Jewish World Review Nov. 18, 2002 / 13 Kislev, 5763
In 2002, Marshall Mathers II, aka Eminem, has become the country's hottest recording star rapping about rape, drugs and his mother, whom he apparently hates. She has sued him for $10 million. He called her a "slut" in one of his songs.
In both cases, polite society cringed. The Mississippi-born Elvis was blatantly sexy and a danger to so-called "nice girls." The Michigan-born Eminem's lyrics are so corrosive and coarse that many stores refuse to sell his CDs to minors. Yet, it is young Americans who flock to Eminem, 70 percent of those who paid to see his new movie are under the age of 25.
Elvis, of course, had a profound effect on young Americans. Millions of young boys slicked back their hair and adopted some Elvis moves on the dance floor. I was one of those boys.
Eminem has left his calling card as well. Two New York City grammar school teachers told me that it is not uncommon for 10-year-old boys to call the little girls in their classes "bitches" and "ho's" (whores). Movie theatre chains report that tens of thousands of teens and preteens have been turned away from Eminem's R-rated flick.
The Vivendi Corporation of France is the force behind Mr. Mathers, gleefully counting the money as their boy rolls out songs about sexually transmitted diseases and beating up women and homosexuals. The mouthpieces for Vivendi and its American subsidiary, Universal, say that their "artist" is either producing satire or "giving voice to the disenfranchised," whichever rationalization pops into their minds first.
Elvis was controlled by a fat Dutchman by the name of Colonel Tom Parker. He stole Elvis blind by taking half of his income and selling him out to a cynical Hollywood for cinema classics like "Clambake." Presley allowed it all to happen but was really only guilty of being incredibly dumb. Eminem has a lot more to answer for.
Any way you slice it, Marshall Mathers sells degenerate behavior to kids. The entertainment industry, long devoid of any social conscience whatsoever, provides Mathers with cover and calls him a creative genius and a sensitive soul. Students of history will remember they called Caligula that once as well.
The problem I have is that the regular folks, people with kids, have not risen up and scorned Eminem and his enablers. I mean, Ed Sullivan almost broke a blood vessel when Elvis swiveled his hips on Sullivan's Sunday night TV program. Now, Marshall Mathers can threaten to kill his mother and we Americans just shrug. What has happened to us?
The answer is that we have become shell-shocked. We have seen too much over the past 40 years, and we have run out of outrage. The baby boom generation embraced Elvis but then went progressively off the deep end. Drugs became chic, rebellion against authority a fad, greed became good and self-indulgence ruled. And now we're surprised our lax social attitudes have produced an army of degenerates like Eminem?
This is evolution, people. This is what happens when all standards die and money rules. Why are we surprised when 10-year-old Timmy calls his baby sister Sally a b-tch? Timmy hears that word and worse all the time . He sees his idol Eminem being praised by adults on TV. Timmy knows what the f-word is, he knows what pot is, and he knows that he can say anything he wants if it rhymes. Heck, he might get paid for threatening to beat a pregnant woman like Marshall Mathers does in his music.
If you think this Eminem person is harmless, you are astonishingly wrong. Like Elvis, he will leave his mark on America. But unlike Elvis, the legacy Mathers will leave is one that will injure many children, especially those without much parental guidance.
Elvis just wanted to be our Teddy Bear. Mathers wants your kids to hate you.
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