Well, of course Eminem is incensed.
You would be, too, if you were about to film a concert special for Showtime and weren't anywhere near ready for your high-def-camera close-up, what with a zit the size of the Washington Monument having blossomed in plain view on your face.
Big pimpin'? No, kids: Big pimple!
The dermatology malfunction apparently isn't the only thing that ails Eminem these days. As the headliner in the third iteration of the Anger Management Tour, the bilious, bleach-haired Detroit rapper also known as Slim Shady and by his real name, Marshall Mathers, is now venting for 90 minutes nightly at a concert venue near you.
Friday at Nissan Pavilion, he railed against family, exes, enemies, fellow celebrities, tabloids -- even the nation's most famous resident: In "Mosh," an anti-Bush screed whose political focus was a significant departure from Eminem's usual lyrical concerns, the rapper suggested that the administration's policy on Iraq ranks pretty high on the Very Long List of Things That Make Slim Shady Seethe.
"Strap him with an AK-47 / Let him go fight his own war," he snarled as a man in a dark suit and Dubya mask walked aimlessly around the stage. ". . . Look in his eyes / It's all lies."
He also hurled an F-bomb in the general direction of the West Wing -- though its impact was diluted some by the ribald rapper's repeated use of the word.
In fact, he later performed an entire song whose sole purpose was to note that he "Just Don't Give a . . ." well, you know. (Think four-letter word that's not "hand" -- even if there were two very large inflatable hands on the stage, each with its middle finger extended.) There was also a call-and-response bit during which the crowd was exhorted to chant "[Eminem's Favorite Expletive Here] Debbie" -- Debbie being the mother Eminem loves to loathe and who was then mercilessly skewered in song.
Eminem: He's so choleric, it's not even funny!
Actually, it is.
Upon his arrival on the mass-culture radar in 1999, when he crash-landed onto the top of the pop charts with his hit song "My Name Is . . . ," Eminem announced his mission statement in lyrical form: "God sent me to [tick] the world off."
It's something he's accomplished to great end, though the world may be missing the point.
Though clearly inspired by his occasionally tumultuous travails, Eminem's artistic output is not necessarily meant to be taken at face value. His songs do not add up to some Unabomber-style manifesto that offers a blueprint for retaliatory rage. Rather, with the exception of his most shocking and hateful work, it's just cleverly crafted black comedy from hip-hop's greatest white MC, a skilled storyteller and master of the metaphor who produces music that's mostly meant to be consumed with a smirk, at the very least.
So here he is on stage, converting his pain into pathological rage that's then passed off as self-parody -- and he's doing it as cartoon images and puppet videos play on the screen, and jokes are made about Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson and Britney Spears's hubby, and dolls are tossed into the crowd. And if that's his way of raging against the machine and whatever else, who are we to stifle our laughter?
Of course, anger manifested itself in other ways Friday.
For 50 Cent, it was all about suggesting, in a disarmingly measured vocal manner, that he, you know, JUST MIGHT KILL YOU. The exceptionally popular rapper, who once took nine bullets, wore a Kevlar vest and played video montages of guns and graveyards and bullet-riddled everythings on the screen and then repeatedly punctuated his point by playing very loud gunshot sounds over the sound system.
For Lil Jon, it was something more base. Or bass. The king of crunk's incendiary, bottom-heavy tracks thundered through the venue with such force that you couldn't even hear yourself froth. Instead, with Lil Jon and his lyrical helpers barking various chants over the bone-rattling bass, the crowd was whipped into a cathartic frenzy suggestive of a Metallica show.
And then there was Eminem, who at one point turned around to moon the crowd. It was not an act of defiance so much as a laugh line.
Thankyouverymuch, be here all career. Or not: Published reports have suggested that he's contemplating retirement, something Eminem joked about Friday without really confirming or denying.
Whatever the case, the guy doesn't need a hug. Maybe just some Clearasil.