Eminem, the rap artist who has become a multimillionaire by selling songs laced with expletives and violent lyrics, is now saying that he bans profanity at home. This is the same 38-year-old music icon who built his career on controversial videos that have been criticized for, among other things, glamorizing domestic violence. He says, basically, aw shucks, at the end of the day he is just another concerned dad doing the best he can to raise his daughters in today’s often crazy world.
The comments came in a “60 Minutes” segment that aired on CBS Oct. 10. The rapper was asked whether his “hip-hop persona actually bleeds into his own life.”
“Profanity around my house? No. I’m not saying there’s not glimpses of me in the music, that there is not truth in things that I say. But this is music. This is art,” said Eminem.
Earth to Eminem? Does he not realize that the type of “art” he produces has an extremely negative effect on something he claims to be so concerned about — good parenting? Is Eminem aware that some 75 percent of the videos on MTV contain sexual messages, or that by the time children reach the age of 13 they will have seen more than 100,000 acts of violence on TV alone? Is he aware of the special 2009 Parents Television Council report concerning the depiction of violence against women on TV? The study, “Women in Peril,” detailed how this specific type of TV violence increased 120 percent from 2004 to 2009.
“I don’t cuss,” he said. “I have daughters. I mean, how would I really sound as a person walking around my house saying ‘bi**h, pick this up.’ You know what I mean?”
Well, Mr. Marshall Mathers, how do you think you look to young people in the latest video for your hit song with Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie”? You know, the catchy little rap tune that depicts lovers in a troubled relationship where they throw each other against walls and slap each other across the face? Are you willing to tell your daughters and other young people that Rihanna herself was at the center of a domestic violence case last year?
No, as far as Eminem is concerned, he just has to tell anyone foolish enough to buy it that it’s all up to the parents. Parents have to do their jobs, he claims. He can make all the money he wants from songs that send the wrong messages, but if your children accept the messages as reality, then it’s all your fault.
“I feel like it’s your job to parent them. If you’re the parent, be a parent,” he said.
No kidding. Really? Of course, parents have to parent. Thanks for that brilliant deduction.
The Church teaches us that the primary role of catechesis is up to the parents. Secular organizations doing the majority of research on media influence have been saying for decades that parents need to closely monitor the amount of time their children spend in front of TV and computer screens.
That’s no excuse for the Eminems of the world to keep polluting the culture with entertainment that glorifies violence and sexual promiscuity. Unless children are sequestered 24/7, even the most diligent parent cannot prevent their kids from being exposed to negative messages in mass media.
That’s why it takes a combined effort. We have to do what we can at home and be willing to improve the culture. Not make excuses for it or make money off of it and then put the responsibility on everyone else’s shoulders.
Shame on Eminem for the blatant hypocrisy of his statements. And shame on him as a father and an artist for using his talents to do more to hurt the culture than improve it.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of Catholic Connection, produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 160.