Rapper Eminem built his career on the shock value of his incendiary lyrics, so some find it funny that critics on TikTok are “trying to cancel Eminem.” The rapper has employed bigotry, threats of violence and personal attacks for decades now, including graphic descriptions of highly personal criminal fantasies. To some, that almost insulates him, in a way, from today’s common form of unironic social media scrutiny.
Eminem has been “canceled” often throughout his career, depending on how you define the term. He has faced criticism from parents, politicians and advocacy groups, and been blamed for the violent actions of his fans over the years. In general, this has never affected his popularity or his bottom line in the long term, and it has led some fans to feel that he is virtually invincible. Many are treating this new round of “cancellation” as a generational thing, pinning it on TikTok and “Gen Z” in particular.
I wanna cancel eminem out of spite now pic.twitter.com/IehdeXCvH5
— bisexual tanjiro (@chairn0izes) March 2, 2021
Eminem has made waves since his very earliest musical releases, which took a shock-jock approach to gain attention. In 1997 his first major studio album, The Slim Shady LP, featured the song “http://popculture.com/”97 Bonnie and Clyde,” where he narrated his fantasy of murdering his wife and having his toddler-aged daughter help him hide her corpse. The follow-up, 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP, featured “Kim,” an even more violent fantasy about murdering his wife in real-time.
The controversies are by no means restricted to his earlier work, either. Even in his most recent releases, domestic violence remains a constant theme in Eminem’s lyrics, and homophobic and ableist slurs persist as well.
Some of Eminem’s defenders tried to frame these controversies in the past tense, but many others simply said that controversy was a part of his brand, and could not be taken too seriously. Throughout all these online discussions it was hard to judge who was serious and who being ironic. Scroll down to see the latest debates about Eminem’s lyrics for yourself.
Does she not remember when WE tried to cancel Eminem as well? His entire career kind of depends on having “haters” and whatnot. We’re all just trying to fuel his next project lol
— Olympus has fallen and it can’t get up (@AndySunshine) March 2, 2021
Eminem once said:
“I can’t understand a word you say (I’m tone-deaf)
I think this way I prefer to stay (I’m tone-deaf)
I won’t stop even when my hair turns grey (I’m tone-deaf)
‘Cause they won’t stop until they cancel me” pic.twitter.com/9OyeDvTwZD
— Tina (@Tina_Shadyy) March 2, 2021
For better or worse, many users argued that Eminem thrives in a state of constant cancellation, and has done so since the 1990s. Any attempt to “cancel” him cannot be taken genuinely, by their logic, since it will only fuel his defenders and his personal narrative.
and still eminem outsold his whole discography with the worst album he dropped in his career in 2017 lol
— macthonystantano (@macthonystanta1) March 2, 2021
Many users brought up the views other celebrities — particularly rappers — have of Eminem, holding them up as evidence of his cancellation status. Defenders then compared those stars’ record sales and other metrics to that of Eminem.
THE SECOND HAND EMBARRASSMENT I GOT https://t.co/oZIoW0oMIy
— ✿ – ruby (@rubyflamezz) March 2, 2021
Others did not argue with Eminem defenders, but pitied them, saying there was “second-hand embarrassment” involved.
Yall trying to cancel Eminem forget that you definitely listened to at least one of his tracks growing up. He made it through multiple rap eras and now yall wanna bring back his old lyrics? 😂😂 the 🐐 lives rent free in yalls heads.
— James-Extend Justin Simmons (@XJimboJxx) March 2, 2021
Gen Z should know by now that some people are above cancelling. Media been trying to cancel Eminem long before cancelling was a thing. He came out in ’99 and his first words were “Hi kids, do you like violence” nd still enjoyed 22 years in the game. That’s who you want to cancel? pic.twitter.com/d5t9wcFZd6
— Ephraim (@EphraimTalker) March 2, 2021
Some Eminem defenders pointed out his longevity in the music industry, citing that as an accomplishment in and of itself. Detractors pointed to other rap music sensations who have done the same, with less controversy along the way.
this is why we need to cancel eminem pic.twitter.com/mr73J81Hcy
— cummunist (@_novakaine) March 2, 2021
Ignoring his problematic moments, some joked that Eminem should be “canceled” for his worst lyrics. Fans and detractors alike had fun sharing their least favorite lines from Eminem songs and freestyles.
People want to cancel Eminem?
For song lyrics? 💀😂
— Maria Rose (@mareea_rose) March 1, 2021
Some users defended Eminem’s most outrageous lyrics as nothing more than words, and argued that they should not be taken so seriously.
as a millennial who has tried and failed to cancel Eminem I wish gen z the best of luck
— a little unstimulating (@softbutchicon) March 2, 2021
Aside from being unbelievably cringe, this ignores the fact that we millennials ALSO tried to “cancel” Eminem, insofar as that means anything (it doesn’t). https://t.co/Q3kC351Qy2
— Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman) March 2, 2021
Finally, many users wish Gen Z at large good luck in successfully canceling Eminem, warning that others had tried and failed. Still, they thought maybe the new generation could pull it off. However, at the time of this writing, Eminem has not lost any record deals or sponsorships over this latest retroactive cancellation campaign.