I Love the Way Eminem and Rihanna are Getting People Talking About Domestic Violence

I’ve noticed that a lot of kids have their ring tones set to the Eminem/Rihanna song “Love the Way You Lie.” Shouldn’t be a big surprise, really, since the song is burning up all sorts of charts.  Ring tones are funny things in that they’re a way for people to kind of personalize themselves publicly via their cell phone.  However, it got me wondering if these kids have any idea of the deeper meaning here.

Okay, gotta tell you, love this song.  I bought Eminem’s CD (the first CD I’ve bought in eons … damn, when did they get so expensive?) because my iTunes account is all frigged up, and “Love the Way You Lie” was a major reason.  Not the only reason (I love Marshall Mathers Slim Shady Eminem), but a big one.

Domestic abuse is a serious problem, and one that both Eminem and Rihanna unfortunately have experience with.  They are not posers spouting off on a topic to make themselves sound tough.  It’s really kind of heartbreaking, if you think about it.

Anyway, I see this song (check out the lyrics here) as an opportunity to have a conversation about the violence that occurs in relationships … and especially the potential tragic consequences.

Rihanna recently …

spoke to Access Hollywood about the collaboration.  From NBC New York:

“It was something that needed to be done,” Rihanna told Access Hollywood about the song’s theme, an abusive relationship.

“And the way he did it was so clever,” the singer with the dramatic new red do said.  “He (Eminem) basically just broke down the cycle of domestic violence, and it’s something that a lot of people don’t have a lot of insight on.”

I put Eminem in the Tupac Shakur school of musicians who rap poetry that is largely ignored by the masses because of explicit language.  If you look at the themes and the emotions expressed by both Shakur and Eminem, there is a great deal to be gleaned from their works.

In my opinion, Shakur was never able to effectively earn the acceptance and respect of the masses (although I dare anyone to listen to “Shorty Wanna Be a Thug” and not feel something), Eminem might well have pulled it off with “Love the Way You Lie.”  Dr. Jays discusses how the song “transcends Eminem fans (and any other rap fans, for that matter) and touches on a topic that everyone out there, even those who once hated him, will be able to appreciate.”

From Dr. Jays:

There’s arguing, domestic violence, apologies and (eventually) a resolution that those within these types of romantic relationships are probably all too familiar with. Despite the subject matter, Em doesn’t pull any punches (no pun intended, obviously) and does a nice job of driving home the point that domestic violence is a vicious cycle.

The reason it works, though—and the reason I’d say “Love The Way You Lie” is Em’s most important track to date—is that he sends a clear message about domestic violence without making it so blatant that you’re forced to hit the “Next Track” button. It’s as if Em and Rih-Rih have tricked us into thinking about domestic violence in our society. There’s no intro or outro with Em addressing the subject matter. There’s no bridge where Rihanna breaks down in tears and sings her heart out. They just let the song speak for itself.

And it does.  This is one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard, and I am passionate about all sorts of  music.  The words are extraordinarily powerful, and Rihanna’s refrain of “Just gonna stand there and watch me burn, but that’s alright because I like the way it hurts/ Just gonna stand there and hear me cry, but that’s alright because I love the way you lie” is one that a veritable legion of women can relate to.

Interspersed with that painful and tragically accurate chorus is a look into the head of a guy that abuses … and Eminem, characteristically, doesn’t hold back a bit.

It’s as if he’s saying, “Here’s all the twisted thoughts that go through the mind of someone that batters a female—are you sure this is what you want? And are you sure that you’re ready to go through this over…and over…and over again if it is?”

By adding Rihanna—who struggled through domestic violence with her former boyfriend Chris Brown—the song becomes more believable, too. It’s the type of track that will do more than just become a hit on the radio. It’ll give girls (and guys) in troubled relationships something to think about. It’ll get played at schools and shelters and on the radio and generate discussion. It’ll make a difference.

You know, I think it really could.  If kids blaring this song from their car stereos listen to the words, perhaps they might take something away from it.  If those who write off Eminem as some guy who makes millions of dollars by swearing into a microphone gave it a chance, they could as well.

I’m not super-thrilled about the music video, which features Megan Fox, Dominic Monaghan (yes, the hobbit), and fire, but part of me thinks that everyone should listen to this song.  Its value in today’s society cannot be overstated, and I’m very serious on that one.

So let’s open this up to the subject of domestic violence, a problem that all too often flies beneath the radar.  Does the prolific nature of “Love the Way You Lie” make it a springboard for valuable discussion?

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12 thoughts on “I Love the Way Eminem and Rihanna are Getting People Talking About Domestic Violence

  1. I love this song.
    The first time that I heard it, I was sitting in a hotel room, reading “The Girl Who Played With Fire. I had Pandora radio on and I was only mildly interested at first. I actually thought it was Hayley Williams at first (Airplanes with B.o.B.) When I copped on to the lyrics, my gut froze.
    It was like looking at a beautiful flower, then on closer inspection – you discover that the center is filled with rot and maggots.

    Such a powerful reaction. But, I agree with you. The message here is one of those that can’t be put across delicately. I think that anyone listening to it will initially be drawn in by the beauty of her voice and the great arrangement. Eminem is amazingly talented.

    • I just bought the first book after hearing you guys talk about it here. I’m almost done with another series, then I’m starting on this one.

  2. The books so far – I’m saving the last one for this week end, are a roller coaster. Heart breaking and uplifting.

    I am so sad that Larsson has died, although his life partner supposedly has the 4th book (partially finished). All I can do is hope. I’m still rather torn about allowing my daughters to read them. The 18 year old will probably be fine, but my soon-to-be-16 year old may have nightmares.

    I have to mention that my girls are angry with you because I spent a large part of our vacation sitting up all night reading!

  3. Please apologize to your kiddos for me … my kids get so mad at me when I get entrenched in books (which happens pretty much every day ;-)). I’m so glad you’re not disappointed in the books … and I hadn’t heard that about a potential fourth book. You totally made my day :-)!!!!!!!!!

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  7. Rihanna is the best singer in the world. Amazing vocals. Rihanna dresses like no-one else. Girl can really pick the best looking clothes for her! Rihanna gave me an autograph outside HMV once and wow that made me smile nonstop for days. Haters are just jealous green-eyed monsters who do not know her in person. She is Gods gift to the world and people are blessed to experience her gifts.

  8. im eminem know sophie stevens and her family are my biggest fan you better respect them shes only 8 but respect her still (p.s you better love my songs i love rihanna is cute with er new hair style) (CCUUTTEE SEXY) kim is better then rihanna though. lol hahaha

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