8 Mile: controversy and acclaim

Eminem’s movie has brought him acclaim and sympathy from people who would have despised him before. The day he was giving his concert in France on June 2003, I have talked to the hotel manager in front of the concert hall. He has told me:

“I didn’t like Eminem several years before. But it went to watch 8 Mile with my son. Since then, I do respect him a lot.”

It seems like 8 Mile has brought more mainstream acclaim in Eminem’s carreer.
But his movie has also raised some controversy in Detroit from some Highland Park citizens who were protesting Eminem for burning down a house. An abandonned house that was already known as a crack house:

Eminem has been accused to “give Warren a bad name”. How hypocritical. Warren doesn’t need Eminem to have a bad name.
The burning of the abandonned house has ignited a debate in Detroit. People like City counsilman Earl O. Wheeler was totally opposed to the burning of the houses:

“Burning a house for a movie sets an example for our children. It says to them that burning a house is good.”

I don’t think he is right. The 8 Mile movie is talking about real facts. Only responsible parents will help preventing from such acts. It has nothing to do with “8 Mile.”
Will people held Eminem responsible for every burnt house in Detroit? That’s simply ridiculous.
The situation of Highland Park has raised numerous debates:


Nobody could deny Highland Park is already facing financial crisis. The region of South 8 Mile doesn’t need the movie to get bad publicity.

When “8 Mile” was released, in November 2002, it also raised some debates among parents whether their kids should be allowed to watch it or not.
Some parents of Detroit gave a positive appreciation of the movie:

Robin Cusman went to see the movie with her two kids:

“The part where they were having sex, I got the hand out.The language? You hear that every day. I go to my son’s school and you hear it. That’s real life.”

Mandisa Smith of Detroit saw “8 Mile” with her 15-year-old son, Biko:

“I thought the overarching theme of the movie was being passionately committed to one’s goals and persevering in the face of all the obstacles of your environment. I think that’s an important message for everyone — particularly young people.”

Most of the negative comments I have read on the movie are focused on strong language, the use of alcohol and drugs and both sex scenes with Kim Basinger and Brittany Murphy.
I think those scenes are taken from real life, as Robin Cusman states it. I think we shouldn’t hide reality to kids. They are intelligent enough to understand real life situation. We as parents have a responsibility to explain them what is good or bad for them.
I wouldn’t be as prude as Mrs Cusman about the sex scenes. It wouldn’t help anyway. I didn’t have to explain anything about sex to my son. He had already learnt a lot from his friends as a teenager. Parents shouldn’t be so prude about sex and do as if sexuality didn’t exist. It is something completely natural, after all.

My son saw 8 Mile with me on January 2003. He was 13 when he first watched it.
Of course, he is not totally fluent in English. But he enjoyed the movie. When
I recently asked him about what he remembers of the movie, he told me:

“The most important is Jimmy Smith’s success in the end. There is a positive message in the movie: Jimmy struggles, he suffers, but he wins the battle in the end and captivates his audience. He manages to win his audience.”

We should be confident in our kids. They are intelligent enough to memorize the essential points in a movie. Parents, don’t forbid “8 Mile” to your kids. Let them watch it, it is really worth it. Why not watch it with them: you might be surprised by the positive lesson you can learn from the movie.