Thursday, July 08, 2004


Was the slogan smeared on the swingeing protest signs of misled citizens. Outside some sort of hop-hap or rip award ceremony. I personally have no idea where or when, I just caught a glimpse of the foredepicted scene flashed, almost subliminally, during an Eminem music video.

It made me very angry.

Not that the director had elected to include a brief clatter of protest footage, for that was indeed a most fortuitous artistic cliché.

In spite of being one of the classical techniques of visual propagandic rhetoric (that of questioning viewers' opinions and beliefs, and inciting the feeling of self-righteous rage enjoyed by the perceivedly injusticed out-group, by juxtaposing images of the misunderstood protagonists being long-sufferingly, pathetically virtuous and generally minding their own (entirely above-deck) businesses, with contrasting images of the unreasoning "angry mob" of protesters clamouring for blood, burning crosses and screeching, "WITCH! WITCH! WITCH!" The efficacy of this dramatic manipulation of the audience's opinions is often augmented by reinterpreting the mistreated party as tragic heroes; the unstoppable grind of the Wheels of "Justice", pulled by corrupt, aloof, right-wing judges and politicians, and the relentless battering of the all-but-buckled door by the frenzied company of witch-hunters, imbues in the viewer an overpowering empathy with these poor, misconstrued Heroes. Furthermore, in montages such as this, the viewer is made complicit in the instinctive fear and noble sacrifice by the artist apparently addressing his audience directly through the Fourth Wall. This is particularly powerful in televisual as opposed to theatrical presentations, because the sense of artifice is strengthened by the severe sensory limitations of the Cathode Ray Tube. For something that is considered so patently unreal and totally divorced from the viewer's influence to suddenly transcend several levels of reality and deliver its message direct is still (in spite of its visually rhetorical cliché), subconsciously at least, attention-retentive. The further advantage of thus addressing the audience is that the sense of artifice, and of lack of uniquity of circumstance, is not destroyed, due to the physical and psychological barrier of the television screen. The viewer can therefore both feel complicit in the fate of the protagonists, and yet, should the artist campaign against his audience, claiming them to be fickle trendies or glory worshippers, each individual viewer can sit back and feel that he is one of the élite few who do not fall into these sweeping categorisations), it posts an uncomfortable message regarding many people's hypocritical miscomprehension of radical art.

They fail to realise that the acts of violence, hatred and dysfunxion Mr. Shady describes in his lyrics are either (a) satirical or (b) purposefully lit by pejorative lanterns. I am no fan of "urban music", nor can I claim to be a conoisseur of this artist's work, but that Eminem which I have experienced is corrective, not promotive.

Slim Shady is subversive -- all good art should be, to whatever extent -- but culturally rather than morally. And not even particualrly culturally -- only so in the eyes of the sheltered, conservative bourgeoisie, who take offence when reminded of the alien conditions inhabited by what is underneath. Alas, cultural unfamiliarity is too often equated with moral bankruptcy, particularly by the earning classes in this nation of mine which has been pampered by the smothering pillows of economic luxury and global social isolationism (very few Americans have a passport) for so very long.

And surely the very act of vociferous protest against thoroughly legitimate art shows a hatred far beyond any that remained trapped in the merely conceptual in Mr. Shady's music?

The educated unintelligentia have judged, and in return, they have been judged themselves.


At 8:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong. Why are major record labels
awarding a man who says he wants to rape his mother? Then people say "Oh it's satire". It's shameful that 12 and 13 year old sons and daughters of men and women are forced to hear this manufactured bullshit when they go to parties and then when they question the moral character of the singer they are bombarded with idiots such as yourself. If you agree (or disagree) with this and you are a reasonable person you can contact me at


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