And with the release of a new Eminem album comes new Eminem controversies that feel a lot like old Eminem controversies. In an interview with Rolling Stone to discuss his new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem was asked about his controversial use of the word “faggot,” which he uses most prominently in “Rap God.”
You’ve made it clear again and again that you don’t actually have a problem with gay people. So why, in 2013, use “faggot” on that song? Why use “gay-looking” as an insult?
I don’t know how to say this without saying it how I’ve said it a million times. But that word, those kind of words, when I came up battle-rappin’ or whatever, I never really equated those words . . .
To actually mean “homosexual”?
Yeah. It was more like calling someone a bitch or a punk or asshole. So that word was just thrown around so freely back then. It goes back to that battle, back and forth in my head, of wanting to feel free to say what I want to say, and then [worrying about] what may or may not affect people. And, not saying it’s wrong or it’s right, but at this point in my career – man, I say so much shit that’s tongue-in-cheek.
I poke fun at other people, myself. But the real me sitting here right now talking to you has no issues with gay, straight, transgender, at all. I’m glad we live in a time where it’s really starting to feel like people can live their lives and express themselves. And I don’t know how else to say this, I still look at myself the same way that I did when I was battling and broke.
So, Internet, for the last time, in case this and that didn’t convince you otherwise: Eminem isn’t homophobic; he’s just a human who, at least in his mind, thinks of “gay” as being synonymous with “weak,” not unlike Jesse Pinkman’s harmless use of the word “bitch,” and a rapper who’s stuck in the past, quite often to his own detriment. Not only with his terminology, but also his references — we’ve already discussed the Lewinsky name-dropping, but it’s not an isolated incident; much of Marshall Mathers, LP 2 sounds like it’s from a different time, a time when Eminem had the ability to offend. It reminds me of the current-day Simpsons: there are traces of glory in there, but more often than not, you’re left wanting the past, knowing that 13 years ago, “The Monster” could have been great, not merely good.
The so-called homophobia, too, is an unfortunate call back to the original Marshall Mathers, as dated as the mentions of Britney Spears, Insane Clown Posse’s “Magnets,” and Helen Keller (?). It’s an album full of old crutches, some more reliable than others. It’s definitely more wrong than right, and words like “faggot” ought to be permanently expunged from our vernacular, but there’s no controversy here — just a guy who can’t find new ways to piss people off.