Again with the Bad Rap

If you’re reading this right now and you don’t like rap – remain calm and don’t leave.  This post isn’t about rap.  It’s about relationships and perhaps a little bit more.  Am out in Toronto right now and I’ve read some bad press here re Eminem’s song with Rihanna, ‘Love the Way You Lie’.  The word is that the song and video clip are evil in glorifying domestic violence and promoting abuse.  As though the soul destroying experience of a violent relationship – often arising out of intensely complex emotional politics, internal power struggles & fluctuating dynamics between 2 people can be so easily packaged and summarised as being ‘promoted’.  And this is based on little more than 4 minutes of lyrics and images of a man and a woman so entangled in each other that neither seems able to simply leave the self-destructive ruins of their union: ‘Just gonna stand there and watch me burn, but that’s alright because I like the way it hurts.  Just gonna stand there and hear me cry, but that’s alright because I love the way you lie…’          

Since when are long-term relationships (and even friendships) so one dimensional and simple?  He hurts you, you leave.  You walk out the door just like that – as though there is no internal dialogue to fight against, no pull of the past – theirs or yours, no fear of surviving without the other person, no having to painfully retreat from co-dependence … This isn’t about whether the person should leave or not, it’s about the fact that in real life it all just isn’t so simple.  And that’s all the song really intends to do – be a snapshot of real life – 2 people so entangled in and consumed with each other they just keep on hurting each other around in circles – until one or both of them breaks … If I wanted a clear cut linear moral or instructional message about how to conduct a relationship, I’d find a text book espousing the mechanics of building a manageable partnership or find some 14 chapter self-help manual.

I haven’t been in many relationships.  But nor do I live in my own micro-cosmos unscathed from the emotional angst or damage that can characterise even a short period or small part of the most solid relationships around me – if I’m not in one, I’m always the witness of one, in fact I live everyday being the product of one.  Listen to the song.  This isn’t called glorifying domestic violence – this is called a man lyrically conveying the raw experiences of parts of his life.   Music is an artistic expression thru which the artist tells a story. And often as is the achievement of a great artist, his or her story tells wholly or in part the story of somebody else – you, me, that person and the other.