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Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 11:26 GMT
Should Eminem be banned in the UK?
Controversial US rapper Eminem is due to arrive in the UK for a three-date UK tour, amid a barrage of protests.
His musical career has gone from strength to strength, with four Grammy nominations this year and four NME award nominations. He has recently been compared to poet Robert Browning.
But his music has been banned by Sheffield University students' union, and was condemned as homophobic. His critics also say his lyrics promoted violence against women.
Should he be banned in the UK? Does his music inspire violence and homophobia? Or do you think his act is just that - an act?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I am outraged that they would even consider trying to ban him, what sort of society are we living in people should have the freedom to listen to what they want just like having the freedom of speech if you don't like it don't listen but don't try and impress your views on everyone else this is the 21st century after all. Long live Eminem.
Most definitely not, shall we have a poll to ban free speech as well? The music is dull but the lyrics tell a different story of a man who has been ignored by the very people who need to open their eyes
In the 60's they tried to ban the Beatles for references to drugs. In the 70's they tried to ban The Sex Pistols for references to the Queen. Then, as now, people have a choice to either listen or to not listen. Eminem's controversial stance may have upset certain fractions of society, but the guy is speaking his mind. We live in a democracy and I believe if he has something to say, let him say it.
I think that too many people take Eminem too seriously.
Many forget that not everything that is recorded on a CD
is the truth. Do we really believe that S Club 7 can "Reach For
The Stars", or that Britney Spears is actually "Crazy"?
My 13 year old son listens to Eminem in much the same way that I listened to David Bowie. The last thing that will stop teenagers listening to this unsavoury character is people like me or the Government banning him. You may as well have him deified.
On behalf of the entire United States, I apologise to the UK for creating the market for Eminem. Unintelligence has become somewhat of a fad in the US these days and, of course, if you want to be stupid, you have to be smart. This is exactly why Eminem will never make fun of or write lyrics depicting African Americans in a negative light. If he does, his career is over. Listen with an open mind, but always remember what your own personal values have brought you.
No Eminem shouldn't be banned - the content of his songs are not for the faint-hearted I admit, but he's a performer - it's a role. Should we ban all press for Anthony Hopkins as "Hannibal" due to the extreme nature of the character? Let's give up on the "nanny state" and live in the twenty-first century for goodness sake! Many radio stations already bleep out or dip the sound on portions of the songs already as they break (or at least stretch) broadcasting rules and codes of conduct. My advice - if you don't like it, don't listen to it. Personally I find it some of the most interesting music I have come across in a long time.
Are people not allowed to entertain fiction within music. If I wrote a song about violence it does not necessarily mean I am violent or that I really advocate it. Is this sort of fiction only allowed to authors of literature. If our children took more notice of literature would we ban them from reading certain books.
I'm 16, I love modern music and freedom of expression, but having listened to Eminem, I must say I was deeply disturbed, not by the language but the content. He seems to be becoming an idol for those younger than me, a fact which I am not comfortable with. Should Eminem be banned? No. But stronger controls on the music that young children are allowed to buy need to be introduced.
Daren C, England
Thanks to this bigot, after being a citizen for 26 years in the US, his fans racially taunted my daughter. Thank you Eminem, but there will be backlash somewhere, I for one will stand up against hooligans like you.
I don't think his music should be banned. If parents train their children with strong morals and values, then they don't have to worry what they listen to in music or stuff at school. Kids are very smart, they know what's right from wrong. Long live freedom of speech.
Instead of banning Eminem, who has talent and originality to his works, can we please ban manufactured dross like Steps, S-Club 7 and that (ugh) new band coming out in "Popstars"?
Simon Matthews, UK
It's the media again, stirring things up! Fortunately, not all people believe what the papers want us to believe. I believe in freedom of expression. If he had a difficult childhood it's good he can express it through song. Considering that most pop songs are really meaningless without any depth, this type is more interesting although not exactly run of the mill.
Yes - Eminem should be banned as he promotes and celebrates 'thug culture'. However, banning him
will just guarentee his popularity, so we should not grant him the centre of attention that he so
obviously wants. I suggest a media blackout.
