One of my stepdaughters gets frantic when she hears Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" come on the radio. Me? I think Eminem is a talented artist, though I'm clearly not in his target audience and wouldn't want to touch one of his CD's without a pair of HazMat gloves.
But just because I don't buy something doesn't mean it doesn't get into my house, or in my car, or in my family (as evidenced by the fact that at lease one daughter already knows the lyrics by heart and can recite them without notice, even knowing when to self-censor).
A friend recently asked on my Facebook page for my opinion of the the video for this song.
"How do you feel about this video?" my friend wrote. "Is it positive because teens are talking about dating violence or does it send a mixed msg? Let me know how you feel!"
The video features vocals by Eminem and singer Rihanna, famous not only for her talent but also for the violent turn taken in her relationship with Chris Brown. The actors in the central story are Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings) and Megan Fox (Transformers). Monaghan and Fox portray lovers locked in a violent relationship. See it for yourself.
(Warning: this video is uncensored and contains a couple of f-bombs).
At first I agreed that the video does send a mixed message: The fact that the story is told by a lying piece of garbage was, I thought, just a hint too subtle for a teenage audience that is more likely to absorb the "violent relationships are smoking HOT" visuals that accompany the music.
But I give them credit for the ending: the lovers and their home are consumed in flames, an obvious metaphor showing that the violence will end up destroying them both.
Our kids are going to hear this song in their bedrooms, on their iPods, and at school: we're not going to shield them from it, no matter how hard we try. And they will see the video, just as easily. So we need to, as parents, take control of the conversation.
Take it as a given that your kid is going to HEAR the song, but implore them to go a step further: make sure they LISTEN to it. Make sure they understand that Eminem (the narrator) is the villain of the piece, that he's not cool, that he's a liar and that the heat of passion is no substitute for the warmth of love.
And make sure they understand that ending.
UPDATE: The same friend who brought this video to my attention let me know that Megan Fox donated her appearance fee for the video to a shelter for abused women. Kudos! Find Sun Sentinel writer Rafael Olmeda on Facebook and Twitter.