Thursday, August 12, 2010

Burn, baby, burn

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning, it smells like victory.” Violence has always been a part of our popular culture. It’s as much an American pastime as baseball, apple pie and scurrilous Wall Street money grubbing. But when the lines blur so easily, so seductively between entertainment and anger, sex and violence, perhaps it’s time for a new hobby.

I’ve been bothered by Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie” video since it debuted last week. Actually, I’d been bothered by the song since it came out several weeks ago. Is her rapping about, wait, yes, he’s rapping about how he and his wife used to beat the shit out of each other. All righty then. Now, granted, it’s unmistakably catchy. Eminem has always had a way with a hook. Still the song also follows the musical gimmick du jour of having a pretty female vocalist sing a few pretty verses in between all the hip hop. (p.s. “Ghetto Supastar” called and wants its idea back. Oh, and then “Rapture” called and said, “Not so fast with the ‘your idea’ stuff, Pras and Mya.”) But that’s all peripheral when it comes to the video. This video.

The video with Eminem and Rihanna in front of a burning house and Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan burning said house down – metaphorically and plain old literally. The video that features two of the biggest celebrities with high-profile, highly volatile run-ins with domestic violence. The video that shows both Megan and Dominic hitting each other, making out with each other and, yes, catching ablaze with the passionate, crazy, angry intensity of their love for each other. Or is it hate? Whatever, have I mentioned it’s sexy?

The problem with “Love the Way You Lie” is not so much that it glorifies domestic violence as it wallows in the beauty of its rage. The video is pretty. It has Megan Fox and Rihanna, it can’t help but be pretty. The violence is, well, violence. But it’s also all-consuming, yearning and, yes, kind of beautiful. And therein lies the problem. Because through all the punched walls and tonsil hockey, Eminem also raps “If she ever tries to fucking leave again I’m going to tie her to the bed and set this house on fire.”

Which, I think we can all agree, is in no way beautiful. There’s too much sex in my violence. Love that burns the house down, that is the real lie.

25 comments:

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Great post. I mean, GREAT POST! I need much more coffee than what I've had to say more :)

dreamtreader said...

Yes! Absolutely agree.

e said...

I hate this shit.

McPuff said...

I have read many articles and blog posts about this video. And many of them seem to come to the same conclusion. However, I think a lot of the negative responses come from those who've never experienced domestic violence themselves. I do not disagree that the video is entertaining and that, to some, could be considering "glorifying" the situation. It is not, nor never purported to be, a tear jerking documentary. Still I applaud its honesty. The vicious cycle and extreme vacillating emotion portrayed is, if nothing else, honest. While this might not be everyone's experience, and certainly not exactly, it resonates with some. And I think we could all be a little more productive in combating this tragic reality of our society by directing the conversation toward education and prevention instead of denying its existence or not liking what we see.

WannabeVirginia W. said...

I was disturbed when I heard the video and fact that Rhianna was featured - we'll leave that for another comment. The video highlights the domestic violence within a relationship. It has all the cycles of abuse. I am hoping that young women don't mistake this video and accept that within love there is going to be some kind of violence along with "hot" sex. Not good.

WannabeVirginia W. said...

I couldn't have said better than McPuff.

Claudia said...

Loved your post, as always, because you're completely right, violence shouldn't be beautified in any shape or form.
That said, I now have that song stuck in my head.

Anonymous said...

I am also torn with this song. I like the honesty of Eminem's lyrics, and Rihanna's part is off the hook. But I was humming along originally without listening really and then I did. Then it was "holy sh!t! what are they singing about?!!" And that Dominic looks psycho!

But maybe it will open up some dialogue out there and make some people think about their relationships and that they might not be too healthy. They lyrics are certainly scary enough.

I try to hope that this will bring about some positive change. I'm a cup half full kind of gal. How else can you get by in this world?

Anonymous said...

Maybe cause I'm olde and clearly remember the origins of rap, but I've long loathed the genre. It has been hateful, abusive, and dismissive towards women from the very beginning. I'm sure I've missed a lot in the intervening years that wasn't misogynistic, but I'm not surprised to hear of this. I'm only surprised at Rhianna's role in glorifying this shit after she was so famously some asshole's punching bag. Yes, I'm all for frank discussion of the problem. I'm totally against it being packaged prettily. That doesn't help, it only makes it more acceptable.

allgood2 said...