All this has certainly got my mother up in arms, that's all I can say!
The concert at Manchester was excellent, the albums are fantastic, he is just so cute, wears the most wonderful clothes and has got to be the most talented person to come out of the USA ever. Why does anyone want to ban him? The men who do are jealous, the women who do need to lighten up. On a more serious note, freedom of speech is a terribly important thing, and never ever to be taken lightly, whatever you believe.
I went to the show last night in London and it was amazing, you can't ban Eminem, so many people like him, it wouldn't be fair, you'd be depriving a large majority of people, just because some people over-analyse his lyrics!
Please don't ban him. I'll be forced to go out and buy the CD... and I don't like rap. I guess I could put it on the shelf next to the Sex Pistols and Spycatcher.
Jonathan, London, UK
Mark Haber, England
Eminem is the best. Don't ban him from the UK.
I have always believed that music represents the era we are living in. We do not live in a nice Barbie world, we live among all those things Eminem sings about so why hide from reality? Why refuse that part of the truth Eminem sings about? Sad, hard to cope with, unjust, but still true.
Mike Hughes, England
Hitler used censorship to control Germany in WWII, and the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees freedom of speech. Alongside that is freedom not to listen.
I am gay, and have also been beaten up for it, but music doesn't make people homophobic.
I say let Eminem rock - I enjoy his music.
I remember about 30 years ago a similar fuss about Alice Cooper's 'controversial' stage show - he used a guillotine on stage and faked executions. The shock, the horror! But did all of us who went to these concerts come out and murder people? I think not. Have some regard for the intelligence of the audience. My 15 year old daughter is a fan, but has the sense to realise that 'Slim Shady' is simply a persona, an alter-ego. For God's sake, everyone get a grip - do you really want to ban music you don't like??
I am at Sheffield Uni and believe the
ban to be undemocratic, pointless
and misguided. Yes he talked about
'killing faggots', then in another
song said 'there's no reason a man
and another man can't elope'. These
songs are old fashioned morality
plays that provoke discussion.
Censorship is a morally bankrupt
process that prevents discussion.
Long live freedom of speech.
If Eminem had not released his singles. Then we would never have heard of Dido. So just ignore him and listen to Dido. Much better
Never heard of him before seeing this item.
Eminem is only expressing his thoughts and feelings through music. Maybe that's the only way for him to do so in order for the people to listen to his problems.
Philip Davis, UK
Because he's white there are many offensive words such as the racist N---word that Eminem probably would never dare use in his lyrics! But it has been used by many other black hip-hop artists like Public Enemy, NWA and the Fugees. Some of these artists have used very racist anti-white comments in their music, and I remember one rap star commenting "my music is dedicated to blacks only, and is not intended for whites". Can you imagine the uproar if Eminem said that about blacks? I am not racist myself and I don't support any kind of offensive comments but if Eminem was black we would not be having this discussion!
Gosh, Guy Ritchie's films aren't terribly wholesome either. Could you please ban him too?
Sam Turner, UK
Martin Price made a good point but came to the wrong conclusion. Respect to his 12 year old son for finding the lyrics sick and vulgar and for choosing not to listen to them. But this only goes to show that the buying public are not zombies and can make up their own minds about right and wrong. Likewise I do not agree with the content of the lyrics but I like and listen to the music for its shock value.
Ignore him and he'll go away.
No don't ban him. But his music is dull and his lyrics shallow and infantile. Rap is a subcultural cul-de-sac. I have seen him compared to real poets (Keats, Shelley etc) which makes me alternately cringe and howl with laughter.
Why does Martin Price allow his 12 year-old child to buy CDs with an explicit lyrics warning on the cover?
Definitely not banned, don't be silly, let the protesters protest as they are legally allowed to and let him write his lyrics as he's legally allowed to
What is the point in banning him when people will just listen to him on the Internet or by buying pirate albums, further damaging the music industry.
Why ban him? If you don't like his views or music you're not forced to listen. I personally don't advocate his views but at least they're invoking a debate.
