Eminem proved he’s a tired and creatively bankrupt artist last night. How? Well, he performed at the Oscars, rapping “Lose Yourself” to a mostly bemused audience of overpaid prima donnas.
Understandably, Eminem’s performance of the lead single from his 2002 autobiographical film, “8 Mile,” confused the Oscar crowd. But it’s not confusion that’s the real story of this performance.
Rather, by finally performing the track which won the Best Original Song Oscar back in 2003, Eminem confirmed two things: 1) that his best days are behind him and 2) that his career now rests almost entirely on nostalgia.
Eminem released a new album this year, “Music to Be Murdered By.” But rather than seeking to perform and promote tracks from this underwhelming record, he realized his best strategy is to jump on the Oscars bandwagon and whip out one of the classics. To remind us that he used to write good songs. And to distract us from the fact that he no longer writes good ones.
To be fair to America’s self-absorbed Hollywood royalty, much of the audience at the Nth Academy Awards (sic) didn’t really appreciate being a prop in Eminem’s nostalgia-fest. Most notably, Idina Menzel summed up the general mood with her priceless reaction:
Then there was Martin Scorsese. Having failed to win any significant award for The Irishman , he was obviously a bit peeved. Needless to say, Eminem’s performance only added insult to injury.
Of course, causing mild bewilderment isn’t the worst thing about Eminem’s performance. No, the worst thing is that it confirms everyone’s worst fears about the rapper. Namely, Eminem is a dried-up old hack who needs 18-year-old songs and a captive audience of mutual backscratchers to remain relevant.
In fact, his performance confirms that he has become everything he has ever hated. Back in 2002, Eminem released “Without Me.” In it, he treated fellow artist Moby to a homophobic and ageist rant :
And Moby? You can get stomped by Obie
You 36-year-old baldheaded f**, blow me
You don’t know me, you’re too old, let go
It’s over, nobody listens to techno
Much the same can now be said for Eminem. He’s 47, rather than 36, so he must obviously be “too old.” So to take his own advice, he should really let go. Because it’s over for him too. Nobody listens to Eminem.
Obviously, Eminem is a hypocrite. If he listened to his own advice, he would have retired at 36, at the latest. But actually, he has always relied on hypocrisy, on controversy, and on being a loudmouthed attention-seeker. And now he relies on nostalgia.
Eminem may have recorded a few good songs over the past couple of decades. But his need to diss people and cause offence reveals that his music has never been strong enough on its own to sustain his career. Sadly, his Oscars performance shows that even the lingering controversy he generates isn’t strong enough anymore. All he has now is nostalgia.
“Remember when I won an Oscar?” he asks. Well, judging by the confused reaction of the Oscars audience, it seems that some people don’t actually remember. And make no mistake, in a few years’ time most of us will have forgotten him entirely. Lose yourself.