Great post! I think the problem is that we now live in a culture that can't separate art from real life. The video and the song are beautiful and artful representation of a relationship based on domestic violence. Eminem has always been very good about writing about conflicts. Knowing somethings bad but wanting it or the fun in a horrible truth.

But yeah, the glorification will come; though its not like they need this video for it. So many people already believe that if their relationship is dramatic and passionate (with passionate being a misnomer for violent or argumentative) then their relationship isn't worth the effort.

Plus, so many people read what they want to into any song. It's how a Sarah McLachlan's Possession ( a song about a stalker with potentially violent leanings, who eventually committed suicide) gets chosen as the couple song at weddings.

People frequently misconstrue someone else's therapy.

Dominic and Megan are both wonderful. Am I the only one slightly shocked at how easy I could imagine either of them in these roles in real life?

Unfortunately, for domestic violence; we already have a couple generations of people who need to learn that its wrong, because they've already been taught in a variety of subtle ways that its right. At least with this video, people might pause to think why he's so conflicted.

Sora Ryu said...

I know domestic violence is a sad reality but I don't appreciate videos like Eminem's making it out to be all normal and beautiful and ok. There's a difference between being honest about a problem and seeming like one endorses the problem. From the majority of Eminem's lyrics about his relationship with his wife I get more of a glorifying violence vibe than an admission of guilt vibe. I really don't think that makes him a good role model to the teenagers who listen to his songs and may take his words as gospel.

one said...

My interpretation was different. I thought that it showed how intense and toxic some relationships can be for both parties. I didn't think Rihanna would participate in something that glorified these types of relationships.

Sora Ryu said...

When Rihanna was beaten by Chris Brown I wrote an article affirming female sexuality and condemning domestic violence. I don't think Eminem's work is acceptable as an art form. There are so many battered women out there and with attitudes about domestic violence changing so very slowly I don't think this video helps as much as it intends to help.

rubyphoenix (Tianna Glass) said...

I couldn't agree more with McPuff. Though I understand the fear of those who think this video "glorifies" DV, I'd rather think of this is a teaching moment. This song is about the crazy push and pull that exists in domestic violence. Em recognizes that when it's good it's SO good to them, but when it's bad, it's hurtful, crazy and not right. He never says it's the right thing to do, just how he feels. I know this resonates with a lot of people who are victims and who are going through this right now. Watching celebrities act out what they go through 10x worse IRL may encourage them to step forward and put an end to this.

I think we all get so caught up in learning an obvious lesson. I think people would be much more happy if Megan Fox's character was escorted to a women's shelter at the end. The sad and hurtful reality of the situation is that it doesn't always end that way. Beautiful women having sexy personal sex scenes are dying everyday. It's the contrast of that beauty and that seething rage that can keep a victim going back. I feel like this video is a great answer to the question DV victims face all the time: "Why didn't you just leave?" It's not always that easy.

lauw said...

what is wrong with |Rihanna? seriously first Rude boy, now this..After all she's been through tsk,tsk,tsk..What a role model young girls have these days

Tazzy said...

From the perspective of someone who survived, yes, survived DOMESTIC VIOLENCE in the most horrific manner - I can tell you this video is SPOT ON when it comes to the circle & cycle of D.A. Stockholm Syndrome happens a LOT in D.A. situations and I believe with a slight play on artistic impression, this video actually play closer to the truth than hollywood amp it up video. My 23 year old son sent me this video and said "I cried mom, you have to see it"

My father shot and killed my mother. If not the memory of the few moments in between their violence of sheer happiness, canoodling and affection, I may have gone righteously mad and never found my way through the horror of the ultimate Domestic Violence act, Murder.

Trust me when I speak of this video, it's eerily too close to the truth for many. Though I appreciate it the abhorence of it's existence, I welcome any format which exposes Domestic Violence for what it is & both sides of it.

