Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna fought its way to the top of The Hot 100 chart — ahead of the sunny fun-time of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” — and “fight” seems to be the operative word.
It’s seemed somewhat unfathomable that a minor-keyed downer about a real-life recurring abusive relationship featuring none other than the publicly physically abused Barbadian singer would top the pop tally during these summer months. But Eminem isn’t exactly known for good-natured grins, and something had to follow-up “Not Afraid.”
So Joseph Kahn — director of clips like Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and U2’s “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” — helmed this very expensive and emotionally conflicted music video, featuring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan trapped in a, well, toxic relationship. Monaghan puts back on his “Lost” character Charlie’s barbs, and the former “Transformers” actress brings out her claws: both get physically and emotionally violent, insinuating infidelity and regular fights systematically on “repeat.”
Eminem says the song was inspired by his out-of-control relationship with double-ex-wife Kim Scott (formerly Mathers), a topic the rapper has long-favored and never put to bed. The track doesn’t excuse the desire to put fist to face, but it, and the video, try to explain it. “Ultimately, what I think he’s trying to say in the song … is that he should have walked away a little bit quicker than he did and not let it get as messy as it did,” Moneghan told MTV.
Which is why Rihanna’s guest spot confuses me a little. Certainly, she was in an unhealthy relationship with her abuser Chris Brown, but interviews and reports don’t indicate it was necessarily the same sort of two-way street that “Lie” leads. She stands close to the burning house (in hot pants, no less), but doesn’t catch on fire, like Em does. Did she set the fire? Is she going back in the house? Is this any commentary whatsoever on her own relationship with Brown or is she only an voice aiding the story of Eminem’s own unhealthy relationship?
“It was believable for us to do a record like that, but it was also something that needed to be done and the way [Eminem] did it was so clever,” Rihanna told Access Hollywood. “He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it’s something that a lot people don’t have a lot of insight on, so this song is a really, really powerful song and it touches a lot of people.”
It’s not the Rihanna Story yet, but it touches on it, which is illustrated pretty powerfully for both man and woman in the clip.
And, in a nice side note, Fox donated her earnings from starring in “Love the Way You Lie” to Los Angeles women’s shelter Sojourn.