Last Thursday, Maria posted about the Dolly Parton challenge which like most challenges is just an excuse to shamelessly post more pictures of yourself. But in some cases, it was also the opportunity to adapt and modify the format. Like Eminem’s version:
Of course, there’s a history here. Two years ago, in an interview with Vulture, Eminem spoke about dating and how he used apps like Tinder and Grindr to meet people. At the time, everyone was like “ummmm is Eminem gay?” When it became evident that that probably wasn’t the case, everyone thought that maybe Eminem didn’t know that Grindr was exclusively for gay and bisexual men. Finally, it just seemed to be a weak attempt at either a joke or a way to generate buzz and controversy.
This is part two of the saga. Once again, we’re sat here wondering what all of this means. It’s pretty clear now that Eminem knows what Grindr is, and that so far, we haven’t seen much evidence to suggest that Eminem is into guys. Using the Dolly Parton challenge would be a strange way of coming out. Also, anyone who is actually on Grindr knows that an image like that wouldn’t even get approved as a profile picture. That’s what you save on your camera roll for other uses....
Just like last time, it seems to be some sort of joke or publicity stunt and not an admission of bisexuality or even a suggestion in that direction. As Kathleen wrote two years ago, “If Marshall really doesn’t use Grindr to find dates, he shouldn’t be so flippant about a community he caused significant pain to in the past.” Eminem still hasn’t earned the right to pull a stunt like this or use a joke about Grindr. He hasn’t acknowledged his harmful use of slurs and has gone so far as to attack LGBTQ+ artists in his songs.
So why do it? Maybe, it’s because Eminem, like many artists and comedians, thinks controversy passes for actual artistic thought and genuine reflection. That shock value is more important than properly dissecting the issues it claims to provoke.
Most likely, it’s about timing. Eminem dropped a surprise album on January 17th called Music to Be Murdered By which, according to Pitchfork, is just alright. Yesterday, The New York Times announced that the new album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Top 10 last week.
I’m not saying that posting a controversial version of a meme led to a rise in the album’s position on the charts. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the timing of that is impossible. But Eminem is on album promotion mode so I don’t think it’s farfetched to claim that he could be leveraging previous clickbait headlines and surefire controversy to generate buzz about himself and his new album. That’s the sentiment that we see represented in his statement to his critics.
So, no Eminem, in response to your original question, you didn’t do this right. Using the gay community as a publicity stunt, as fodder for album promotion, or as the butt of a joke is not right. The LGBTQ+ community is not at your disposal to both poke fun in verses AND leverage on Twitter for some laughs.
But maybe the best reaction came from Grindr itself:
And that’s that on queerbaiting.