Racial Discourse In 8 Mile Essay2451 words - 10 pages Expert Reviewed✓The film 8 Mile, directed by Curtis Hanson, is the typical American story of struggle and theeventual overcoming of obstacles and evil. Upon closer look, the film is arguably a socioeconomicand racial discourse. It focuses on the ascension of Marshall Mathers into the rap industry,previously dominated by African-American males. Rabbit’s race, gender, and class, all contributeto his identity and the meaning of the film, as well as contributing to Eminem’s image. Severalthemes are defined through the movie’s underlying discourse of race and class: thecommodification of black culture, racial opposition, “passing”, cross-cultural bonding, whiteheroism and white masculinity, the reversal of white privilege into a disadvantage, andessentially, the film in its entirety as a racially biased film. Set in 1995, 8 Mile is the semi-autobiographical movie about Eminem’s, né Marshall Mathers,ascent into fame and the hip-hop scene, previously dominated by African-Americans. Jimmy is ahigh school graduate living in Warren, Michigan, working in a factory. He’s a white male with theaspirations of becoming a rapper. He lives with his mother, Stephanie, who has a younger andabusive boyfriend, and his little sister, Lily in a trailer. Throughout the movie, he has an unstablebut sexual relationship with a girl named Alex, who he catches having sex with his friend, Wink (8Mile). The Free World, the opposing, all-black gang that rules over the rap scene and the otherside of 8 Mile Road, then recruits Wink and he joins them. Jimmy is jumped by The Free Worldand almost killed, and is harassed by them the entire film. In the final scenes, Jimmy vanquishesthe dark Free World by winning his rap battles and proving his worth to the African-Americancommunity (8 Mile). Overall, the viewer gets the picture of a young man struggling. His enemiesare clear: the black members of the underground rap club, the opposing gang with all-blackmembers; the “Free World”, and his mother and Alex. The white male is surrounded by darkness. From the beginning of the film, Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith’s whiteness is juxtaposed with theblackness around him. The film starts with a black screen before Eminem’s white face appears.Jimmy lives on the opposite side of 8 Mile Road, which separates him from the urban blacks, andmakes him a privileged suburban white. His mission in this movie to cross that literal andpsychological border (8 Mile Road) and become accepted as a rapper despite his skin color. It isargued that Rabbit’s character is a tourist who ventures into black culture, and on the way,masters their art and dominates their industry (Jennings 2008). Therefore, Eminem, and thedirector Curtis Hutton, white people writing about an African-American dominated industry, havenow commodified the culture (Jennings 2008). This translates to Eminem’s career and his successin the industry. But Eminem’s success is ultimately due to his ability to encompass the
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