The Bush-Eminem Connection

Richard Goldstein argues in the Village Voice for a connection between the success of Eminem’s “8 Mile” and the recent election victories for Bush.

These two events may not seem related, but they both reflect the mainstreaming of ideas that seemed extreme just two years ago. Bush’s right-wing agenda and Eminem’s violent misogyny were once considered over the line. Now they have crossed over and become the line.

Not that Em is a Republican (though he might favor ending the estate tax). But he and George W. Bush do have certain things in common. Both draw their power from the compelling image of the strongman posing as the common man. Both played the populist card to win the nation’s heart. And I would argue that both owe their success to the sexual backlash.

I remember being in college during the early 1990’s watching the political correctness battles and the culture wars surrounding the NEA. The Republicans and Bush have successfully toned down their message from the histrionic levels of the Gingrich era, but have the policies and attitudes behind them really changed?

Although I was skeptical of the efforts by multiculturalists to create speech policies that protected anyone from offense or even disappointment, I was sympathetic to their efforts to promote tolerance and education about other cultures. The real shame of the debate is that words like ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘political correctness’ have been tainted with levels of infamy akin to the word ‘liberal.’ But the words do connote a real struggle. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult, well nigh impossible, to be nuanced in today’s media world.

Via the cool weblog at the Guardian Unlimited, England.