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3BlackChicks™ "Guest Starring" movie commentary
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Is Eminem Another Tarzan?: 8 Mile (2002)

Review Copyright Panavision, 2002


8M

After viewing 8 Mile, I find myself wondering if the flick glorifies another Euro-barbarian invader. Is Mathers' Jimmy Smith the new, poet-king of the (urban) jungle? If someone gives him a rope, he can swing from tall buildings like a yodeling warrior.

When he's not saving the underdogs, the much-revered, slasher-rapper keeps his scowling mug set to permanent F.U. The many scenes of laconic, slow-burning isolation are no doubt intended to convey a sexy charm. And make no mistake about it, this manchild-in-turmoil is galvanizing the youth market with a soulful longing that plays like the atmospheric wailing of the guitar of Jimi Hendrix.

Over the past fifty years, the motor-town of Detroit has delivered a fat slice of the world's finest, popular music. How many mainstream dramas, prior to the appearance of the hip-hopping bwana, have showcased the romantic squalor of its mean streets?

There's some sizzle in the rap sequences, but overall, this corporate-sponsored, cultural enterprise degenerates to the level of a disturbing throwback. As the uncrowned god claims his Jane from amidst the legions of the urban poor, with an interlude of glorious making-out during a shift at the factory, the tone behind this evocation of black pop-culture smacks of devaluation, as seen in safari pix of yesteryear, replete with background, black exotica: Their passion was all consuming! Star-crossed lovers, wild at heart, they danced a drama set to the pulsating drums of darkest Africa!ca.

As Future, the rap impresario, Mekhi Phifer sacrifices himself in propping up a fear-choked Mathers. He gets dissed for it, but we have a long history of turning from our own in favor of hostile imperialists, so what's wrong with getting one more kick in the pants? Eugene Byrd, another prop in the role of Wink the promoter-manager, operates with slick duplicity; per the formula, Wink must have a taste of that still forbidden fruit called Jane (this time her name's Alex (Brittany Murphy)); although it takes two to tango, Mathers whacks Wink, first with his fists, then with his words, and we all know, of course, what a pure soul Mathers is.

The whole journey is a setup that has our people expending themselves like worker drones on behalf of His Eminence. In the end, he returns the favor with a heaping portion of rejection. But who could really be surprised to learn that after he came and saw and conquered, he carted off the glory while setting his cap for the big time?

The picture has the buzz of real excitement attached to it. Has another robber-baron laid claim to what we have created? Suppose he has. Herein lies the clue to the vitality of black culture. As we continue to be locked out of the big time, our vitality remains close to the fertile ground of the streets, where it gets ripped off in regular cycles, thus compelling us to keep inventing and changing forever.



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