Envision the television show: Speed Date; however in this weeks episode, there will only be three participants: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Eminem. Imagine the Find your Friend special where Eminem will sit down with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. and then choose ‘his new best friend’.
Throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Marshall Mathers developed into an icon within the hip-hop community. His obscene lyrics, offend women activists, the gay and lesbian community, and viciously lashed out against the American government. Eminem’s music expresses ideas of violent rebellion and calls Americans to join in the fight for true freedom.
In Eminem’s conversation with Martin Luther King, Mr. King cries out “Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city…Its record of brutality is widely known…There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches.” (King, 2). Mr. King continues on to say, “we…engage in nonviolent direction action” (King, 6.). At this point Eminem has lost all focus on Martin Luther King and proclaims, “We gonna fight, we gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march” (MOSH by Eminem). Then storms away.
Eminem continually perpetuates ideas of violence in his lyrics and his demeanor. In a song entitled Kill You Marshell Mathers states that he “invented violence”. Mr. King’s non-violent action is carefully orchestrated and civil compared to Eminem’s impulsive and violent methods. It is unlikely that Eminem will select Martin Luther King because of their opposite philosophies’ on effective revolution.
Next up is Malcolm X. Eminem situates himself and immediately starts with a line from his song We As Americans, “I’d rather see the president dead, its never been said, but I set precedents”. Malcolm X responds with a gleaming smile, “I believe in action on all fronts by whatever means necessary.” (Malcolm, 1.) Eminem and Malcolm begin to vent their feelings of oppression to each other. Malcolm expresses that “I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American…I’m speaking as a victim of this American system”. (Malcolm, 3.) It is clear that Malcolm’s extremist attitude is fueled by his resentment at the discriminatory American legislation. In a final attempt to seduce Eminem, Malcolm says that, “If we don’t do something real soon, I think you’ll have to agree that we’re going to be forced either to use the ballot or the bullet.” (Malcolm, 2.). Nodding, Eminem turns to the show’s host with his thumbs up. Eminem has chosen Malcolm.
Eminem, an advocate of violence, agrees with Malcolm’s ‘at all costs’ attitude, and therefore chooses him as his new best friend. Mr. Mathers would consider Mr. King’s “four basic steps” in a “nonviolent campaign” (King, 2) ineffective.
Today’s episode leaves me questioning whose methods are truly most effective?