It's Good to Go Schizo

Rebecca Kahlenberg actually likes Mos Def a lot better. E-mail her at [email protected]

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Let's talk about Eminem. It's not because I think he's cute (guys who sing songs about murdering their pregnant wives are not cute). It's because this guy is the only mainstream artist who speaks the truth.

Schizophrenic and apparently proud, he's got three names for the three different parts of himself - Slim Shady, Eminem and Marshall Mathers. Using this system, he's become the top-selling artist in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and he now gets paid lots of money by MTV to be on shows and insult everyone else on MTV. Where do I get this job?

The answer seems to be going schizo. I mean, you could act however you damn felt like and then have some alter ego take all the heat. But then think of the effort in doing all of that dealing with others when you have multiple personalities. Do the math - if you have two personalities and I have three, there are six possible personality conflicts between us. If you account for disagreements between personalities that are inside the same person, then you have a total of five!, or 120, possible conflicts to consider. And that's only two people!

But in all seriousness, Eminem's job sucks. First off, he's rapping about things that black rappers have been talking about forever (like violence, drugs and hypocrisy), but he's white, so these suburban tight-asses listen to him and give him all this crap. And he knows it! His last album is the most self-conscious recording I have ever heard; whether or not you agree with his attitude toward the world, you have to give him credit for understanding exactly what is up.

He makes fun of gay people, and then three bars later makes fun of people who take him seriously. Then in the next song, he comes out in favor of gay marriage. He's screwing with everyone, just like the class clown, and we are supposed to laugh. But everyone's all up in arms ... gay rights groups are condemning him and stores won't sell his album. They just don't get it.

You see, I think that we should blame celebrities for everything, that way we can make sure nothing ever changes. It's easy to blame the only people brave enough to make you feel uncomfortable. When something comes along that scares you, or reminds you that people all over the world are in pain, or that there are people living in poverty that are really angry and want to rob you, just censor it. It'll go away, right? And you can stay safe, live in an apartment protected by a security guard, grow up and move into a gated community.

You want to talk about the media ruining our youth? People talk a lot about unattainable body ideals presented in the media and how that hurts people. But I'll tell you who the real culprit is. It's the cartoons' fault.

Cartoon characters can fly, they never age, they never get flack for their personal lives and when they kill or maim others, there are never any legal consequences. If they are dismembered, their body parts automatically regenerate. Now, that is some unrealistic shit.

And think how hard it makes it for real celebrities to compete with animated characters created by teams of people working thousands of hours. Imagine being in economic competition with fantastic beings unhindered by the laws of physics and the passage of time!

Kids learn about the cartoon world before they learn about the real world these days by watching cartoons while Mom and Dad are asleep. But the older they get, the more reality presses itself upon their time, constraining their real lives with rules and limits. Limits don't exist in cartoons; in that realm, humans are limited only by what they can and cannot conceive. So all of us grow up idolizing mice that fly, or robots that turn into cars or super-feline warrior squads that vanquish imperialism.

Of course, we still need reality, so we feel less alone. After all, humans are highly social creatures, and without each other, we can't survive. So real-life performers fill a necessary niche. But for the same reason why we need them, we destroy their lives.

We just expect too much. First, celebrities are followed everywhere by the press, their high school yearbook photos get published and made fun of, their fights with their moms or band partners or girlfriends are splattered across the news. But not only that, we blame them for how we feel about them.

Homer Simpson does something unbearably chauvinistic or ignorant in almost every episode of "The Simpsons" (a good example is from the episode when he takes Flanders to Vegas; Homer is barbecuing pigs on the roof and decides to take off, leaving the nasty mess for Marge). Does anyone blame the writers for encouraging men to be barbarians? If Homer were real, he would be held responsible for the example he holds up, just like Eminem.

Artists are put in a strange bind - they do something that people want to see or hear, and then everyone projects their own feelings onto it. This feeling has as much to do with the person as it does with the artist. Making art requires putting some of yourself out there in a way that is not always easy. Yet we not only expect artists to deconstruct the process of their art and its content, we even hold them responsible for how people feel about it.

Leave them alone. They are doing what they do best. Eminem is rapping, not killing people. Is he really doing anything wrong? Is Homer? Are you?


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