As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, Eminem raps about our President in one of his new songs:
F- money. I don’t rap for dead presidents.
I’d rather see the president dead.
I wouldn’t call Eminem’s stuff art, or at least not good art. Of course, I can’t believe hip hop and its variants have survived–indeed, become increasingly popular–for two decades. As the immortal line from “Next of Kin” had it, “Have you ever tried to hum rap?”
Still, this doesn’t rise to the level of threat. There’s clearly no imminent danger nor is Matthers inciting people to kill the president. (On a related note, I’m pretty sure that neither Bob Marley nor Eric Clapton actually shot the sheriff.)
But free speech works both ways. He’s free to cash in with lyrics like this and people are free to condemn him for these lyrics. It is, after all, not entirely implausible that some sick individual who idolizes Eminem will try to in fact kill the president as a result of listening to this. That wouldn’t make it Matther’s fault, of course, any more than Jodie Foster is to blame for John Hinckley’s attempt on President Reagan; but it is a fair subject for discourse.
These two lines have set off a firestorm in the media with conservatives calling the lyrics more “hate Bush” propaganda and the liberals supporting the song as “art.” After reading the lyrics to the song it doesn’t seem to me, at least, that Eminem is really wishing that the President were dead.
In the first line he talks about not rapping for dead presidents, obviously a reference to money and the fact that Eminem raps for the sake of rapping and not financial gain. In the second line he implies that he’d rather see the President dead then to rap for money. To me he’s saying that both events are negative. He doesn’t want to rap for money or see the President dead. His priorities may be a little off, but he’s not saying that the President’s death would be a good thing.
I’m not sure that these lyrics would even be that news-worthy if it weren’t for the anti-Bush sentiment already apparent in our entertainment industry. I personally don’t feel that these lyrics are part of that “hate Bush” mentality.