Monday, February 27, 2006

Poor Michigan

It is necessary to add one more thing to my list of cultural imports that Germany does not need from America: the movie, 8 Mile. This has nothing to do with cultural snobbery and everything to do with painting a bad picture of my beloved Michigan and confusing people. I think most Americans who even cared to see the movie, saw it as a realistic fiction about a rapper from Detroit who is odd. Whatever, there are lots of strange Americans; that what makes the country work, move on!

I bring this up because most unfortunately the movie was shown on German television last night. FABULOUS... sit down with the kids on Sunday night and watch a movie about violence and an idiotic little white guy from Detroit. Today at work someone mentioned that she watched the movie, which then led my colleagues actually analyzed the story. "Erin, how dangerous is 8 Mile Road? Does everyone know Eminem in the US? Did he really grow up in a trailer park?"

"He hates his mother," said one colleague. "Really, his anger comes from the fact that he hates himself," said the head of the department. Of all the news I have heard about Marshall Mathers, a psycho-analysis has not been a topic!

In some strange way, the fact that someone who had a rough beginning, made it big, and now lives in a giant house in one of the country's wealthiest counties, is an American success story. Furthermore, as an American, he has the right to make whatever kind of movie he wants. But hearing my colleagues reaction to the movie really makes me aware of how American pop culture influences how people perceive the country.


At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the criticism of this film. As to whether it is a good or bad portrayal of what it is like to live in America or to be an American, it is this man's story and has just as much of a right to be told as any other. Personally, I saw the film, and thought it was pretty inspiring. It made me appreciate the comparably comfortable upbringing that I had. AB

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. I also think that he is a very talented musician. Forget about the lyrics (yes, they are angry, get over it) and just focus on the rhythmic structure -- it is brilliant, especially for someone without any formal musical training! -- AB

At 4:11 AM, Blogger Erin said...

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should admit that I have not seen the film. (Though I might consider seeing it when I get back.)

What I find difficult is that I will see the movie to see the movie and I know how it fits into the larger scheme of America. My experience has been that foreigners are so curious about the US that one movie has the power create an overall image that is not accurate. I don't actually believe the movie should not be imported, but it is hard to know that a foreigner might create an image of the country based on such a film.

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your analysis of how amazing it is to see people in Germany reacting to an American film and making assumptions about life in America from what is protrayed on the screen is spot on.

You should, however, see 8 Mile. Both Niki and I watched it and thought it was great. I do think that what was protrayed on the screen was a fairly accurate protrayal of life in that class in Detroit. Whether Mr. Mathers truly came from that class, I don't know, though . . .


P.S. Yes, his lyrics are angry. DO NOT listen to his music while stuck in traffic in LA. It only makes you MORE ANGRY.

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