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.
Rihanna recently …
“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.”
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?