I've been giving myself whiplash with the music I've been interested in lately. I've been on quite the Snow Patrol kick for a while, laid back emo rockers from Ireland, right up my alley. Their song Chasing Cars is the only top 40 hit they've had in the States, but several other songs are even better, like this one:
But the song that caused the whiplash is the new Eminem featuring Rihanna, "I Love the Way You Lie."
People, this song is amazing. Now generally I like Eminem, but I don't seek out his music, I'm not really a rap fan. But I've always been amazed by his talent, and his emotional vomiting of wordplay into something coherent enough to understand how damaged the man is. Most actors and musicians make a huge effort to hide just how broken they are underneath, this guy lays himself out like a butterflied steak and says, this is my reality.
Now, this may take me into another entire conversation about why I don't watch reality TV, because it hurts too much to see people embarrassed, emotionally laid out and humiliated. But I'm going to hold off on that, because I want to focus on this song.
Because I can't get it out of my head since I heard it. It's amazing and heartbreaking all at once. It's an ode to Eminem's relationship with his ex-wife, a relationship of domestic abuse, substance abuse, two people who were so screwed up all they could do was explode. It is not a glorification of domestic abuse. It is fitting that he chose Rihanna to sing the chorus, given her own experiences.
Here's my take: For a musician to write a song about domestic abuse, like this one, you have to have lived it. And when you've lived it, you have every right to bring it forward to the limelight. Nobody said anything about how the movie Precious, based on the book Push by Sapphire was a gratuitous look at abuse and domestic violence, all the reviews I saw said it was an amazing view into the soul of someone who'd lived it.
So why is there even a conversation about how this song glorifies the violence? There is no glory in violence, people, for anyone involved. Is it because Eminem is the male part of the equation? Is it because he's the one who hit his wife in a drunken stupor? And because with this song, with his new sobriety, he acknowledges his responsibility for those things, and so it's being presented from the other side?
I'm not defending the actions of his previous life. I'm not saying the man is a saint, he's not anything close. I fail to understand how anyone can listen to this song, or watch the video, and come away from it thinking that a relationship like that could possibly be a good thing. I'm saying it takes two people to make a relationship work, and it takes two people to make it not work, it isn't always a one-sided thing. In this song he's saying one of them should have left earlier, but they couldn't, wouldn't, didn't.
I have never been in an abusive relationship. Well, that's not entirely true. For a very short time, I dated a guy in high school who had some temper issues. He never hit me. He tried to once, and I bolted pretty quickly. I remember thinking, in my 17 year old stupid brain, that maybe I could fix him, maybe he just needed someone dependable in his life and then he could turn out to be a normal person in society. Not true. And in the not too far deep down part of my psyche I knew that, and I am thankful that I had the confidence to walk away shortly after he took a swing at me, despite losing some other friendships in the process who didn't believe me. ( in full disclosure he may have missed on purpose, I think he caught himself and tried to make a joke of it, like a To The Moon Alice joke, but it was enough for me. Technically he was the one who broke up first, in an astonishing power play, announcing to all his friends that I was psycho and no good for him and making himself out to be the victim. It was awesome. Not.)
I think this song is brilliant. I think maybe it will help people understand more about domestic violence. I hope maybe it will help someone realize they are in a relationship they need to get out of, today, right now, this minute.
I can't embed the link to the video, you'll have to go to Entertainment Weekly's music site to watch it."I Love the Way You Lie"