Helping Eminem sell records

By Eric Boehlert


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Salon Staff
September 19, 2000 11:35PM (UTC)

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Here's a snippet of the lyrics from a track off the most recent album of a hugely popular, multiplatinum-selling musical artist. You may be surprised when you learn who sang it: Earl had to die/Goodbye Earl/We need a break/Let's go out to the lake Earl/We'll pack a lunch/And stuff you in the trunk Earl/Well is that all right/Good let's go for a ride/Earl hey

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The group that wrote and sang this song are none other than the Dixie Chicks. Why are the mainstream media and the conservative politicians scolding Eminem while an equally popular musical act is able to get away scot-free with lyrics that run in a strikingly similar vein?

I'm not a fan of Eminem or any of the other "angry young men" of modern music (such as Limp Bizkit, DMX or Kid Rock), as many of my fellow 18-year-olds are. However, I know shameless opportunism when I see it. This practice of jumping on the demonization bandwagon every time a "shocking" new artist puts out a hit record (wasn't it Marilyn Manson last week? And Guns 'N' Roses the week before?) is done purely to leverage votes and win Nielsen ratings. The politicians and the mainstream media are guilty of a moral offense worse than any fantasy described on "The Marshall Mathers LP."

-- Andrew Levine

As a middle-aged yuppie, one of the things I vowed never to do was sound like my parents. With regard to rap music, I have failed miserably. When I was a teenager, hardly a day went by when my stepmother didn't utter the phrase, "Turn that crap down." I now use that very phrase when I hear Eminem on MTV or hear him via a Napster download my son has made.

Then it hit me: Part of the reason I listened to some tunes was just to piss off my stepmother. My 19-year-old son does the same thing, I suspect. Long hair, pot smoking and Jimi Hendrix feedback provided enough shock value 30 years ago. Eminem and rap music in general have raised the shock value bar, so to speak. Eric Boehlert is quite right: It sells records, big time.

I still wish they would turn that crap down.

-- Rich McIntosh

OK, enough is enough. I have read one too many ridiculous critiques of Eminem and his music, lifestyle, family, etc. As a college senior who is about to begin teaching high school kids, and as a 21-year-old woman, I laugh at all of you. Eminem is a lyrical genius. Whether you like what he says or not, whether you catch the irony or not, whether you feel the same about society or not, you can't deny that the man has an incredible talent.

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Other generations don't understand what we have to say. They don't understand that we are above homophobia, racism, sexism and all of the other bullshit that America accuses Eminem of. He makes jokes that are funny because that is all they are. If your children don't take those jokes that way, then you are doing something wrong! It is not up to him to be a role model. He never asked to be one. He is an artist and to his art, he is true. Can any of you say the same?

-- Valerie Crews


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