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“Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?”: Masking Whiteness, Encoding Hegemonic Masculinity in Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP

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Abstract:

In this article, I analyze the critically and commercially successful rap album by Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000). Eminem's impact on popular culture is due to his controversial status and his critical and commercial success worldwide. To understand Eminem's significance in rhetoric and cultural studies, I examine the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality and how these four constructions necessarily converge in the postmodern condition to rearticulate, in the case of Eminem's rap lyrics, a cultural fiction of white heterosexual masculinity/masculinities. Eminem is able to “universalize” himself discursively through his rap lyrics by marketing himself as the universal subject, the ultimate shape shifter who cannot be pinned down. This makes Eminem's discursive presentation the ultimate performance in white masculinity because he accomplishes “authenticity” by occupying the “in-betweenness” of race, gender, and class boundaries through constant contradiction.

Keywords: Eminem; class; gender; hip hop; masculinity; race; rap; sexuality; whiteness

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10646170500326558

Affiliations: University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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