It’s been more than 20 years since Eminem first came to mainstream attention, shocking politicians and suburban parents in the process, and somehow he’s still generating controversy.
A number of videos on social media have been talking up an apparent feud between “Gen Z” and “Millennials” in recent days over whether the rapper should be cancelled over problematic lyrics in his songs.
The majority of the criticism has focused on his 2010’s hit “Love the Way You Lie”, with these lines attracting attention:
“I apologise even though I know it's lies / I'm tired of the games, I just want her back, I know I'm a liar / If she ever tries to f****** leave again, I'ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire.”
Recently, some TikTok users have taken a closer look at those lyrics (which they probably first heard as children) and understandably concluded that they’re… well, pretty messed up, leading some to suggest that Eminem should be cancelled for them.
This has sparked a defensive response from some millennials – particularly the kind who built their entire personality around his music in the 2000s.
In fact, Eminem thrives off this sort of drama and has done so ever since he first emerged as a superstar, with tracks like “Kim” (a song about killing his then-wife) and “I’m Back” (a song which references the Columbine school shooting) on The Marshall Mathers LP.
As recently as last year, he was trying to stir up controversy by making light of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.
None of this stuff has ever got him cancelled before, because these shock tactics are what his fans want from him - complaining that Eminem is problematic is as pointless as complaining that Kanye West is arrogant.
It’s highly unlikely then that anything said on TikTok is going to do much to harm his career, but it also shouldn’t be surprising that a bunch of teenagers don’t like the music of a 48-year-old rapper.
Maybe in 20 years time Gen Z will be arguing with their successors about whether to cancel XXXTentacion… although hopefully we won’t still be talking about Eminem then.