The Eminem Paradox
By DJ Dadmagnet and DJ Detweiler
With illustrations by Josemi te lo Pinta
DJ Detweiler turned off the light, and made himself comfortable in the Frozen bed set he bought at Disneyland LA. He closed his beautiful, childlike eyes and sank into a candy-floss slumber. His dreams began as they always do, a rainbow of animal gifs and self-aware memes about depression. But this time, something was wrong. As his heart rate slowed he drifted into new realms of his subconscious. The colours drained from the rainbow and the sneezing pandas melted into pixels before his grasping and useless hands. His eyes flickered, and he found himself in a bright, white, featureless plane. He stood in a void that was infinite and without beginning, for here, in the depths of his mind, there was nothing.
He floated for millennia, his thoughts nebulous and tangential. What was this place? Would I ever get home? Where is my body? From the void, a voice spoke. This voice was not sound, but pure thought that froze his amoebic drifting.
“Wake up DJ Detweiler, and answer these questions” boomed the voice. “How have you become such an important and prodigious celebrity? How have you come to wield such power and influence in the music industry? How can you be the genius you so undeniably are... but at the same time be so miserable and stupid?”
Detweiler pulled his fleeting synapses together and answered, for the first time in a thousand ethereal dream-years.
“ermmmm – i don’t know, did you just insult me?” He stammered. “i guess its because i play the best music ever and im the best producer in the planet, maybe?” Detweiler wrinkled his nose into the void, with the disdain of a child actor justifying a dinner of ice cream and M&Ms.
A pregnant silence followed. An intake of empty wind and the voice groaned back:
“#Ohmydays Det, you are trolling me. Did you actually just say ‘best music’?”
Reeling, Detweiler tripped over words like wet oak logs: “Wha... yes I said best, what’s wrong?”
“You are a genius, Detweiler, but you are not God. Do you actually think some kinds of music can be better than others? How can music be ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Do you think music has an essence that can be observed and valued? Do you think music can be collected and measured and filed away in a cabinet like dry, scientific specimens? What’s wrong with you Detweiler? I thought you were an intelligent person.”
“...LOL, no...i just...that’s not...”
“Detweiler, let me tell you something that you must never forget, a lesson that you will take with you to the end of your days on this earth. All music is peng, Detweiler! There is no such thing as good or bad music, or best or worst music. Music is music, and that is the final truth. If you think the music you listen to is better than other people’s music, you are being a fucking snob Detweiler! And let me tell you, I have been around the universe, to the birth of time and back again, and it is a short step from snobbery to fascism. Are you a fascist, Detweiler?”
“No, no... of course I’m not a fa…”
“Listen Detweiler. In this post-postmodern world people only passively absorb culture. The arts, TV shows, buying Apple products, being vegan, growing a beard, or whatever other hobbies people choose to have. Nobody creates their life, and the majority of what makes you you is just soaked up from elsewhere. You humans are very simple. You take every single experience you’ve ever had and you place it in a blender. This could be a pestle and mortar chiselled out of bakelite or it could be a Nutribullet™, 2015’s hottest nutrition extractor. The point is that this blender is your memory, and it smashes and combines everything you feel and think into a delicious personality smoothie.
“Now Detweiler, I like you. That’s why I have visited you in this crude, biological form. You don’t hate on other people and in many ways you are ahead of your time. But you could do much more than this if you just broke out of your “rational” human thought-processes and acknowledged your place in a vast and unknowable universe. And that means breaking this habit of thinking about things as “good” or “bad”.
And here comes the drop:
You humans take a randomly selected sliver of content from the outside world and you view the rest with suspicion. You create cliches and stereotypes about everything that you can’t – or won’t – appreciate. These things seem different, even dangerous to your fragile sense of self. Guarding the entrances to your cave-like brains, you try to choose what goes in and never open up its damp interior to the bright lights and fresh air of the outside world. You are safe in your comfort zone, and outside of it is a frightening world of danger, bewilderment, or idiotic distraction. Whether this comfort zone is harsh noise, marxist politics or bangin’ donks, it is your comfort zone – and it will one day leave you impoverished and unfulfilled.”
Detweiler was stunned. “I... I don’t think i understand...”
