Or Why Donald Trump is The Real Slim Shady
To answer the cliffhanger which ended our last installment without my usual penchant for preamble:
I am forced by my own inductions to call A Beacon of Darkness in the Day, good, if the audience responds. Having answered, I can now indulge that penchant for preamble…
Almost 20 years ago, my Modern Irish Drama professor stopped the literary discussion in our class with a [seemingly] sociological question:
Should we [she meant all of us… or posterity] discount the entire corpus of Yeats because, in his later years, he became obsessed with the Nazis and used his Art to propagandize them.
The ensuing discussion was immediate, and one person short of unanimous. Of the twenty or so young men and women in that class, every single one of them though Yeats’ WORK was inferior because of his politics.
And suffered much mockery for it. A mockery that eventually turned vicious. When their mockery failed, they resorted to insults. My intelligence was questioned. My humanism was questioned. I know my professor agreed with the class because of how long she let them corrode the academic environment.
I remember arguing that a person’s ability in one domain is independent of their ability in another. Just because Michael Jordan was a genius basketball player does not mean we should expect he also be a genius playwright. I asserted that one’s genius should be judged within domains and only within domains. One can be a vile person AND a brilliant composer. There is, in other words, nothing in the domain “brilliant composer” that ensures you will also be a morally superior person.
I hardly ever make pronouncements like this, but I was EMPHATICALLY right about Yeats. Compared to his poetry, Yeats’ Nazism is but a paltry thing. Which is not to say that it’s OKAY he was a Nazi sympathizer. It EMPHATICALLY isn’t okay. That part of Yeats sucks. It sucks even worse that there was never any apology from him for his having been so misguided.
There is no error in making a mistake, there is only error in not admitting it.
I feel like this current situation with Trump as our president is also a good example of A Beacon of Darkness who achieves resonance. Only once before have I forsaken aesthetics [in this blog] to make a point about ideology, but I thought the context was right then, and I think the Walter White context is as close as I will get to an essay that is more about psychology than writing. In other words, I feel like a discussion of mud is an acceptable platform from which to discuss our next political leader.
I thought for some time about an analogy which might introduce my ideas and eventually arrived at the Eminem song which acts as title for this installment.
Donald J Trump is The Real Slim Shady.
Marshall Mathers anthem to White Male Anger captures the same emotions as Trump’s candidacy. The song has a catchy beat which drills into your head and motivates you to keep listening. His visceral delivery ALSO keeps you listening. It is only after you finish listening that you wonder about the message you just received.
Interestingly, Eminem is artist ENOUGH to [on some small level] understand what he is doing. He rejects the accolades his profession might bestow on him BEFORE he is eligible to receive them.
I don’t give a f*** about a grammy
Half you critics can’t even stomach me
Let alone stand me
By disavowing the laurel, you necessarily make it more likely to be received. Trump used the same methodology. How often did we have to endure repetitions of the narrative that he did not actually WANT to win the office for which he was running?
The similarity between Eminem and Trump is stark. Eminem said he didn’t want our attention, and if you google Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 best hip hop songs of all time, you will see that he made the list THREE times. That is a fascinating disparity between expressed intentions and actual results. Trump [or some proxy for him] said he didn’t want to be the most powerful leader in the world, so, of course, now he is.
I won’t [even though I want to] take it for granted that the Art of Eminem and Trump is as worthless as it is similar. Instead I will quote the beacon… and let that stand for itself:
And every single person is a Slim Shady lurking
He could be working at Burger King, spitting on your onion rings
[*HACH*] Or in the parking lot, circling
Screaming “I don’t give a fuck!”
With his windows down and his system up
So, will the real Shady please stand up?
And put one of those fingers on each hand up?
And be proud to be outta your mind and outta control
And one more time, loud as you can, how does it go?
Everything which proceeds that “go” was written to prove that Beacons of Darkness in the Day exist. If they have the right mix of qualities, they can find resonance. But… now we have a tool for their detection. [We will add more as the “seasons” of this essay grow.]
Beware the Artist who claims she doesn’t want the natural fruit of her labor.
In her, there “is a Slim Shady lurking”. (1)
1 If it seems that we’ve gotten somewhat far from our intentions with this essay, remember that it has been written IN IMITATION OF THE FORM of a serialized television show. One of the most interesting things I’ve done as a critic is to imitate the medium I am critiquing in my critiques. I would almost go as far as saying that it is Original to me. In order to understand this essay to this point, you should think of the first ten installments as Season One. Article 9 was our cliffhanger. It was resolved in Article 10, and the groundwork for the other four seasons has been laid.
If I manage to achieve what I have planned, I will be able to remove the “almost” from that sentence about originality.