The use and the meaning of “faggot” in Eminem’s lyrics

Eminem is constantly viewed as gay bashing. Some people automatically refer to him as Eminem, “the homophobic rapper’. He frequently uses the word ‘faggot’ in his lyrics, but with a total different meaning. The general meaning of ‘faggot’ in Eminem’s lyrics is rather ‘coward’ than anything else.
A few lines from the song ‘Criminal’ have raised a lot of controversy, particularly among people from the GLAAD ( Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation):

“My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge
That’ll stab you in the head
Whether you’re a fag or lez
Or the homosex, hermaph, or a trans-a-vest
Pants or dress’hate fags? The answer’s ‘yes'”

The problem is the same each time. At first sight, those lines seem as aggressive and as gay bashing as possible. Sure, those lines have been taken out of their context! Let’s have a deeper look at the song ‘Criminal’. Later on, Eminem says:

‘C’mon Relax Guy I Like Gay Men
Right Ken Give Me An Amen Aaa Men’

You will clearly understand that Eminem is joking (if you got a sense of humor, of course!). The whole ‘Criminal’ song is total sarcasm. Look at the chorus:

I’m A Criminal
Cuz Every Time I Write A Rhyme These People Think It’s A Crime
To Tell Em What’s On My Mind I Guess I’m A Criminal
But I Don’t Gotta Say A Word I Just Flip Em The Bird
And Keep Goin I Don’t Take Shit From No One

Eminem is just playing with people’s mind. He knows in advance what to expect from conservative politicians and he’s amused ‘in advance- about their reaction. Eminem is by no means an homophobe. All he wants is to play with people’s heads in order to make them mad:

‘ You Motherfuckin Chickens Ain’t Brave Enough
To Say The Stuff I Say So This Tape Is Shut
Shit Half The Shit I Say I Just Make It Up
To Make You Mad So Kiss My White Naked Ass
And If It’s Not A Rapper That I Make It As
Bi’ma Be A Fuckin Rapist In A Jason Mask’

But the fact that Eminem plays with irony is obvious since the beginning of the song. That’s why those accusations of homophobia sound so ridiculous:

“A Lot Of People Ask Me Stupid Fuckin Questions
A Lot Of People Think That What I Say On Records
Or What I Talk About On A Record That I Actually Do In Real Life
Or That I Believe In It
Or If I Say That I Wanna Kill Somebody That
I’m Actually Gonna Do It
Or That I Believe In It
Well Shit If You Believe That
Then I’ll Kill You
You Know Why
Cuz I’m A

Criminal
Criminal
You God Damn Right
I’m A Criminal
Yeah I’m A Criminal”

It is more than obvious that he doesn’t intend to kill anybody in real life. If that point is so obvious, it is very clear that he won’t stab nor harm gay people in real life.
I think conservative people are more likely to misinterpret those lyrics than young people who usually got that sense of humor Eminem expects from them.
Gay people are not the only target of the song. Eminem also jokes about the Lewinsky affair. He talks about preachers’ abusive behavior and about his mom’s drug addiction. ‘Criminal’ is just a crazy song that is intended to make you smile, because you know the author is joking. I’d like to ask people who seriously think Eminem expresses his hatred of gay people, if they also believe he will kill his producer and spray his brain all over the place? Don’t you think it’s ridiculous to believe his statements are serious?

‘Replacin The Doctor Cause Dre Couldn’t Make It Today
He’s A Little Under The Weather So I’m Takin His Place
Mm Mm Mmm Oh That’s Dre With An Ak To His Face
Don’t Make Me Kill Him Too And Spray His Brains All Over The Place
I Told You Dre You Should’ve Kept That Thang Put Away
I Guess That’ll Teach You Not To Let Me Play With It ‘

Eminem precisely explained his use of the word ‘faggot’ in his lyrics in an interview given to NY Rock:

NYROCK:
There has been much controversy over your liberal use of the word “faggot” and what people perceive as gay bashing. It’s put you right in the line of fire from gay and lesbian groups the world over…

EMINEM:
I’m not gay bashing. People just don’t understand where I come from. “Faggot” to me doesn’t necessarily mean gay people. “Faggot” to me just means… taking away your manhood. You’re a sissy. You’re a coward. Just like you might sit around in your living room and say, “Dude, stop, you’re being a fag, dude.”

NYROCK:
But you can see how it would insult homosexuals?

EMINEM:
Yeah, but it does not necessarily mean you’re being a gay person. It just means you’re being a fag. You’re being an asshole or whatever. That’s the way that the word was always taught to me. That’s how I learned the word. Battling with somebody, you do anything you can to strip their manhood away.

NYROCK:
Sometimes it seems that you enjoy creating a bit of ruckus. I wonder if “faggot” is really necessary …

EMINEM:
I come from Detroit where it’s rough and I’m not a smooth talker. I am who I am and I say what I think. I’m not putting a face on for the record. When I started saying “faggot” on record, I started getting people going, “You have something against gay people,” and I thought it was funny. Because I don’t; I really don’t. I have something against assholes, but I’m not into gay bashing. A lot of people are too stupid to understand it.
I’d like to add that a blatent homophobe would never have performed with Elton John and also that ‘Criminal’ has been written by in reaction to the accusation of being homophobic.

We should not forget that Eminem is not the first rapper to say ‘faggot’ in his lyrics…
When will people stop confusing hip hop with real life?

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