“lmao humans”. The voice sighed with an amused frustration. “I will make you understand. I will show you how to embrace the universe and forget about your silly, narrow-minded preferences. Let's call this lesson The Eminem Paradox. It’s not technically a paradox, but the name sounds good in your ears. Let's repeat it one more time: The Eminem Paradox.
“Imagine that you hate Eminem. You hate him so much. You say things like: “OMG, I can’t understand why he is so popular”, and “I can't believe that douche is everywhere” and “Eminem fans are stupid and uncultured”. You remember the “good old days” of hip-hop, where rappers had talent and didn’t just talk about shit and blood. You have heard some feminists complain about his lyrics, and even though you have only a vague understanding of feminism you cite their arguments when you complain about him. And in your mind you are right to hate him, because your taste in music is subtle and nuanced and Eminem isn’t. For you, this becomes a fact.
“Years later, you are having a good day. You tell your partner – let’s call them ‘Leslie’ – that you love them more than everything in the world combined, and you get ready to propose to them. You have been preparing this moment for months, and everything is perfect, down to the tiniest detail. You take them to the amusements, where you first met, where you won that giant teddy bear – the teddy bear that stands on top of your TV as a symbol of your undying love. You take a deep breath and amongst the chatter of the 2p machines and the video games you say: ‘Leslie, you are peng. Will you marry me?’
“There are two seconds of silence, and FOR SOME FUCKING REASON EMINEM STARTS BLASTING ON THE PA really loudly.
“But they jump with a huge smile and shout ‘Yes! Yes I will marry you! Or enter into a civil partnership if you prefer!’
“#OMD! What are these mixed feelings, my love and my hate at once. This is the best moment of your life but what the fuck? How can I be so happy whilst listening to this crap? OMG I can’t believe they said yes....”
“From this moment onwards, every time you hear Eminem you will remember the day your partner agreed to the legal contract of marriage, and the warm memories of that day will erase the hatred of Eminem that you felt before. That song makes you smile when you hear it on the radio. You and Leslie play it on your anniversary and slow-dance under the stars, laughing into the wind and feeling the soft flick of each others hair on your cheeks. In years to come you will name your first son Marshall, and your friends will buy you 8 Mile on special edition collector's Blu-Ray.”
“#OMG now I understand, all music is peng!” shouted Detweiler from the cavern of his psyche.
“Of course Detweiler, all music is peng. Now, let's not be snobs; let’s embrace all music
because ultimately music is just waves that travel through space and are converted by your brain into electrical signals. And who are we to hate waves? To call vibrating molecules ‘commercial and gay’? To label physics with the infantile baggage of your petty human culture?
What kind of quantum racism is this, to privilege some phenomena and deny others?
Has humankind forgotten what it is? Has it forgotten that music does not exist outside of its own meagre comprehension? That taste, time and content are not immutable or transcendent, but specific to our species and our experience? There is no truth to music, no good or bad or up or down. There is only peng - as empty or as full as your mind will allow it to become. So enjoy music, Detweiler. Enjoy all of it. Remember The Eminem Paradox, and remember the invented boundaries of your imagination, those false and irrelevant boundaries that limit who you are and who you can be. Hate nothing, and listen to the world anew.”
With that, the voice stopped, and Detweiler hurtled back up through the layers of his mind to his Disney-brand bed. His pyjamas were soaking and his heart thumped in his throat. Was it all a dream? Or something more?
Detweiler looked around his room, and he knew the world was different now. He knew that he must offer his vision to the rest of the world, to the culture-hungry public, to the trend-setting cool-hunters, to all you stupid DJs and your stupid fucking dubplates.
The phone rang. It was Detweiler’s best friend and male role model, DJ Dadmagnet. “Det!” said Dad, excitedly. “I just had the most amazing dream, this weird voice was telling me about this thing called The Westlife Paradox and then I...” “The Westlife Paradox?” interrupted Detweiler, “I thought it was Eminem…” At that moment DJ Dadmagnet’s voice morphed into that alien, resonating tone that spoke beyond the telephone, vibrating through the fossilised atoms of his body:
“it doesn’t matter whose paradox it is; it’s all peng anyway, remember?”
The room span and melted, and DJ Detweiler woke up.