61°F
weather icon Clear

Eminem grabs attention with Las Vegas video, but will it last?

Updated January 17, 2020 - 8:18 pm

Like a needy, motor-mouthed grizzly bear, Eminem emerged from hibernation Friday morning to slap the unsuspecting public across the face with his patented mix of sensationalism and provocation set to a sick beat.

If everyone but him was offended, so be it. At least people were talking.

“Darkness,” the lead single from Eminem’s surprise album “Music To Be Murdered By” and the only song on it to be accompanied by a music video, evokes the Route 91 Harvest festival massacre with the rapper taking aim at gun violence and, at times, putting himself in the mind of shooter Stephen Paddock.

However you feel about “Darkness” — and, no doubt, emotions are more raw in Las Vegas than they are anywhere else — at least it’s more nuanced than “I’m Back.” That track, off Eminem’s breakthrough album, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” seemed to find the rapper sympathizing with school shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold just 13 months after the 1999 killings at Columbine High School.

“I take seven kids from Columbine, stand ’em all in line / Add an AK-47, a revolver, a 9 / A MAC-11 and it oughtta solve the problem of mine / And that’s a whole school of bullies shot up all at one time.” Shortly thereafter, he goofed on ’NSync before rapping about how badly he wanted to sleep with Jennifer Lopez.

Then there’s this beaut from “Criminal” off the same album: “Hey, it’s me, Versace! Whoops, somebody shot me!”

With “Darkness,” Eminem bemoans that, because the shooter was a licensed gun owner with no prior convictions, “The sky’s the limit / So my supply’s infinite, strapped like I’m a soldier.” There’s also the senselessness of the tragedy and the sinking feeling that the motives for it, however nonsensical, will never be revealed: “If you’d like to know the reason why I did this / You’ll never find a motive, truth is I have no idea / I am just as stumped, no signs of mental illness.”

Eminem isn’t the first artist to come out against gun violence. He isn’t the tenth or the hundredth.

Madonna used an eight-minute video for “God Control,” from her 2019 album “Madame X,” to simulate a mass shooting inside a nightclub very much like the one at Orlando’s Pulse in 2016.

Rapper Childish Gambino’s 2018 single “This Is America,” as well as its arresting music video, called out the inescapability of gun violence in the U.S. on its way to winning four Grammys, including record of the year and song of the year.

The “Darkness” video, which shows a man in a hooded sweatshirt eventually opening fire out a hotel window, is a blend of realism and artistic license. References to the shooter taking Valium and placing a video camera on a room service cart in the hotel hallway are far more accurate than the bottles of booze that litter the room or the shooter killing himself as police were about to breach his door.

As uncomfortable as those re-creations can be to watch, Eminem handles them with far more concern than another act of terror from 2017. Elsewhere on “Music to Be Murdered By,” the song “Unaccommodating” reduces the bombing of England’s Manchester Arena that killed 23 people, including the perpetrator, to a throwaway joke: “I’m contemplating yelling ‘Bombs away’ on the game / Like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting.”

“Darkness” isn’t even the first piece of entertainment to use the Las Vegas tragedy to induce queasiness. On the Apple TV Plus series “The Morning Show,” when the news crew descends on the city hours after the shooting, a senior member of the show preys on the vulnerability of a young staffer, who’s spent the day interviewing victims and their loved ones, to get her into bed.

To some, Eminem’s message will be obscured by the political statement at the video’s end: “Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America.”

To others, the song comes off as a far cry from “Ohio,” the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reaction to the 1970 shootings at Kent State.

But Eminem has, at least for one news cycle, gotten people’s attention.

