Eminem and Rihanna cause domestic abuse controversy with “Love the Way You Lie” video

How would you feel watching a domestic abuse victim admit her desire for more pain? What if the cycle of violence were enacted by two celebrities, alternating between scenes of fierce aggression and passionate love?

What if all these images were set to a number-one, radio-friendly rap hit? Would you call it glamorization of a serious issue or a creative public service message?

Never one to shy away from controversy, Eminem recently released the new video for his single featuring Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie.” Starring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan in a (literally) fiery relationship, the video is causing a big debate among music fans and domestic abuse prevention experts.

I have to admit, I’m torn on the matter. My first instinct is to scoff at any form of media that attempts to employ Megan Fox in a meaningful way (she, of the eloquent quotes, like: “I resent having to prove that I’m not a retard — but I do.”).

It also makes me absolutely uneasy to watch Rihanna, who repeatedly spoke out about her abusive relationship with Chris Brown, coo to the camera,

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn

But that’s alright because I like the way it hurts

Just gonna stand there and hear me cry

But that’s alright because I love the way you lie.

And though I can’t deny being a fan of Eminem’s lyrical skills and serious talent, it’s no secret that he’s had his own violent past with ex-wife Kim. The song, allegedly about the couple’s roller-coaster relationship, even includes the disturbing lines, “If she ever tries to f—ing leave again/I’mma tie her to the bed and set the house on fire.”

The thought of MTV’s target audience interpreting the frightening lyrics and engaging images as sexy or glamorous is completely revolting. But to play devil’s advocate, there are some positive points to the video as well.

Though it’s easy to pick on Megan, she performed quite an admirable act by donating her fee for the video to Sojourn, a facility that helps battered women and their children.

And some experts believe that depicting the chilling realities of domestic abuse can help spread awareness. Stephanie Nilva, executive director of sexual assault and trauma resource center Day One, told MTV News, “The most important thing the video is doing is raising the topic of dating violence among young people.”

My own personal jury is still out, but feel free to form your own opinion on the video below:

— Michelle Konstantinovsky is a student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and an avid admirer of shiny objects and preteen entertainment. It would be nice if you visited her website: www.michellekmedia.com. Also, she may learn to use Twitter more effectively if you follow her @michelley415.

7 thoughts on “Eminem and Rihanna cause domestic abuse controversy with “Love the Way You Lie” video

  1. Now he should consider making one showing that nearly half the batterers are women. Such as the Major League Baseball Pitcher who was beaten on by his girlfriend, a super model, while driving in their car on a California freeway at the same time it was happening to Rihanna. I guess it male victims don’t make all the news. It was just a back page story in the LA Times.

    Annette’s Story: The Other Face Of Domestic Violence

  2. I’m not surprised that he would release something like this, but you can bet that I’m thoroughly disgusted.

  3. I think it’s easy to lump Eminem into the group of musicians these days who exploit the tragedy of violence and sexism to sell an album but there’s something different about what he’s doing that’s easy to miss between f-bombs and pyrotechnic threats.

    I hear an honesty in his words that is lacking in other references to violent relationships. I actually don’t think there’s a single line that’s meant to imply that this type of relationship is okay. Even Rhianna’s chorus expresses not a genuine affirmation of domestic abuse but an all too true reality of the situation – that love and violence can be horribly interconnected.

    I hear words written by an artist who has been tortured by abusive relationships for much of his life; who knows how horrible they are and also how hard to give up. This video gave me chills because it is offensive. But it’s the SITUATION that offends, not the choice to represent it in a realistic way.

    It’s particularly important to consider this song within the context of an entire album – one that expresses deep regret and humility about the pain and destruction caused by addiction as well as the incredibly challenging journey to sobriety and health. Abusive relationships can clearly be addictive in quite a similar way to the drugs Eminem candidly admits ruled his life.

    If you give him an honest chance, this newest album has little to none of the gratuitous violence and degradation for shock value that Eminem has come to be known for. I would argue that while violent and disturbing, even his earlier work came from an honest if troubling place, and any fair critic can see that Recovery lacks the hubris that oozes from the pores of your average “pop” star.

    Of course this situation is degrading – and that’s why it’s horrible and why it’s painful and why these musicians and actors connected strongly to the cause. But it’s part of the COMMENTARY on degradation; it’s not the degradation itself.

    I will take this painfully honest account of a horrible and sad reality any day over a video that portrays “success” and “happiness” with strippers and champagne.

  4. Nope. Most kids will just think it’s normal or “cool” to hit women, or to be hit by your boyfriend/male lover. Trust me, I used to be an assistant teacher with middle and high schoolers. I know. Just because a rapper is putting an issue “out there” it doesn’t mean anyone is having constructive conversations about it. Look at the people just above me in the comments section defending Eminem (he’s an abusive s**tface) and claiming that women are the “real” abusers. Really??
    There is absolutely NOTHING positive about a song glorifying violence against women. Ever. There is not subtext, there is no hidden meaning, there is no excuse because Eminem is an “artist.”

  5. I don’t know what I can say, other than every time I hear this song I want to cry. I feel it really expresses the pain and feeling trapped, the woman in the relationship feels. I don’t feel the song is glamourizing abusive relationships at all, I think it’s showing how terrible such a relationship is.

    I also feel Lil’ Kim’s lyrics are expressing not that she wants to feel pain, but that she feels torn between her love for Eminem in the video and knowing she must leave him or she will die. I met a woman on Hello Kitty Online (Yes, adults play that game too, quite a lot of them), who was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. Her sentiments seemed very similar to this song, that she loved her boyfriend and was willing to accept his abusive behavior, while denying that the relationship was beyond repair and she needs to move on.

    So that’s my opinion, I really feel sad hearing the chorus because I she really communicates through her singing, she’s feeling pain, not that she’s happy about her situation.

  6. Song/Video.. Obviously a realistic portrayal.
    Here’s the problem I have with both… song ends still claiming to love the way he lies and the video ends with the girl sleeping peacefully together with the lover who threatened to kill her. This isn’t going to help the vast audience of young women who WILL be dealing with domestic violence in some way, shape, or form.
    I have a definite problem with that. We all should.

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