I have a confession to make. This is not one of my proudest moments, and I’m afraid that I may have let many of you down. But in all good concious, I have to come clean.
“8 Mile” may be my new favorite movie.
There. I said it.
I didn’t mean for it to happen. It was accident, I swear. I was waiting for my laptop to boot up, I was flipping through channels, and suddenly…I stopped. It was playing on VH1, and something grabbed me. I even flipped past it and went back. One minute turned into two, turned into 15, and suddenly I was enamored. I couldn’t help it, I just got swept away.
It’s shameful, I know. I’ve always hated rap. It sends terrible messages glorifying detrimental behavior, including heavy drug use, abusive and objectifying treatment of women, gang membership, theft, murder, and more. The rap music spinning a positive message can be counted on one hand, and from what I’ve heard, Eminem is one of the worst of the bunch. Not to mention the fact that all rap music tends to sound the same to me…
I think what grabbed me is that the scene that I stumbled upon featured Jimmy (played by Eminem) sharing a sweet moment with an adorable little girl who turned out to be his sister. Something about the vulnerability displayed, if only for a moment, was enough to make me stop. I also think that if I look back at my life, I’ll realize that I’ve been harboring a subconscious infatuation with Eminem; one of those forbidden bad boy deals where the fact that he stands for everything that you hate and could very well kill you with a 2×4 makes you only want him more, but you’re so disgusted with your own feelings that you bury them very, very deep, along with the truth about why you won’t sit next to your uncle at Christmas.
Whatever it was, it was enough to make me decide to watch the film, and I’m afraid to say that I enjoyed it. I think what I like the most is that the movie takes everything extremely seriously except itself. What I mean by this is that things that were important to Jimmy (protecting his sister, this rap battle thing at the end, breaking free from other rap people who were trying to control his career, I think, working hard to get more hours at his job) were taken very seriously, and faced with extreme intensity and focus. But at the same time, there was no overly dramatic music, no melodramatic mending of relationships or great realizations, no Rocky moments with a fist punching the air. There is absolutly nothing to indicate what Hollywood generally considers to be a happy ending, or even anything that says that Jimmy’s life of poverty and abuse will ever change. At the end of the epic rap battle, he simply says good-bye to his friends and goes back to work at the auto plant. But I think I liked the movie all the more for it. It’s not trying to make you laugh or cry or recycle more; it’s just trying to exist as it is.