Readers respond to Andrew Sullivan's "Idiocy of the Week: Using Eminem, Badly, for Political Gain."

By Salon Staff
Published November 20, 2002 12:13AM (UTC)
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[Read the column.]

Lyrically brilliant? Yeah, right
Andrew Sullivan states that "Eminem's music is some of the most challenging, inventive and lyrically brilliant in recent times."

I wanted to provide some examples of that lyrical brilliance. Please see below.


Women all grabbin at my shishkabob
Bought Lauryn Hill's tape
so her kids could starve
-- "Cum on Everybody"

My brain's dead weight,
I'm tryin to get my head straight
but I can't figure out
which Spice Girl I want to impregnate
-- "My Name Is"

OK. Kinda funny. But brilliant? Perhaps Sullivan can point me in the direction of Eminem enlightenment. I'd appreciate it. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Sullivan wouldn't recognize an Eminem song if Mathers himself were whispering it to him, seductively.


-- Marie Mundaca

Save this dog
It's really quite remarkable how everyone is stupid but Mr. Sullivan. There's a name for this: immaturity. Please take Mr. Sullivan's sharp pen away before he hurts the dog.

-- Oswald Neimon

The Bible Belt is alive and well
While Mr. Sullivan accuses Joe Conason of being out of touch in his column concerning Eminem, I'm afraid the reverse is true. Apparently, when you are a conservative spinmeister for too long, a certain intellectual vertigo sets in.


In his addled assessment, Sullivan writes that "the main argument on the right these days is not white supremacism."

Really? Well, allow me catch Mr. Sullivan up on current events. Down here in Georgia, we just canned a popular centrist governor because he simply reduced the size of the Confederate "Stars and Bars" on the state flag. And next door in South Carolina, another centrist governor was defeated because he removed the rebel battle flag from the roof of the capitol to a place of honor on the statehouse lawn.


In both cases, Republican candidates exploited bold-faced racism to political advantage.

White supremacy is not the argument? Opposition to affirmative action is based on color-blindness? Yes, and the Civil War was about states' rights, not slavery. And obsession with the Confederate flag is about heritage, not hatred.

Please, spare me such ham-handed arguments. Racism is alive and well, Mr. Sullivan, and Republicans are loving it. It's as simple and shameful as that.


-- Owen Page

It's OK to like Eminem ... really
No, it's OK for me to love Eminem not because Sullivan twitters over him, not because some lefty rag says so ... it's OK to like Eminem because Em really got me with "White America"... he graduated to "arteest" with that one! Em was right ... I never cared what the rappers did until they hooked my little Eric and Erica!

Joke's on us, and Em takes it to the bank!


Keep it up, Marshall. Oh, and don't read the pundits. It'll just give you a headache with all that sniping.

-- April Manns

Flashbacks of Vanilla Ice
I'm surprised that anyone needs this to be pointed out, but Eminem is to rap what Diana Kraal is to jazz, "Kid" Johnny Lang is to blues, Elvis was to rock 'n' roll, and what the white Michael Jackson is to the black one: a talented but not spectacularly so white face working in a popular black music form: in other words, a Dream Package. This synergy often reaps stratospheric success, but not invariably. Poor Vanilla Ice just couldn't get it right; I blame the management).

Re: Andrew Sullivan's line, "Eminem's music is some of the most challenging, inventive and lyrically brilliant in recent times," I'm glad I wasn't drinking a cola when I read it ... the cola would have come out through my nose. I'd cite Grant Lee Phillips, Goldfrapp, Tricky, Sparklehorse, Radiohead, Cassandra Wilson, Stereolab, Björk and about a dozen other current artists as being so far beyond Eminem's carefully engineered product both lyrically and musically (hard to consider loop-based backing tracks for comedic monologues as "music" anyway) as to make me worry about Sullivan's access to Modern Culture. Or his position to judge it.


He sure doesn't get the social realities.

-- Steven Augustine

Eminem has reached enlightenment
I agree with you, Andrew.

Eminem, and his whiteness, is a beacon reminding white collective culture that the civic Band-Aids are curling off and the wounds of the past must be attended too. Eminem is impossible for you or most whites to relate to because he is basking in enlightenment. And it is has been tearing him apart for years. Marshall Mathers once said, in response to a provocation: "I can't use the word 'nigger' in my music because black music and black culture is what I am."


His kind of honesty is beyond the comprehension of most white people anywhere. If you are curious, I would recommend a formal visit to Detroit and I could show you a subculture that cannot exist in New York, Atlanta, D.C. and certainly not in L.A. -- these cities are places where suburban and rural whites go and "gentrify" with their inherent indifference and bland culture. Imagine a truly black-controlled metropolis from its governing infrastructure to its suburban white perimeter. Imagine a modern Acropolis that will not compromise with even the most generous real estate developers -- even if that means its mightiest structures will die. And then understand this is all resistance to the white power machine that built Detroit into a major city of nearly 3 million people in the late 1940s. Black Detroiters will tell you: Regardless of the economic prosperity such concessions may bring, never again will they live by "whitey's" rules. Rather, they continue to live in chronic poverty ... with liberty.

Eminem is aware of this phenomenon, emotionally, if not intellectually. As are a lot of other rare, brilliant whites from Detroit. Be smart, Andrew. Follow Slim Shady to liberation. I guarantee: You've never been there before.

-- Benir Koranache

No Sidney Poitiers here
People who aspire to the conservative end of the socio-politico spectrum may indeed be threatened by the image of an interracial friendship depicted in "8 Mile." It's not exactly Bob Culp and Bill Cosby or Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton. Nice, safe middle-class couplings are one thing, but the thought of class bonds reaching across well constructed "barriers" like skin color probably does threaten a lot of people who find comfort in their ivory towers. There's a lot of power in such bonds.


-- Amy Tillem

Go, Joe!
Idiocy of the Week: Andrew Sullivan insinuating that Joe Conason is out of touch.

Does Sullivan actually get paid for writing?

-- Mark Pilkanis

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