Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Who Knew? (2000) – Eminem

Eminem’s craft lies in his lyrical vexations and mocking singsong hooks that pester until they lodge themselves in your brain (check out “Rain Man,” for instance, in which he plays the idiot savant to a tee): in other words, he’s a master of the annoyingly catchy rhyme. As good an example as any, “Who Knew” serves on a broader sociological level as a catalyst for discourse on the ultimate responsibility for teenagers’ behavior. It’s also highly entertaining, if only to hear Eminem blurt out words mocking those who are incited by his lyrics without regard for their context.

Skulking to slinky sequenced synthesizers and beats, Eminem feigns ignorance about the effect his lyrics could have on a teenager who might kill himself or strike a girl. Of course, he’s not that naïve, but he has a point: you can only blame music for so much. To the extent that teenagers act out violence upon self or others, Mr. Mathers shunts the blame to parents and to the teens themselves who idiotically take his lyrics to be literal behavioral cues.

While parents shouldn’t necessarily hand over a copy of The Marshall Mathers LP to their 10 year-old, Eminem gives us fair warning that we are better off teaching our children about the violence, profanity and misguided views (misogyny, homophobia) to which they will inevitably be exposed, so that they might develop a sense of right and wrong that will serve them well as adults. In that regard, it’ll be interesting to see how his daughter Hailie grows up. His love for her is well-documented, but one has to wonder what hearing songs your father wrote about killing your mother and dumping her in a lake (“Kim”; “’97 Bonnie and Clyde”) does to a young girl. Even Slim Shady himself admits in 2002’s “My Dad’s Gone Crazy” that he wouldn’t let her listen to his music.

  • Listen to “Who Knew?” and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
  • See also "Kim" (2000) - Eminem
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