Saturday, October 30, 2004

Mosh or Die: Eminem drops his shady act.

Eminem drops his shady act.In 2002, when Eminem declared on The Eminem Show that he was "back/ with a plan to ambush this Bush Administration," most critics decided the rapper was suffering from delusions of grandeur. The political references on The Eminem Show were dismissed as tone-deaf ego-centricism: Who did this punk think he was? Even longtime supporters were disgusted by the comparisons the rapper drew to Islamic terrorists ("There ain't no plane I can't learn to fly"). If Em and his alternate personas Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers were undeniably brilliant—the id, ego, and superego of a 1990s tabloid culture grown fat with cash—they were just as undeniably ill-suited to the gravity of life post-9/11, where bouts of self-righteous paranoia seemed woefully out of place.

Two years later, the tables have turned. Eminem is once again back with a plan to ambush the Bush administration—in the form of "Mosh," a new video for a single to his forthcoming album Encore—and this time everyone is taking him seriously. (Even Moby, whom Eminem gratuitously attacked on The Eminem Show, has posted a link on his Web site, enjoining fans to watch the video.) And they should: The video is a brilliant piece of agitprop. Of course, it's also slyly designed to needle the very liberals who love it so much.

Eminem has long been one of the best musical storytellers around, with a knack for turning his own life into the stuff of enduring caricature. "Mosh"—which is, in fact, animated—puts this talent to good use, capitalizing in part on the fact that reality seems like caricature to so many anti-Bush folks these days. "Mosh" is a pointed assault of the Bush administration and its disastrous handling of the Iraq war;

By Meghan O'Rourke


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