For you, the dress code is casual.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Some thoughts on 8 Mile

If you haven’t seen Eminem’s 8 Mile yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

I just watched it for the second time, but both times, there have been scenes I've watched at least a couple times in a row thanks to the good writing.

Now, I’m white on white, man. I’m as white as a girl gets. Rap/hip-hop have never been a thing for me, but that's because of ignorance. This city has no black culture to it at all. Everything else but.

The older I get, the more I learn about hip-hop, the more it appeals.

I avoided 8 Mile for a really long time and only saw it this summer. (I can be really narrow-minded. It’s something I’m actively seeking to change.) Watching it then was one of those moments when I’ve cuffed myself and said, “You silly bitch, you should’ve done this long ago.”

I’m glad I didn’t, though. I've never been in a better position to relate to it than I have been this summer.

The story’s inspirational. It’s a classic tale of the underdog stepping up and delivering. The writing is strong, the characters are believable, and Eminem is a surprisingly understated, calm, sophisticated actor.

It wouldn’t matter if rap was your bag or not, it’s simply a great film. There are undeniable attributes that every great movie has to have: a strong cast, a confident director, a tight score, tight writing, and a story the public will embrace.

8 Mile’s got it all, and great editing, to boot.

Personally, I think it’s one of my favourite movies right now. I doubt it’ll last in that spot, but it’ll probably always be a film I identify with in small ways. And if I’m lucky, it will mark what I hope to be a milestone in my life.

As far as the plot in the flick goes, well, the artistic struggle’s the same no matter what class you come from, no matter what discipline you follow, and this movie captures that struggle so well-- the crisis of confidence, the need to examine how badly you want your dream, the quest for identity. And the movie doesn’t talk about it, it shows it. Eminem’s incredibly believable in the role.

It’s fitting I’ve seen the film this summer, because this course I’m in right now is about the artistic struggle and the artist identity. I’ve had to live my life with a lot of courage and strength over the last 10 years, just to get me through all the shit that’s come my way. And I’ve done that now. I’m good. I’m happy. I love my life. It fucking rocks.

But finding that courage and strength again, to tackle something new, to pursue the things I really want so I can be happy and content on a level I’ve never known before? A whole new kind of hard. It’s challenging, exciting, daunting, freaky, but that’s what art is. I think that as an artist I’ve been bred to have this inner ego that says “I bring something different... I contribute something meaningful... I can affect your worldview.”

Like anything, though, I find my voice is getting stronger the older I get, the wiser I become. I’m never going to sit here being some lifestyle swami and dictate cosmic truths to my minions or anything, but I feel like every now and then I tap into something like no one else can. And I have to believe that, otherwise why bother, right?

And whether we want to admit it or not, all artists feel some kind of compelling need to put themselves into the world. It all comes down, though, to who can sell themselves better and who’s hungrier. It’s about finding that need, being motivated to take those risks.

8 Mile captures that brilliantly. Artists don’t need adversity to create, but it’s from adversity that some of the greatest art springs. B-Rabbit’s adversity in 8 Mile might be that of white trailer park trash, but true adversity is universal. It’s so easy to relate to the characters in this film.

It’s the risk-taking and the confidence in pursuing things that have held me back (apart from the "just dealing with my shit" thing). It’s a hard thing to work on, a hard thing to overcome, and I found that 8 Mile captured it like few films have. It also shows one very important thing that too many artists forget when they're beating themselves up for not following their dreams -- you gotta be ready. Sometimes, it's just not time.

Good fucking movie.