Even if, as the song’s closing lyrics note, “By the time it’s over, (it) won’t make the slightest difference.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
5 Las Vegas chefs to watch - VIDEO
If you want to know what’s next for dining in Las Vegas, we suggest paying close attention to these five accomplished chefs. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Slanted Door in The Forum Shops at Caesars - VIDEO
The Slanted Door, Charles Phan's James Beard Award-winning modern Vietnamese restaurant, will open a Las Vegas location on March 2. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas REview-Journal)
Buddy V opens PizzaCake at Harrah’s - VIDEO
Buddy Valastro, aka Cake Boss Buddy V, is in town this week overseeing the soft opening of his new restaurant, PizzaCake, in Harrah’s Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making mist-shrouded tuna poke at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas - VIDEO
E.J. Estrella, banquet chef at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas, makes tuna poke by mixing chunks of bigeye tuna with sliced green onions, julienned white onions and house-made poke sauce and serving it on a bed of seaweed salad garnished with lotus chips and suspended over melon-scented mist. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making baked goat cheese at Ri Ra in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Shea Wafford, sous chef and pastry chef at Ri Ra at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, makes baked goat cheese served with honey-nut pesto, pickled red onions, peppadew relish and sourdough baguette. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bruce Kalman cooking at Ada’s - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Bruce Kalman will be cooking at Ada's in Tivoli Village in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making banana cream pie at Cut in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Nicole Earl, pastry chef at Cut at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, makes an updated banana cream pie by layering banana ice cream, custard and compote with house-made Cool Whip, vanilla wafers and 24-karat gold leaf in a milk chocolate sphere and drizzling it with warm banana-caramel sauce so it devolves into petals. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Chile Colorado at Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas
Javier Chavez, chef/owner of Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas, makes Chile Colorado by braising pork belly with three kinds of peppers and serving it atop stewed black beans with crema and pickled jalapeño, carrots and onions, with flour tortillas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap introduces its vegan CrazyShake - VIDEO
Black Tap at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip has a new CrazyShake that's vegan -- The Black ’N White CakeShake. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri reflects on the Las Vegas dining scene
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri talks about the Las Vegas food scene while in town celebrating his 52nd birthday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Familiar faces among Circa culinary lineup
Derek Stevens and chefs Barry Dakake and Dan Coughlin talk about some of the new restaurants for Stevens' Circa resort project. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the Ausser Rand und Band (Over the Top) bloody mary at the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas
The Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas serves the Ausser Rand und Band bloody mary with Hofbrau Dunkel, vodka, bloody mary mix, a Tajin rim and a soft pretzel, slider, bacon, sausage and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Custom Pizza Truck is a 'kitchen on wheels' - VIDEO
Custom Pizza Truck serves pizzas in a one of a kind food truck that traveled to Poland and back. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @elipagephoto
Squidhat Records comes to an end - VIDEO
Founder Allan Carter explains decision to shutter the Las Vegas label. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kaiseki Yuzu relocates to Chinatown - VIDEO
Kaiseki Yuzu restaurant celebrated its move from Henderson to Chinatown at 3900 Spring Mountain Road on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Panic! at the Disco frontman opens studio for kids - VIDEO
Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie launches Notes for Notes at a Henderson Boys & Girls Club. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A sneak peek at the new Mas Por Favor in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Mas Por Favor in Las Vegas’ Chinatown is an Instagram dream come true with original art, an arch of skulls and one of roses. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegan menu unveiled on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Truth & Tonic, one of the two dining spots within The Venetian’s Canyon Ranch Spa + Fitness, rolled out its new plant-based menu on Friday. Executive chef Pete Ghione talks about the menu. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making lobster and avocado flatbread at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Josh Grimes, chef de cuisine at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, created a lobster and avocado flatbread that also has avocado-creme fraiche spread, yellow tomatoes, red onion and Hearts On Fire microgreens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Riding the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride at Disneyland
What it's like to ride the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Main St. Provisions is coming to the Arts District - VIDEO
Kim Owens talks about her new Arts District restaurant, Main Street Provisions, which is under construction. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Artist Wayne Littlejohn on “Spin Baby” - VIDEO
Wayne Littlejohn’s sculpture celebrates Las Vegas entertainers. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiësto headlines CES 2020 closing party at Hakkasan Nightclub - VIDEO
Tiesto performs for CES conventioneers and clubgoers during the DreamlandXR Closing Night Party at Hakkasan Nightclub at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip in the early hours of Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Locals cheer on James Holzhauer at 'Jeopardy!' watch party - VIDEO
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But James Holzhauer would have a better chance at winning “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament if Ken Jennings would stop copying his aggressive betting strategy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drake's first show of 2020 at XS Nightclub in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Drake performs at the indoor/outdoor XS and Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ceremony held for Elvis artist Trent Carlini - VIDEO
A ceremony was held for Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini on Wednesday night at The Space in Las Vegas. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Small appliances unveiled in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The small appliances on show at Sands Expo at CES 2020 in Las Vegas include a Keurig cocktail maker, autonomous cooking system, nitrogen coffee ampules and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Impossible Foods debuts Impossible Pork in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Before a packed press conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods executives introduced Impossible Pork, its newest product. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lady Gaga joins her band leader at his after-hours show - VIDEO
After finishing her “Jazz + Piano” show at Park Theater, Lady Gaga joined her band leader Brian Newman for a rousing version of "Fly Me to the Moon" during his show at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip after midnight on New Year's Day, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Brian Newman rings in 2020 at NoMad at Park MGM - VIDEO
Brian Newman, bandleader for Lady Gaga, performs at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
THE LATEST
Things to do this week in Las Vegas

Looking for something to do in the Las Vegas Valley? We’ve got you covered. Check out our best bets for the weekend and week ahead.

Rapper Pop Smoke slain in Hollywood Hills, reports say

An up-and-coming rapper known as Pop Smoke was fatally shot during a break-in early Wednesday at a Hollywood Hills home, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing an unidentified law enforcement source.