Imagine still hanging around parking lots—wearing a hoodie—in your mid-40s. Such is the tragedy of Marshall Mathers’ (a.k.a., Eminem) rebirth from pitchfork picador to corporate captive and shambling figurehead of the increasingly untethered anti-Trump Resistance.
It’s all rather funny. Mathers’ Damascene conversion is painfully obvious to all but him. In a staggering feat of reverse alchemy, the milky rap demigod now “hangs” with Ed Sheeran, P!nk, and Beyoncé. I hunch this mottled cadre of saccharine conformity delights in Mathers’ final victory over himself.
In recent months, Mathers released a video and a series of other taunts he must suppose amount to his version of a “fatwa” against the president. He mad tho. They don’t seem to have much effect: “I feel like he’s not paying attention to me. I was kind of waiting for him to say something and for some reason, he didn’t say anything,” he mewled, after his woeful parking-lot howling amounted to little more than a silent scream.
Such is the scale of Marshall Mathers’ embrace of establishment schlock. The Eminem of old possessed a wit so corrosive President Trump’s gauzy thin skin would have bubbled under the heat. No more. Mathers’ alter ego is forever dead.
Like all who experience a spiritual rebirth, the victorious Mathers possesses and confesses the mutant zealotry of the radicalized. An alt-Right stillbirth, his quickening into a caps-lock Holden Caulfield begs pity when his irrefutable middle-age glares.
Too old to be edgy, the doughy corpulence of the middling years proves too imposing and too inevitable; his once generous mop retreating, with French enthusiasm, into the cautious congruence of parking-space provision and erectile misfortune.
Stipulating that, his new album, “Revival,” suffers badly from performance anxiety. Mathers, it seems, can still talk his way into the bedroom, but the crucial marshaling of the troop flops and flails like Jell-o nails. His stricken companion, it’s assumed, explains that such biological malfunction “happens to everyone,” before leaving in haste.
The problem isn’t temporary. Mathers has flung the white flag, offering himself as a blood sacrifice to the Resistance’s desperate sortie to destroy the president before the Democratic grand plan is smoked under an igneous 3 percent flame.
After all, Trump, the Huffington Post admitted tearfully, is winning.
The panting desperation of Mathers’ establishment handlers makes his metanoia all the more tragic. Mathers is now a jowly 45-year-old babbling semi-coherently, aghast at political upheaval he spent decades fomenting with phosphoric brilliance and brutish élan.
Worse yet: nobody is listening. This tone-deafness confirms his browbeating irrelevance and radiant lack of introspection. Mathers, and his Resistance brethren, claims to be fighting a great evil, yet Trump’s countless detractors (and those of anti-Brexit stock) are whale food for Wall Street.
Do any of these leprous treacle-wits really believe they are resisting anything except their own ability to think coherently or logically? Doubtful. Should they be pitied? Perhaps.
Mathers’ only resistance is to himself. Or at least, to the Eminem who made millions of dollars by whipping young, angry (and usually white) men into a hissing lava. Men despondent at the outlawing of their masculinity, the outsourcing of their prospects, and the outrage of a country sacrificed on the trading floors of lower Manhattan.
Eminem birthed, bred, and bottled that spewing anger. And rightfully so. At his apogee, the scabrous Slim Shady spat in onion rings and knuckled the pulp out of corporate saps NSYNC and their prissy pant-wetting. Now, as mentioned earlier, he hangs with Ed Sheeran. How the mighty fall.
Like Dr. Frankenstein, Mathers is aghast at the horror he juiced, jacked and reanimated to do his bidding. After all, his early-2000s anti-Iraq war attacks on Bush 43 were gravid with incendiary discourse common to 4Chan message boards and the reaction-seeking ironies of the alt-Right. Whether he likes it or not, from him battalions of angry young men took their cues. From them, he took their last dollar bills.
Yet, somehow, Mathers skipped the churning cultural pulsations which put his uninterested nemesis in the White House, instead allying with a frothing minority whose adolescent wailings embody everything his alter-ego detested.
Will the man who once rapped about raping his own mother now don a pussy hat in protest of the president? Time will surely tell, sistahs.
What ordained Mathers into the lobotomized liberal cult is his denunciation of something he was born with, and cannot change. Yes, Marshall Bruce Mathers III is criminally, sack-of-rice-in-a-snowstorm white. To be a modern liberal, one must—with an Alanis Morissette-like grasp of “irony”—judge others by the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character.
And so is the brightest irony of this march of folly: The last place one will now find sounds of anti-establishment flavor—like the hip-hop of old—is in an urban parking lot, flanked by middle-aged men who insist still on showing the world their underwear.