cheney said the difference is violence. She might have added that many of those who were young when rock was seem to have been permanently disabled by this demographic accident. They cannot begin to make sensible judgments about anything in the realm of entertainment because they live in fear of seeming to be uncool, as the adults presumably were in Elvis' time (actually, a good case can be made that Elvis' hip swivel was unnecessary and damaging). So determined are they to be on the side of youth and "expression" that they have frustrated the rebellious urges of several generations of young people. How can you shock those who are resolute that they will tolerate anything?
Because the adults have failed to fulfill their role as guardians of culture, members of the younger set have been forced beyond all bounds of decency, searching for the sticking point. They haven't yet found it. Madonna pretended to masturbate on stage, with a crucifix no less. Marilyn Manson painted his face like a ghoul and proclaimed himself the "anti-Christ." 2 Live Crew used every four-letter word in the book over and over again, yet a jury said it wasn't obscene.
Eminem's ugliness has caused a minor flutter of distaste in the "artistic" community because gays and lesbians are among his targets. It goes without saying that if he limited his bile to Christians and Republicans, he'd be a hero of our time.
But even with the anti-homosexual theme, Eminem finds defenders in the usual places. Robert Christgau of the Village Voice told National Public Radio, "Eminem is working in an aesthetic tradition that most of the people accustomed to weighing in on the morality of culture are completely incapable of understanding."
Yes, the enlightened young artist, working on his grand opus (an obscene rant) in a garret -- misunderstood by the pathetic bourgeoisie. It's a permanent fixture of liberal thought. This is the year that Hollywood bowdlerized the Marquis de Sade, turning him into just such a misunderstood "artist."
Mrs. Cheney warned that if this sort of thing continues we might see censorship, and that
would be terrible. No it wouldn't. But it will never happen, because adults in this society
cannot make moral judgments. They're too