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Music as Media 3: Eminem's Grammys

Music as Media 3: Eminem's Grammys

Author: Amee Wittbrodt
  • Understand, analyze, evaluate, and use different types of print, digital, and multimodal media.
  • Critically analyze information found in electronic, print, and mass media and use a variety of these sources.
  • Construct an educated opinion about whether or not Eminem should have won 3 Grammy Awards in 2001.

This packet is 3rd in a series about music as media.

In this packet students will read about Eminem's success in 2001 and form an educated opinion about whether or not he should have won 3 Grammy awards.

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A theme in FRONTLINE's "The Merchants of Cool" is how marketers of teen culture are promoting certain artists whose music and imagery are very disturbing in their anti-social behavior and attitudes.

Currently no music star is more denounced for this than Eminem, a white rapper and hugely successful mainstream artist whose lyrics vulgarly denigrate women and gays and celebrate violence.

Eminem was the big story at the February 2001 Grammy Awards. Nominated for four Grammys, he won three. For Eminem's supporters, a large part of his appeal lies in his sarcasm and blurring of truth and fiction; it's difficult to discern his real intent from his jester-like, acerbic wit and the multiple personas he adopts. On the day of the Grammy event, music critic Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times: "Unlike many of his detractors, Eminem regularly makes a distinction between words and action....Meanwhile, the music connotes comedy: bouncy keyboard lines, whiz-crunch sound effects. Eminem leaves it to listeners to separate his Grand Guignol humor from his position statements, and so far, the fans may be better literary analysts than the horrified adults...." And Michael Greene, the head of NARAS, the organization bestowing the Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Iovine, head of Eminem's label, Interscope Records, feel Eminem represents today's voice of rebellion and thus is similar to gifted rebels of previous eras.

But Salon's Eric Boehlert takes on the music critics who celebrate Eminem's work, and Boehlert's critique includes several excerpts from Eminem's lyrics which illustrate why so many condemn the artist.  Click here to read the Salon article WARNING: explicit lyrics included. This article is optional.


Discussion Questions

This discussion asks you to critically think about Eminem's lyrics and what they stand for. Eminem has become a "hugely successful mainstream artist whose lyrics vulgarly denigrate women and gays and celebrate violence." Despite this fact, he won 3 Grammys in 2001 creating a lot of controversy.

Thoughtfully answer the following questions. This is your opinion, but it should show evidence of deeper thinking. It needs to be an educated opinion.

  1. Should Eminem have won the Grammys?
  2. Why is he so popular?
  3. What does his success say about our society? Why is he so popular?
  4. Are you okay accepting his fame and controversial lyrics?