Eminem’s surprise new album released early Friday, Music to Be Murdered By, is stirring plenty of controversy.
In a video for the single “Darkness,” Eminem raps from the point of view of the gunman — literally and figuratively — in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, which left 58 concert-goers dead. (Warning: graphic content)
CNN reports: At the video’s end, Eminem looks on at a wall of TVs flashing familiar news clips from previous shootings, including those at the Capital Gazette newspaperbuilding in Maryland, Santa Fe High School in Texas and the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, among others. “When will this end?” a card reads at the end of the clip. “When enough people care.” Eminem encourages viewers to register to vote at Vote.Gov to “help change gun laws in America.”
The Guardian reports that on another track from the album, “Unaccommodating,” Eminem compares himself to the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, who murdered 22 people in 2017: In the track, the star raps: “But I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game / Like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting.” Hours after its release, the musician faced a backlash on social media. The mother of 15-year-old Charlotte Hodgson, who died in the attack, called the track “disgusting” and “disrespectful”. Meanwhile, Figen Murray, whose 29-year-old son Martyn Hett died in the attack, called the song “pointless.”
The Atlantic‘s Spencer Kornhaber notes that Eminem is following in the footsteps of Madonna, who also recently released a graphic video calling for gun control. But in addition to potentially traumatizing survivors, Kornhaber says the rapper may end up doing more harm than good:
Experts on mass shootings say that in addition to enacting stronger gun laws, one of the best ways to prevent future tragedies is to deny fame to murderers. The copycat phenomenon is real, and when the media broadcasts the names and faces of criminals and obsesses over their backstories, would-be killers get the message that they could become more famous than any of the people whose life they take. If Eminem jolts his fans into taking action to support gun control, that effect will have to be weighed against this grim fact: One of today’s best-selling musicians has humanized the perpetrator of the deadliest mass killing in modern U.S. history.
Kornhaber notes that Eminem’s website features links to anti-gun-violence organizations, which we’ll repost here: the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and March for Our Lives.