In her Memory:
N.E.F.
03-16-1938 07-30-1970

Lulu said...

i honestly think that this video is doing a good job at getting people talking about domestic violence in a way they haven't ever before. it's so controversial and if you think about, analyze it, there are so many messages in the video. notice Rihanna never burns. to me she's almost the angel, the voice that's given in but still fighting back. i think Rihanna is a smart girl, she once said that she broke up with Chris because "although he may never hit me again, some other girl might die because of my decision". as in she KNOWS she's a role model that lots of girls will follow. but yeah, i think she knows what she's doing. and i don't think she would'e signed on if this were merely an exploitation/domestic violence being glamorized.
the one thing i don't like though, is that while i am sure the people who wrote the song and made the video were thinking about domestic violence and how to get certain messages across to the general public about the reality of the situation most domestic violence victims/perpetrators find themselves in. i don't think that the majority of people who will be watching this video will be thinking about it or critiquing it. people should though, there is a lot that is said in this video.

Anonymous said...

I hate Eminem but I was curious so I watched this video. Bleh. On a more positive note, Megan Fox donated the money she made doing this video to a battered women's shelter. Maybe she's not so dumb after all...

Heather said...

I think this song is catchy and I like it. But I like to think that its not glorifying domestic violence but its just a discussion of it. It doesnt condemn it as much as it should but it certainly doesnt make it look like a good thing to me...

Karmen said...

I know it might not be popular, but I've liked Eminem for years. I've often found his raps to be interesting and even insightful sometimes, and I'm not even a fan of the rap genre. He tackles topics that other people don't and he calls it as he sees it.

I heard this song long before the video came out, and it moved me in a strange way. Em himself is coming from having been both abused and abuser. He specifically asked Rihanna to sing on this song, and I think it's brilliant. I don't think she's glorifying it at all . . . she addressing it, refusing to let it be swept under the rug. It would have been so easy for her to say no to this project. But she didn't.

The last verse of the song/rap is so powerful. I feel like you're hearing the evolution of the thought from the abuser's point of view, and it's scary to me. Add on to that two extra beats at the very end of his unfailingly consistent rhythm . . . it just adds that extra tension. (But hey, I'm a musician, and I hear these kinds of things . . . maybe it's not something that everyone would identify.)

I was disappointed with the video, I'll admit. The song is raw and real (as other posters here have attested, having been victims of domestic violence) and I thought the video was a little hard to wrap my head around. It felt too . . . inauthentic. Maybe it's because I can't stand Megan Fox.

As someone who has at times been terrified by my own anger, this song was really hard to listen to, but it's been a sort of therapy for me. People are real . . . anger is real . . . violence is unfortunately real. I've never gotten to the point of striking someone I love, and I never plan to. But it happens to people every day. And don't kid yourselves . . . it happens a lot in our community.

I say bring on the discussion and the controversy. At least people are talking about this important subject. Props to Eminem and Rihanna for refusing to let people be comfortable . . .

dowhatuhavetodo said...

I do not nor ever will understand people's fascination with Eminem. He comes across as mean, spiteful, angry, and violent. I do not understand why Rihanna would associate with this immature man. Then I realized money and popularity is what celebrities people are after. As long as they get paid and get press I doubt they care what any of us really thinks. How a woman could support Eminem is beyond me. I hate that celebrities seem to be afraid of Eminem.

Anonymous said...

They shouldn't glorify domestic violence. Too many people (largely women) suffer and die from it daily.

Making Space said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VPpAZ9_qAw

My response is Martina McBride's Independence Day.

shoveya said...

is it me or during about 3:25 Megan Fox looks alot like Lindsay Lohan... something about the vibe

Anonymous said...

i heard that song here, and there, you know
radio. In that song what actually get attention is
the rihanna? somewhat that person's way to sing.
It's sellerable.

and I guess the reason they burn things down,
cus effect designer want to use the fire effect
on the music video since the person learn how
to do it. you know.

you see thru his album and movie,
there is something inspiring like how he
go thru the all the negative and difficult things,
and express cus somewhat artist, singer, actor,
writer whatever they like to do, but it's better
not to bother people, and don't do it really in
real world to hurt other's right.