Personally, I was TIVO'ing my way through most of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. I just couldn't get into it (In comparison, this year's Oscars were so, so much better). Although mostly the same awards show we expect from MTV (lots of SNL humor and teen screaming), LeAnn Rimes singing a rendition of host Andy Samberg's "Jizz In My Pants" and Forest Whitaker's "Dick In A Box" were cringingly funny highlights.
But clearly the WTF moment of the night was Sacha Baron Cohen teabagging Slim Shady on national television. My colleague and URB editor Josh Glazer has some thoughts on Em's reaction:
By now, everyone's seen this clip of Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno putting his now famous man muffin on Eminem's chin and the rapper's subsequent storming out on the MTV Movie Awards. And while Cohen and MTV were obviously in on the joke, I had my doubts about Eminem (update: who allegedly admitted it was rehearsed)
It's not that I doubt the lengths to which stars will go to get attention by acting the fool. It's that having grown up just a few miles from the actual Detroit suburb where Eminem was raised (10 Mile, to answer your obvious question), I've known enough folks like Marshall Mathers to know that you can take the kid out of Warren, MI, but you can't take Warren, MI, blah, blah, blah...
Detroit, like so much of the Midwest, is rife with the sort of reactionary, humorless, impatient and aggressive characters that Eminem has come to embody in the American psyche. Sure, Em has played up that character -- Slim Shady being the ultimate id of such personality (dis)orders. But that doesn't mean it's not real. If anything, Marshall has emphasized the realness of this mentality in his own life. The troubled upbringing -- real. Having your best friend killed at an actual club on 8 Mile -- real. Responding to fame by sinking into a years long pill stupor -- real, and the entire basis for his long awaited comeback album, Relapse.
With all this realness, why are so many quick to jump on the belief that the anger shown by Em (a career homophobe, Elton John or not) would be staged? Obviously, we've gotten so used to celebrity misbehavior that we imagine there must be an element of self-awareness to the tomfoolery. There can't be that many accidental nip slips. And then there's the fact that despite everything, Eminem
wasis a major talent whom we want to embrace, but without facing all the unpleasant hang-ups, many of which we share with the protagonist. I frankly don't want Bruno's taint on my neck either.
It's easier to assume this is a character act than acknowledge that we like the highly unlikeable person that is Marshall Mathers. But I know in my gut that his anger is real, having spent way too many days of my youth with folks like Marshall Mathers -- hard, fronting, unpleasant, prejudice, homophobic, blue collar, hip-hop loving white boys -- to shrug it off as stagecraft. And even if I'm wrong. Even if Eminem was in on the whole thing, the character he plays is the real thing all over the country. He even said it himself:
"And every single person is a Slim Shady lurkin
He could be workin at Burger King, spittin on your onion rings
[*HACH*] Or in the parkin lot, circling
Screaming 'I don't give a fuck!'
with his windows down and his system up"
("The Real Slim Shady")
This editorial was originally published on URB.COM