First off, watch the video:
This is the view of Ms Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown on Eminem/Rihanna’s ‘Love The Way You Lie’. She recorded a G-chat on the topic with her friend Amanda on her blog, raising, I think, the most important points here.
AMANDA: I am fucking pumped to be talking about how sexy domestic violence is! And catchy!
SADY: Indeed! With such movingly sung hooks, from actual domestic violence victims if at all possible.
AMANDA: Only the best.
SADY: This is the thing that kills me about the Eminem/Rihanna/Megan Fox collabo (ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT IT COVERS LITERALLY ALL OF MY PURPORTED INTERESTS: The video would have to star, like, a sentient beatboxing bottle of bourbon to cover more bases for me)… the use of Rihanna to endow more Real-World-Relevance to the otherwise sad and hobbity scenario.
AMANDA: Yeah, I mean I think that her presence on the track is what really has confused things. Because otherwise it’s JUST ANOTHER EMINEM SONG GLORIFYING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Except in the other ones, he would play the role of domestic violence victim as well by adopting his condescending lady voice! This one however is much more serious.
SADY: Right. And, I mean, it’s getting so much credit based on this Seriousness. What it reminds me of, honestly, is “Stan.” That song where, after years of recording ridiculous over-the-top fantasies of killing his wife and everyone close to her and stuffing her in a trunk and disposing of her body, there’s a song in which a fan of Eminem is like, “hey, that’s not a half-bad idea! For I too am an unstable lady-hating freak of nature!” And Eminem is like, “whoa. That is fucked up.” Except… he apparently doesn’t feel that way? Because right after he’s done recording the song where he feels all bad about his Accountability As An Artist, he goes back to the murder fantasies?
The song makes domestic violence look at the very least cool (using well-known actors with well-honed bodies who have teen appeal), and at the worst as though it’s just a “part of life”. Rihanna sings “That’s alright because I like the way it hurts”. That’s excellent. Women not only love rape, but being punched and set on fire too! It’s sexy!
AMANDA: And then the only thing we get from Rihanna is “I’m asking for it.” They’re both equally responsible for the relationship here—he sets her on fire, she loves it.
SADY: Ha, right. And, I mean, in some way, I like those lyrics? They’re interpretable in one way as “do it to me, you sexy degrader of my human worth.” But the other interpretation, the one that stuck out to me, was that so many women in these relationships are like, “I can’t leave! I love him!” Or, unbelievable as it may sound, “I can’t leave! I don’t know if I could do better!” That bit actually stands out as semi-real, the way she’s so unsure that she does NOT deserve to be plunged in the fires of Mount Shady that she’s actually convinced that she wants that on some level.
Rihanna’s actual experiences with Chris Brown only compound the troubling view of doomed romance that the song embodies. As Sady says, by using an actual victim who then says I love how you lie to me, and the violence is actually pretty edgy, and that’s cool, it sends a very sick kind of message to the 18 million people watching the Youtube video.
Eminem’s lyrics show a man wrestling with the usual ‘manly’ issues
I laid hands on her
I’ll never stoop so low again
I guess I don’t know my own strength
Man is angry. Man use violence to make him feel better.
Most men are not cavemen. Sadly this persona appears to tell young men “Hey, we all feel like this”. The solution? Count to ten? Sit down and think about why you are angry? Talk to your partner? What about
If she ever tries to fucking leave again
I’mma tie her to the bed
And set the house on fire
Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? Probably because it’s MFIF. Guys come up with all the best solutions.