Rapper Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers, quietly dropped a new album yesterday. Along with the album, came a new single “Darkness” and a chilling music video that pushes for gun control and urges people to vote.
“Darkness” dramatizes the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting, where over 50 people died and 850 were injured after a gunman open fired from his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay in what became the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
In the video, an actor portrays the Las Vegas shooter with Eminem rapping over the events as they unfold from the shooter’s perspective. He talks about being “armed to the teeth”, discusses being lonely, mental illness, having a father that doesn’t love him and says “round after round, I’m getting loaded. That’s a lot of shots, huh?”
Near the end, news clips flash by of other shootings that have taken place and the rapper urges people to stop the violence by registering to vote and passing more gun control laws.
It’s a chilling video and like many of Eminem’s other works, getting its fair share of criticism.
The Atlantic noted that while Eminem is seeking to curb gun violence, he’s also glorifying it with his music video. And while they admit that he’s “uniquely positioned to have an impact”, the outlet also suggests that the video could spawn copycat shootings and criticizes the rapper for humanizing the shooter.
Experts on mass shootings say that in addition to enacting stronger gun laws, one of the best ways to prevent future tragedies is to deny fame to murderers. The copycat phenomenon is real, and when the media broadcasts the names and faces of criminals and obsesses over their backstories, would-be killers get the message that they could become more famous than any of the people whose life they take. If Eminem jolts his fans into taking action to support gun control, that effect will have to be weighed against this grim fact: One of today’s best-selling musicians has humanized the perpetrator of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Survivors of the shooting say the video is triggering. Jeffrey Gray told a local news station in Las Vegas that Eminem went overboard with the video. “He could have left a lot of the detail out with him portraying to be Stephen Paddock. So I think that’s where he kind of went overboard.”
Clark County, Nevada also issued a statement, tweeting “A recently released music video is causing some strong reactions from people impacted by
#1October. For those feeling distressed by its content, the #VegasStrong Resiliency Center is available to help.”
A recently released music video is causing some strong reactions from people impacted by #1October. For those feeling distressed by its content, the #VegasStrong Resiliency Center is available to help. #Vegas
— Clark County Nevada (@ClarkCountyNV) January 17, 2020