I'm behind the times with this post but I was driving in my car and almost choked on my granola bar when I heard Eminem, a man charged with domestic violence, and Rihanna, a survivor of domestic violence singing a duet about domestic violence together.
And then I almost threw up my granola bar when I listened to the lyrics. Not because I hate the song but simply because the lyrics of the song are so raw and visceral.
"Come inside, pick up your bags off the sidewalk
Don't you hear the sincerity in my voice when I talk?
Told you this was my fault, look me in the eyeball
Next time I'm pissed, I'll aim my fist at the drywall
Next time? There will be no next time
I apologize even though I know it's lies
I'm tired of the games, I just want her back, I know I'm a liar
If she ever tries to fuckin' leave again I'ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire." - Eminem
"Just wanna stand there and watch me burn, that's okay because I like the way it hurts." -Rihanna
It's hard to listen to, especially if you ever heard any of the vile trash Eminem has rapped about abusing women in the past (i.e. "I don't need a tank top to be a wife beater.") But honestly, I think it gives a really honest depiction of what happens in many of these situations. The entire song is Eminem apologizing for being abusive while revealing to the audience that he was never sorry for a second, he just doesn't want her to leave him. And Rihanna for her part, tells the audience that maybe she knows he's lying but when you love someone it's really hard to leave. Eminem is actually condemning it by displaying it in such a public forum. No, he never explicitly says "Domestic abuse is wrong" but he does explicitly say, "Domestic abusers are liars."
Much of the commentary around this song suggests that it's victim blaming. I get that. And honestly, I wish Rihanna had a larger part in the song. She told Access Hollywood that, "it's something that, you know, [Eminem and I have] both experienced on different ends of the table. It was believable for us to do a record like that, but it was also something that needed to be done and the way he did it was so clever."
Eminem is trashy but he is clever and "Love the Way You Lie" is sparking conversations about domestic violence and gives a realistic and visceral depiction of it without romanticizing it at all. I'll take it.