He's known as a misogynist, a satirist, a jokester, an attention-seeking bad boy, a creep, an artistic genius, and a man with a history of addiction and abuse. She's known as a diva, a self-proclaimed "good girl gone bad," a brilliant performer, and a survivor of violent assault by her equally famous ex-boyfriend.
When Eminem and Rihanna teamed up to perform a wrenching song about a violent relationship, people were fascinated, disturbed, thrilled, angry, triggered, impressed, affirmed, upset, and unsure. Whatever your personal reaction to the song, there's no question that "Love the Way You Lie" caused people to throw out a lot of strong adjectives.
When "Love the Way You Lie" was released, fans went nuts. Bloggers went nuts. YouTube went nuts. What is happening in this song, people asked? Does it condemn dating violence, or glorify it? Is it about catharsis for Rihanna, or excuses for Eminem? Is it a piece of thoughtful artistic reflection, or something more closely related to Eminem's longstanding enthusiasm for shocking the media?
And what about the good-looking actors and hard-hitting plot of the wildly popular music video? There's so much to talk about here that we're going to stop talking now so we can get on with it.
|Artist||Eminem & Rihanna|
|Writer(s)||Eminem (Marshall Mathers), A. Grant, H. Hafferman|
|Producer(s)||Alex da Kid, Makeba Riddick|
|Musician(s)||Eminem (vocals), Rihanna (vocals)|
|Learn to play||Piano|
The Notorious B.I.G.
Eminem, The Way I Am (2008)
This is Marshall Mathers' colorful autobiography. Although it stays pretty shallow at times, it's still a worthwhile view of the rapper's private life from his own perspective.
Paul Hegstrom, Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them: Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse (2004)
Hegstrom, a former abuser charged with the attempted murder of his ex-wife, reconciles his past and speaks directly to abusers about how they can and must change.
Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, The Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology (2006)
This anthology written by women of color gives more depth and breadth to the question of violence in women's lives.
Maria Ochoa and Barbara K. Ige, Shout Out! Women of Color Respond to Violence Against Women (2008)
If Rihanna's public statements left you wanting more words from people who have been there themselves, this powerful anthology is a good place to start.
Eminem, Recovery (2010)
Eminem on suicide, recovery, abuse, and how his last album kinda stunk.
Eminem, Relapse (2009)
The prequel to Recovery wasn't as powerful a comeback for Eminem as Recovery was, possibly thanks to its continued attachment to pointless violence.
Rihanna, Rated R (2009)
This was Rihanna's first album after the Chris Brown incident, and represented an experimentation with many musical styles.
Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad, Reloaded (2008)
Rihanna's album was a series of hit singles, and Reloaded includes some newer bonus tracks.
Recovery Album Cover
A little emo, yes, but you can't expect much different from Eminem.
Recovery Cover Two
Eminem sits in front of the Detroit skyline in a living room with glass walls. Profound, or melodramatic?
Good Girl Gone Bad was just the beginning of Rihanna's new image.
Rated R Album Cover
It's a serious, serious look.
8 Mile (2002)
Eminem's semi-autobiographical film cemented his rise to hip-hop and pop-cultural superstar.
Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women
This resource is especially intentional about providing resources for men as well as women who are abused. Although women are the majority, men who are abused are often overlooked.
That's Not Cool
A smart, youth-driven site with lots of detailed information about how to support people in abusive relationships—including those who are abusive. If you've ever wondered why someone didn't leave, this is a good place to start reading up.
Break the Cycle
A website by and about young people working to end dating violence.
Alex Pates and Ansheera Ace Hilliard, "Beyond Chris Brown and Rihanna," Chicago Tribune (2009)
An article by two young women breaks down myths and realities about domestic violence as they are reflected in the media response to Rihanna's assault by Chris Brown.
Mike Rubin, "The Sins and Sorrows of Marshall Mathers," SPIN (2000)
This is the best we've seen in terms of an up close and personal view of the harsh, contradictory image of Eminem.
"Love the Way You Lie" Music Video
Ever since its debut as the biggest 24-hour YouTube hit ever, it's kind of unbelievable how many people have watched this video.
Eminem, "Not Afraid" (2010)
Like in "Love the Way You Lie," Eminem opens up and shows his vulnerable side on this song, to powerful effect.
Eminem, "When I'm Gone" (2005)
This is a confessional in somewhat the same format as "Love the Way You Lie." The video depicts Eminem in an A.A. or other recovery meeting, confessing his problems and recounting his nightmares about being neglectful of his daughter and abusing his ex-wife.
Rihanna, "Rude Boy" (2009)
This work from Rihanna is lyrically down and dirty, and the video is a display of the singer's unusual propensity for looking good in all sorts of wacky fashion, including a zebra outfit.
Rihanna, "Hate That I Love You" (2007)
This song off her 2007 album describes a conflicted, stressful relationship—but the video imagines it as two unknown strangers' fantasies about each other.
Rihanna, "Umbrella" (2007)
Her biggest hit probably requires no introduction.