much dropping of subtle hints and complaining about
my inability in middle age to take on new forms, Mrs
Hall finally got me into the pictures to see the Rapper
Eminem's first feature film, 8 Mile. Now, Mrs
Hall places Eminem alongside Bobby Dylan as far as
lyric writing is concerned, whilst to my ear his music
sounds like adolescent bleating. As you can see, we
clearly have a conflict of interest; I was looking
forward to the movie about as much as one does whilst
awaiting the Pearl and Dean ads they still show at
my local cinema prior to the main feature starting.
At the end of the film, when the house lights came
up, Mrs Hall turned to me with a superior look and
said, Well, what do you think? I had to
admit not only has the young man got something, but
I thoroughly enjoyed 8 Mile.
was far from what I imagined it would be like, i.e.
a pop promo, promoting Eminem latest CD.
we got a glimpse of the anger and frustration of working
class youth and their desire to escape the drudgery
for life bourgeois society has earmarked out for them.
That escape, portrayed in the film as being possible
via the music business, is ingrained in the hearts
of many popstar wannabes, but it is much deeper than
that, as along with sport it is also part of the human
dream to tie ones working and social life into one
interrelated lifestyle. This is especially true today,
in the ever more brutal world that has been created
movie portrays the daily grind of working class life
in the US accurately, something that is rarely seen
in a US movie; i.e., that a third of all US citizens
have no healthcare cover free at the point of need,
a modest home in the big cities is economically beyond
many, if not most working class peoples means (as
it is increasingly in Ireland and England), and public
housing has all but disappeared because of Federal
and State budget cutbacks, which then allow the Federal
government to give tax rebates to the richest 10%.
What Public Housing survives is reduced to stereotyping
by the media and those who live on estates such as
Chicago's the projects are portrayed insultingly
as the underclass, the poor
or coming from dysfunctional single parent'
families, ever willing for their children to become
victims of drug dealers, loan sharks and the rest
of the fleas that inhabit the underbelly of capitalism.
the character Eminem plays, lives in a trailer park
with his mum and little sister. He works in a metal
processing plant turning out sink units, all that
is left of the once mighty motor manufacturing industries
that used to ring Detroit; good working conditions
brought about through the trade unions organising
labour is a distant memory hire and fire, bullying
supervisors being the order of the day. Despite the
sheer monotony and dangerous nature of the work it
still does not bring in a living wage. This hard existence
is lightened, like it is for millions of youngsters
the world over, by two things: belonging to a gang
and music. By a gang, I dont mean it as portrayed
in the media and personified by the criminal rackets
of East LA or the late unlamented Drugadairs in Belfast,
but simply hanging out in a group that has common
interests, something teenagers have done since the
word was first coined.
cement that hold Rabbits crew together is rap music
and a common desire for it to propel them into the
world inhabited by their heroes. Sure the plot is
pretty thin, but out of necessity as it portrays a
group of youngsters hanging out, which in reality
is one of the most boring and uneventful parts of
dont want to go into any more details about the plot
of the film as it would spoil it for future viewers.
However I would just add that the acting is first
rate, especially those who play the members of Eminem's
gang, Kim Basinger, who plays his mum, and, to my
total surprise, the man himself.
I defy anyone who is working class not to feel a puff
of pride at the end, when our boy does good and slays
a pretentious mockney. Take my advice, leave you prejudices
and closed mind at home and go and see this film,
I'm sure you will, like me, be pleasantly surprised.
Oh, by the way, the bit about closed mind, etc. was
the argument Mrs Hall used to get me to the pictures!
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