“Darkness.” It’s Eminem’s new song, accompanied by a video that graphically re-enacts the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, on the Las Vegas Strip.
It’s how the rapper envisioned the shooter’s mindset on that night, as he sits in a hotel room surrounded by pill bottles and alcohol.
When the clock shows 10:05 p.m., Eminem turns into the mass shooter, becoming an older man and breaking a window to unleash his fury on the unsuspecting concertgoers at the Las Vegas Village venue below.
“Finger on the trigger, but I’m a licensed owner with no prior convictions, so loss, the sky’s the limit,” he raps. “So my supplies infinite, strapped like I’m a soldier.”
Survivors of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history had a mixed reaction to the surprise release of the video late Thursday. Some considered it a disturbing glorification of the perpetrator, while others said it delivers a message that needs to be heard.
‘He went deep into it’
“At first I was a little upset because I was like holy cow, he went hard, he went deep into it,” said William King, who was shot in the chest that night.
“I understand how that can hurt and affect some people but at the end of the day I’m glad someone is at least talking about it. … These things aren’t going to go away until people actually open up and get controversial.”
King also said the video may bring new attention to the Strip shooting, which he fears has been largely forgotten amid the steady drumbeat of U.S. gun violence.
“I feel like we’ve been kind of swept under the rug,” he said. “When it comes down to it, there’s always going to be evil and evil isn’t going to go away. We just need to get better as a society and take care of each other more and look out for each other.”
Sue Ann Cornwell, a retired Clark County school bus driver who did her best to save one of the victims that night, had never heard of Eminem before the video’s release.
The most disturbing part for her was that the shooter’simage was resurrected by an actor in the video.
“That’s just notoriety to him that’s never going to go away as long as that song is published,” she said. “And if a survivor walks by and it’s being played, it’s a sore subject.”
She emphasized that artists have to “have a little more respect for the victims when they come up with these songs that involve real people,” adding that not all shooting survivors believe in tighter gun laws.
Not speaking for all victims
“They use the footage of that saying with gun control in mind, almost saying that everybody there has the same mentality and the same belief and that’s not true,” she said. “The bigger majority of the people who were at that concert wouldn’t give up their guns for nobody.”
Natalia Baca, 20, was shot in her left buttock. A bullet pierced her twin sister, Gianna’s left shoulder blade. After watching the video, Natalia Baca said she didn’t know how to feel.
“It’s a really good song,” she said. “I feel like he’s on our side, but it’s so hard to watch. He is still proving a point that this is our world today. He crossed the line, but then he didn’t, because it is true. It’s what happened.”
She went on to say that she found parts of the shooting reenactment particularly sickening, because there are still so many unanswered questions surrounding the attack.
“You feel numb because (Eminem) put how he did it in his mind,” she said. “That could have been him, but we’ll never know. That touched a soft spot.”