Martin Price, UK
Wake up Britain! Have you never listened to the lyrics of songs by Tom Jones, Elvis Presley etc, all 'respectable' musicians? Try 'Delilah' for a start - it's about stabbing someone. Eminem is just more explicit and the current climate is more disposed towards self-expression. Violence has always been in music and always will be. You can always turn the radio off.
For the record, I think his music is no better or worse than the rest of the 'Gangsta Rap' genre, although I thought 'My Name Is..' was funny. He is no more a threat than Ozzie Osbourne was when the Parents Music Resource Centre in the US went after him. This is all about censorship, and people wanting a squeaky clean world with everyone having the same opinions. The world isn't like that. Get used to it.
Keith, Northern Ireland
Well, let us all think for ourselves. I think he's great.
I think the sort of people that are offended by Eminem are all too easily offended. The likes of Tatchell have whopping chips on their shoulders and are continually looking for media attention.
Much of Eminem's output is quite responsible, as well as displaying real creative genius. He is entertaining to those that like to hear it, and that ultimately is the business he is in. Anybody who has their prejudices reinforced by his lyrics will find approval for their views wherever they look.
Is anyone seriously suggesting that this horrendous stuff is music? It sounds so awful that I have to turn my radio off as soon as I hear it.
I'd rather listen to my washing machine!
Believe me, there is a lot worse than Eminem in the world of rap. Let the man get on with his music and get a life!The rest of us have the right to listen and see what we want and that is thanks to that thing called FREEDOM.
Tibor Saringer, Hungary
In spite of what he says, the man has not committed a crime (unlike Mike Tyson, whom you did let in). Any nation that calls itself free cannot block anyone from entry simply because the words they say or sing.
Eminem must be laughing all the way to the bank. Whatever people have to say about him, good or bad, it's all publicity which is exactly what he wants. He's not the first artist to be controversial and the more he offends people, the more records he sells.
He shouldn't be banned because he's not exactly a threat to society, just a rapper who everyone will get bored with eventually.
I believe that the university was right to ban him from performing, as there are opinions highlighted in his music that conflict with those set out by the institution. This certainly does not amount to censorship. Preventing him from appearing in the public forum is a different matter. That said it is difficult to see how his songs do not have a negative influence given the age groups of the children that I have heard listening to and repeating the lyrics in his music.
I think at some point or another you see a rising of a star profile ...which Eminem embraces proudly. Its the uniqueness of his music and lyrics that make people listen to it and relate to their own life ... another great speaker was the late Tupac; provocative lyrics about the society and injustices but true to certain extend. I think the rage in his music is the kind of inner instinct that probably everybody has it but afraid of letting it out.
If I stood in the middle of a city protesting how much I hate Gays/Blacks/Disabled/police, would I really be allowed to continue by a crowd who says "oh, we live in a country of free expression, lets listen" or would I be arrested for public order offences or would I just be beaten up?
What do you think?
I think that banning Eminem is a terrible idea, his latest album was a best-seller in the UK last year. Also, banning Eminem will only encourage more people (especially teenagers) to listen to him as a way of rebelling. Finally, just because people listen to his music it does not mean they share the same views as him.
I thought we live in a free country with freedom of speech. Ban a musician? Then we are no better than Hitler.
Sharon Langworthy, USA
Surely the mere fact we are discussing this means that Eminem has done a good job. For him all publicity is good publicity, if he believes what he says then good, but chances are he says it too sell records and he seems to have it down to a fine art.
The government's recent comments ring true here. We should ban a man (Eminem) who has committed no crime, yet we didn't ban a man (Tyson) who has. Banning someone because you disagree with his opinions is the first step towards totalitarianism, where perhaps people are barred from religious expression because they are Jewish? Let's stop the rot before it starts.
I don't like Eminem but that does "not" mean that he should be banned. If Eminem doesn't like homosexuality, as far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with him voicing his opinion. We should be free to make our own choices about what we ourselves consider acceptable.
Censorship at this level is a bad thing because it could lead on to other stuff being banned too.
