Originally Published: December 8, 2002 10 a.m.
First allow me to apologize for the disjointedness of my last column.
I often don't know exactly what words are going to come out of my mouth in a Monday paper until I read them, because my column gets edited by the Courier. I used to try to make them very short, but they would still frequently get edited down. Sometimes they catch grammatical errors and such and I'm grateful. But sometimes things get chopped out and it doesn't help. Even if I submit the column five days in advance I may not get to see the edited version.
Sometimes I submit the column a week in advance, which can make it difficult to be timely. Then I may see what is supposedly the final edit, but what shows up in the paper may be different anyway.
Okay, I'm done complaining and ranting. Well, actually, I have another bone to pick. It's with Eminem, the rapper infamous for his lyrics about casual violence against women and homosexuals.
I won't offend you by giving his lyrics here. If you're curious, have a look at the web site www.now.org/press/02-01/02-05-01.html. His apologists say he was just reflecting society.
He was appealing to foolish youth and sick types who would pay money to hear it. A conscious decision to trade what's right against what's profitable. Now he is reaping the rewards as the star of a popular movie, "8 Mile."
Don't go see it. A local theater is showing it. Reviewers are giving both the movie and Eminem decent reviews. Media are carrying the ads, reviews, and pictures, giving him lots of media space (including this paper) with only passing mention of his being "controversial." No mention that he would never have gotten the part if he weren't famous and that he's famous, in part, only because he glorified violence.
I admit there is a gray line in these matters. Established stars like Robert DeNiro and Anthony Hopkins making their umpteenth gratuitously violent movie I think are over the line, too. But I know that Eminem is way over that line.
So are we just supposed to invite this guy into our living room casually? If he succeeds as a star and his past doesn't prevent it, he will be in our homes. He will get parts in other movies that we will want to see. He'll be in videos we rent or own. He'll be in our papers and on our TVs each time he has something new to sell. He'll be in the teen magazines our daughters read, with tantalizing articles about what fashions he's wearing for his new movie, or what sensitive passions moved him while creating his latest CD. Yes, he'll be in our living rooms.
Why does he get under my skin so? Because with all the troubles in the world, people who will add to those troubles for a few bucks sicken me. Or maybe it's not even that. That's a given, that there will always be such people in the world. What gets me is how many of us, the media-consuming public, will just go along with it.
At least with other types who create troubles for their own profit, the lying CEOs of the Enrons of this world for instance, they try to pull the wool over our eyes, and we have some excuse for having inadvertently played along with them by buying their stock. But when enough people buy tickets to make someone like this a star, we have no one but ourselves to blame. Foolish youths may not know any better. Reviewers, theaters, and "home town" media should.
We can't have it both ways. We can't complain about violence in the media begetting violence, or about immorality in the media, or about how society in general needs to adhere to basic values, and then give this guy lots of positive media space and go see his movie and just turn a blind eye to how he got there. If we do that, then we have no more room to be making any of those complaints.
Do yourself and everyone else a favor. Don't go see this movie.
(Tom Cantlon's column appears every other Monday. www.tomcantlon.com)