You Don’t Get to Decide What We Art About
Even well before the days when pioneers such as the legendary comedian Lenny Bruce and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jim Morrison were arrested for words they said on stage, parts of our society, whether special interest groups or entire entities of Government have worked tirelessly to censor those who refuse to be censored in the world of art.
Though thankfully, the days where cops rush the stage to arrest an entertainer for something they said into a microphone in the interest of entertaining a crowd have long since ended, attempts at censorship have not.
Perhaps in no artist has this been more evident than in rapper Eminem, even if at times understandably so. From songs like his Marshall Mathers Lp’s violent revenge fantasy, ‘Kim’ in which he kills his wife for infidelity, to his most recent controversial track ‘Darkness’ where he writes in part from the perspective of the Las Vegas mass shooter — Eminem has spent 20 years making songs the mainstream media have dubbed as politically incorrect.
While it’s hard for me as a 33-year-old man to still defend songs like ‘Kim’, a case can easily be made for the artistic and socially conscious value behind the song ‘Darkness’.
For starters, his latest controversial track that CNN writer Holly Thomas deemed as “going too far”, is extremely creatively written. So much so, that it took me, an avid Eminem fan since 1999, almost two full verses to fully realize he was writing it from the perspective of the Las Vegas shooter.
This is in part thanks to his use of double entendre’s, many of which could easily be at least half interpreted as having being written from his perspective (“I’m so much like my Father, you would think that I knew him”).
It is my opinion that creativity and originality outweigh the controversy on ‘Darkness’, where he not once jokes about nor glamorizes the mass murder nor shooter — but instead seems to be trying to shed a light on the issue of guns and mass shootings in America.
To no surprise, most of his good intentions get overlooked by the mainstream media and those hellbent on picking his every word apart at the seams, in the interest of writing their own story about something with a buzz attached to it.
While I got tired of defending Eminem, his lyrics and his legacy when I was still a teenager, both to critics and self-proclaimed fans alike, some just never seem to get tired of trying to decide what is or isn’t okay for him to write about.
And this obsession with censorship doesn’t stop with Eminem or even rap music. It has aimed at standup comedy, film, and even the conversational art of podcasting.
Over half of a century after comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested four times between the years 1961 to 1964 for using “salty language”, the censorship attempts and assaults on free speech continue, through comedians like Dave Chappelle.
When The Woke Are Morally Asleep At The Wheel
Chappelle was chastised by LGBTQ groups as well as the left-leaning media pundits and talking heads as a whole for jokes he made about transgenders throughout his first four Netflix specials. While I won’t defend those jokes, I shouldn’t have to. It used to be understood, that comedians were only kidding.
A transgender woman named Daphne whom Chappelle not only entertained but inspired and perhaps for a short time even befriended, took her own life back in September.
As if this in itself wasn’t sad enough on its own merit, some sad people couldn’t help but make a sad song sadder by suggesting her death was Chappelle’s fault, despite the fact he spoke about her personally in a purely positive light during a Q and A session after Sticks and Stones — and that a comedy routine was responsible for another human being taking their own life.
An implication, so presumably and incredulously unfair and heavy-handed, both to Daphne, Chappelle and as well as anyone such as myself who has lost a loved one to suicide, to which I can’t help but quote the woke’s most recent fad of a favorite sixteen-year-old Swed in Greta Thunberg by saying, “How Dare You?”.
You’ve willfully earned my version of the side-eye Thunberg herself rightfully gave Trump when he walked into the same room she delivered the referenced speech above at a United Nations Summit back in September.
You Can’t Joke About That
I personally find the claim that Chappelle was responsible for Daphne’s death more offensive than anything I’ve ever heard Chappelle joke about. The difference of course being, those who blame the comedian for Daphne’s death aren’t joking. Context is everything.
Chappelle’s most recent Netflix special Sticks and Stones is essentially a ballad against censorship. He intentionally aims at everything some would have you believe is off-limits, as a way of declaring, you don’t get to decide what he jokes or writes about.
I suspect Eminem too, knew what he was in for when he sat down to write Darkness. I mean after all, the song is featured on the surprise album he dropped last week, perhaps appropriately titled ‘Music To Be Murdered By' .
MTBMB is one with more than a few references to serial killers, mass murderers and interludes provided by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, so what is it critics of its content were expecting exactly, the softer side of Marshall?
The man has come to a point in his career, where regardless of what kind of music he puts out or discusses there within, someone will have something negative to say about it. Either he’s too soft, too vulgar, too angry, too old or too out of touch. Which begs the question then, why would he ever bother trying to cater instead of making the music he wants to if someone somewhere is going to be upset about it regardless?
The truth is, artists of every kind need greats like Eminem and Dave Chappelle to continue to do what they do best, in their own fashion. This not only leaves room for people like you and I to do the same, but it should inspire us to do so. Create in the way you see fit, on your terms and in your own words. There is no room for censorship in creative art.
If you want censored art, go back to buying Cassette Discs at Wal-Mart.