This is the 21st Century, grow up! If it offends you, don't listen to it but, don't try to stop everyone else listening, and allowing them to form their own opinions.
He should be praised, not banned. My mother said to me a few days ago that he says "disgusting things". It's no more than would see or hear in an 18-certificate movie. His lyrics can be seen as offensive, but I prefer to think of them as challenging. He's just trying to express his opinion, and he has every right to do so. And anyway, if people don't want to listen to him, don't listen to him!
Joe Green, UK
Certainly not until we ban Steps and all the rest of the boy/girl band "fall in love" lyrics that are doing far more damage to society than Eminem. I personally am sick of the politically correct brigade objecting to freedom of speech when it doesn't suit their cocooned little world....
Whatever happened to freedom of expression. Just because a person listens to something it does not mean they have to agree with it. If individuals mirror this bigoted behaviour then those individuals should be punished. Has Sheffield SU banned all literature holding racist or homophobic views from it's libraries?
Jonathan Dale, UK
Should we ban Eminem? No because he has talent! He may have questionable morals but he does have ability. No one ever talks about banning the likes of the Spice Girls and Westlife and all these other ridiculous excuses for pop groups. So why ban someone whose famous because he is talented rather than because a faceless record company executive said "make it so!"
Personally I think that his attitude stinks and that he is probably a xenophobe. His music is awful - look what he did to Dido's song to turn it into Stan.
Make your own decisions, take your own risks, be responsible for the outcome of your own decisions.
No-one is forced to do anything they don't want. If you don't like his music then switch it off but you have no right to force others to do the same.
Having actually been beaten up, just for being gay, I say yes ban him.
I do not think you can ban someone on the principle that you should never block freedom of expression. What saddens me is that people are willing to fall for Eminem's undoubtable skill for marketing himself and his image.
While Eminem's lyrics might not be to everyone's taste, I do find this hysteria a bit disturbing. He's a pop artist - nothing more. If Sheffield SU can't see that for what it is then that's their business but I do believe that the rest of us can make up our own minds. If you don't like him, don't buy a ticket to his shows or buy his records.
I'm sure the same thing was said of the Beastie Boys when they first swore in an interview on national TV. The band were criticised as aggressive, their lyrics declared misogynist and their behaviour condemned as abhorrent and something to be discouraged for fear that our young may replicate the image. Eminem's music is simply representative of modern day images transmitted to our screens on a daily basis. Sad, but unfortunately true. To ban the US rapper from the UK would be highly hypocritical given the present state of the medium of television and cinema.
Ashley Hall, England
Surely we learned something from the
"Frankie Goes to Hollywood" fiasco
some years ago, when attempts by
DJ Mike Read to ban the song
"Relax" caused sales to jump and
the song to go to #1.
Ignore Eminem and he will go away.
Make a fuss and he's here to stay.
(Gosh that rhymes !!!)
No! Eminem should not be banned. I believe that people have the right to express themselves through their music. It is up to the listening public to choose whether any viewpoint is a valid one in each person's belief system. If we begin to censor music then it will become less expressive as a result of musicians being scared of censorship. It is my view that music is a way of communicating your emotions without them being taken literally. It is when music IS taken literally that we see arguments and problems related to its message.
Of course it should be banned, along with all the other songs with naughty words. We should only listen to government approved music. Nanny knows best.
The only thing that should be banned is banning things.
What use will banning Eminem do? People already listen to his music, and have every right to do so. Banning it will make it seem 'glamorous' and therefore attract the more suggestible of the population.
Also, we failed to ban convicted rapist Mike Tyson from fighting in the UK even though the law said we should - so why should we ban someone who hasn't even committed a crime? One law for all and freedom of choice and expression - that's what we need.
A little more publicity won't hurt now will it?
Matthew Guy, UK
Yes - but only because his "music" is horrible!
M and M's?
They're only like Smarties
and they haven't been banned!
I think that if we were all brain dead drones then maybe he should be banned. Since we are not and CAN THINK FOR OURSELVES, I believe that we can choose for ourselves too.
No, he shouldn't be banned
07 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Stage set for Eminem
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