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Music and Society: “Eminem Is Right” by Mary Eberstadt Essay (Article Review)

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2022

Various scholars and majority of American parents have come to a conclusion that some of today’s music is darker and dirty compared to the classics and blues of yesteryears. In the essay “Eminem Is Right” the author, Mary Eberstadt discusses the meanings, social implications of contemporary American popular music and how parents blame artists for what their children go through from youth rage, suicide, self-violence and sexual exploitation. She thinks that it’s the present parents who are not as protective, loving and as attentive as parents of previous decades (Eberstadt, 2004 p.229).

In addition, she claims that the parent-child separation is greater than it ever was and all of these reasons had a major effect on children. Eberstadt takes a profoundly deeper look into the meaning of Eminem’s songs; they were made in the first place because of bad parenting e experienced and he’s expressing it. She also says “As with rappers, the vicious narrative treatment of women in some of Eminem’s songs is a part of this self-conception as a child victim” (, 2004 p.226) and brings an example the song “Kill You” (Eberstadt, 2004 p.266) by a popular metal band to show that behind every song, there was a motivating reason that’s pushing the artist.

I completely agree with the author’s article. Eberstadt’s article is convincing in general but incomplete because she quoted several different people, but ironically not the artist himself. Eminem’s quotes convey his experience and the reasons why he is doing what he is doing. His perspective is extremely vital in my opinion since he is the subject of this article and the fact that the reader would like to know what he thinks and try to see what he sees from his point of view.

As suggested by Britt, 2004 family dysfunction, checked-out parents, broken homes and especially the absence of fathers cause this negative effect on children’s particular way of conducting themselves. Children need attention and good parenting to avoid negative outcomes such as suicide or self-violence. It is worth noting that media plays a vital role in shaping the cultural as well as social aspect of a given group of individuals. Some of present parents are not as attentive as they were and this creates a significant gap between their relations with their children, which the author mentions on the last sentence of her essay (Eberstadt, 2004 p.229).

They are simply shifting the blame towards the artist. Eminem can be looked as an illusion just like the rabbit-duck picture; people call what they see but that does not mean parents should be biased and blame the rapper. Children who have experienced bad parenting or a disturbing childhood would completely understand these songs. This is what I thought of; if some guardians blame the music, why don’t they censor it instead of being oblivious about what kind of music is playing in their child’s headphones and buying their children whatever records they would ask for?

Sociologists from the University of Maryland have established that today’s parents are busier than those of the past decades. Therefore, parents would have little or no time at all to spend with their children (Britt, 2004). This kind of gap makes it very challenging for parents to help their children grow up having socially acceptable behaviors. It has been argued that people buy Eminem’s album because he uses violent language, in my view this is not true. I think it is because he has the bravery to state his opinion and share his feelings without sugarcoating it at all. His childhood was a living nightmare, he witnessed parental loss, abandonment, abuse and the list goes on. This shows bravery.

Eminem shows sympathy for the children who are suffering from what he suffered in his life and that’s why he said “I came to save this new generation of babies from parents who failed to raise ‘em cause they’re lazy (D12 – Fight Music).” He was in those shoes and he does understand how it feels like. In my opinion Eberstadt’s point of view matches mine; parents could control and shift everything to a positive side instead of making it backfire on them. It’s such a tragedy to hear about what’s happening, for instance the child who committed suicide due to disharmony in the family, which lead to a depressive period.

Even Eminem feels horrible about the way children are looking up to him as a role model since they’re not getting any guidance from their busy parents and said “It’d be stupid for me to sit here and say that there aren’t children who look up to me, but my responsibility is not to them, I’m not a baby sitter” (Eminem –interview summer 2001). With this statement the rapper puts it very clear that it is not his responsibility to raise children of parents who have failed to perform their duties. Parents should develop strong-based relations with their children so they can open up and speak up to them to dodge certain outcomes (Martino, 2004).

Lastly I would like to slightly differ with the views of the author of the article ‘Eminem is Right’ when she said that “today’s music is darker and coarser than yesterday’s rock; misogyny, violence, suicide and sexual exploitation”. In my view even artists of yesteryears were singing the same themes Eminem sings now. The only problem is that the same themes are being sung by someone with mass appeal. This is quite important as it will help keep everyone on toes with a central focus of solving family problems that negatively impact on children later in life (Martino, 2004).

In conclusion, I believe the artist bravery of airing what goes behind families have brushed some individuals the wrong way. However, it the responsibility of parents and the society at large to work towards ensuring that children are brought up in the most rational way so that they grow up exhibiting socially acceptable behaviors.


Britt, D. (2004). Stats on teens don’t tell the whole story. Washington Post. Web.

Eberstadt, M. (2004). Eminem is right: The primal scream of teenage music. Policy review No. 128. Web.

Martino, K. 2004. . Web.

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