The backlash for Eminem’s new album demonstrates the problem with ‘cancel culture’‘cancel culture’

By Matthew Santangelo
May 4, 2020

“Music To Be Murdered By,” Eminem’s 11th studio album, was released by surprise at midnight on the 17th of January this year. The album garnered a lot of initial backlash for some of its lyrics and themes. One line in particular seemed to be the focus of the hate.

“But I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting,” Eminem rapped on the second track of the album, titled “Unaccommodating.”

Many media outlets as well as individuals social media outlets were quick to attack Eminem for the seemingly gruesome hyperbole.

“Music To Be Murdered By” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.
Photo by Matthew Santangelo

“You’d think that, after nearly a quarter of a century, Eminem might have had his fill of controversy,” Holly Thomas of CNN wrote in her article entitled “Eminem went too far.” “But if his latest lyrics are any indication, his appetite for outrage remains unsatisfied.”

The hashtag #eminemiscancelled quickly trended on Twitter as Ariana Grande fans in particular were quick to speak out.

Controversy is nothing new in Eminem’s career that has spanned over two decades. The shock value in his lyrics tend to scare many away before they are able to see the messages that lie underneath.

I think that those who are reacting this way clearly do not understand who Eminem is as a musical artist. He has always had very gruesome themes and dark humor, none of which was ever meant to be taken literally.

The Ariana Grande line was such an insignificant part of the album that was nothing more than a metaphor. Eminem clearly meant no disrespect to the victims of the bombing or their families. This is evident by the fact that he had helped raise millions of dollars for the cause when the tragedy first occurred in 2017.

It is also clear that Eminem does not actually condone violence or terrorism in real life by the simple fact that the lead single off of “Music To Be Murdered By,” named “Darkness,” is a plea for the end of gun violence.

Eminem has an extensive discography that spans over 20 years.
Photo by Matthew Santangelo

Taking these facts into account, it is clear that those who felt the need to try and “cancel” Eminem heard that one lyric from the album out of context and jumped on the band wagon of hate, probably never even listening to the song, let alone the album to form their own opinion.

This is the main problem with the idea of “cancel culture.” If one person decides that one thing a celebrity does is wrong, they can create a large coalition of people on the internet to buy into the same idea, most of the time without any fact-checking being done.

This creates a very dangerous climate to live in because anyone in the limelight can become guilty without even a chance to be proven innocent. Luckily Eminem has enough mileage in the industry that this one little incident did little to impact him. This is evident by the fact that his new album broke numerous records and by the fact that about half of the posts on #eminemiscancelled are talking about how ridiculous the situation is.

The inside of the CD booklet for "Music To Be Murdered By."
The inside of the CD booklet for “Music To Be Murdered By.”
Photo by Matthew Santangelo

Cancel culture becomes more of a problem for those who are just coming into the spotlight. If one semi-influential person on social media decides they want to “cancel” an upcoming artist or politician for any reason at all, they can probably do so.

Matthew Santangelo

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