Happy Mother's Day, Debbie Mathers

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Eminem’s latest video, “Headlights,” is not just another Mama missive. It’s a bold condemnation of our personalized, “if you like this you’ll like that,” world.

As I explain in my book about Eminem, The Real Slim Shady's world is one that overexposes the people in it to familiar ideas and makes them overconfident in their own ways of thinking about things.

The result? Isolation. We avoid listening to life’s four letter words and fail to engage meaningfully with the people who use them for fear of what we might learn.

“Headlights” is about placing ourselves in contact with ways of thinking and behaving that are unlike our own. It’s about risk, rejection, regret and misunderstanding. It’s about the conviction to embrace what we fear and, by consequence, what we can do. But it’s more than that. It’s also about how some people deal with a macho, angry world.

When I hear songs like “Headlights” I recognize that Eminem is continuing to challenge a world that doesn’t allow men to voice their weaknesses or hurts directly. Too often, women have to do it for them and then pay a price for telling the truth. “Headlights,” visualized from the perspective of a woman, also reminds us that the world doesn’t allow women to challenge the lies they’re told without physical or emotional cost. That challenge is the role Eminem’s Mom took on in his music over 15 years ago, and she has borne it well. The Debbie Mathers we know, a blend of fiction and fact, renders this choked-up, sadomasochistic world visible and has contributed to some of the most vital art of our time. And for that she should be thanked. Happy Mother's Day, Debbie!!