Photo: Eminem, Wikimedia Commons
Eminem used the word ‘faggot’ and absolutely no one was shocked.
A couple of weeks ago Eminem dropped his surprise album, Kamikaze, featuring one of the diss tracks he’s built his entire career perfecting. But you’d think that someone so known for weaving together insulting tracks could steer away from such lazy expressions like the f-word.
I, a weaker writer than this supposed legend, don’t have to resort to slurs. I can just call him a has-been who’s built his relic of a career on the backs of insulting minority groups and such a deep hatred of women I’m surprised he’s not currently in police custody. But here we are.
Yet now he’s sort-of, kinda apologized for using the word. Again. We need to reject this apology.
The word appears on the track Fall, where he slams Tyler the Creator – who has opened up about his sexuality on past albums – with the lyrics: ‘Tyler create nothing, I see why you called yourself a faggot, bitch / It’s not just ‘cause you lack attention / It’s cause you worship D12’s balls, you’re sacrilegious.’
Not just one but two bits of homophobia. All because he said that one of his albums wasn’t very good.
People against the rapper
The backlash was inevitable. People called him out on social media. LGBTI ally and creator of ‘that song you swear you remember from somewhere’ Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons dragged him. Justin Vernon, who appeared on the track, distanced himself from its ‘tired’ message’. And now Eminem has sadly addressed the whole matter in an interview with Sway.
You can read the full ‘expression of regret’ here, but the non-apology ends with ‘I wasn’t in the right mind frame. I was angry.’
He ‘[realizes] that I was hurting a lot of other people by saying it,’ but it doesn’t matter, because he was angry. Mr Mathers, you are a grown man. You are responsible for your own emotions. Your anger doesn’t justify using a homophobic slur and perpetuating a negative attitude towards homosexuality. I don’t know why I need to explain this to an adult. I would explain this to a three-year-old.
Tyler the Creator isn’t free from this. Sure, he’s now hinted towards his sexuality, but it doesn’t automatically do away with the fact he used the f-word negatively 9 times on Gobblin. Yet Eminem’s use is insulting and his non-apology is even more so.
Because Eminem doesn’t actually care. The Marshall Mathers LP, one of his most popular albums, is basically built on that word from the ground up. He probably doesn’t even hold any homophobic beliefs; he just likes the reaction. But Eminem is slightly worried that this negative tide against homophobia might one day affect his album sales, though right now he doesn’t have to worry. Loads of fans bought it.
People don’t care about homophobia if the music is good
People are performatively woke but once that album drops, suddenly calling people out on social media takes a backseat to Slim Shady’s bars. And Eminem has been weaponizing homophobia since the beginning. Even if he justifies it, like in this Rolling Stone interview where he says: ‘Those kinds of words, when I came up battle-rappin’ or whatever, I never equated those words [with being gay].’
Eminem doesn’t and might never care what he is doing. But you know who should care? Fans of Eminem. The ones who are out there buying his stuff. Streaming the album. Spending $100 on a concert ticket. He shouldn’t be censored by anyone but the reaction of his fans.
Because they are propagating a culture that allows people to profit from using slurs as insults, that continues to equate being gay with something negative. Homophobia in society builds around this. If you think it’s ‘just a word’, that people are ‘easily offended’, and that Eminem is ‘just an artist’, then, my friend, you definitely haven’t been paying attention.
It’s a slippery slope, and the more people like Eminem equate the word ‘gay’ or ‘f**got’ with a negative attribute and get away with it, the more we create a culture that views people of that sexuality as bad.
Tom is on Twitter as @TomCapon