Talkback Live Talks About Eminem’s ‘8 Mile’

CNN Talkback Live had a short segment on and his new film ‘8 Mile’ which opened today. Host Arthel Neville talked with ABC Radio’s Scott West and Martha Zoller of WDUN. Read on for a transcript.

NEVILLE: OK, everybody. But his move from the street to the silver
screen has some people wondering if Eminem isn’t trading a sure-fire recording
career for something too mainstream. Is it Eminem or is it Marshall Mathers?

And Scott, since the bell cut you off twice, if Eminem is indeed going
mainstream, does he lose his edge?

WEST: Well, first of all, this role, I don’t think, causes him to lose
any of his edge. In fact, hardly a stretch. I mean, he’s playing a rapper.

There are a lot of people taking exception to him and being a white
guy doing what has been for a long time established black art. But, at
the same time, I think that the only way you really lose the edge that
he’s developed as a rap artist, is if he starts taking on other roles that
call for him playing somebody other than who he is or it gets tight.

And I think he’s probably taken a hard look at the L.L. Cool Jays (ph)
of the world, the Wil Smiths of the word, the Ice Cubes (ph) and the Iced-Ts
(ph). And he’s seen how they’ve been able to cross over into film. And
that’s pretty much what any artist nowadays is looked upon as, a multi-media

The whole American idol thing has been based on not really whether the
best singers were picked, but who is that person that we can market, not
only as a recording artist, but who can we move into a few other areas
of media? And so he’s just exploiting that opportunity, and I think he’s
done a successful first attempt with “8 Mile.”

NEVILLE: OK. Hang on, panel, I know you want to jump in. But I have
an e-mail I want to share with everybody now. It is coming from Myrna (ph)
in California. She says, “I saw “8 Mile” last night and I was very impressed
with Eminem’s performance. If people just listen to the words he raps,
maybe they’ll understand what Eminem is all about.”

And you’ll see, Martha, I’ll come to you on that, because that is the
deal. I mean, there are a lot of people who are critiquing him and they
don’t listen to his lyrics.

ZOLLER: Well, I think he really reminds me of Madonna. Not because of
any looks or obviously like that. It’s that he’s trying to move into this
movie career, and I think he’ll probably have as uneventful a movie career
as Madonna did.

But you’ve got to give a guy credit for trying to re-invent himself,
for being a commercial success. We don’t listen to his music at my house.
It’s not allowed in my house because we have rules about that.

But, you know, you can’t fault him for trying to do as well as he can.
But I have to take a little exception with what Scott said. And I know
he said rap art. But, you know, being commercial success isn’t necessarily
art. Art, in my mind, uplifts you. I don’t think that’s what Eminem does.

NEVILLE: But, you know what, Martha…


NEVILLE: Yes, because he does uplift some people.

ZOLLER: Well, I don’t know if the message is positive.

WEST: Well, I don’t believe it’s positive either, Martha. But whether
we agree with it or not, it is an art form. And I also think that you have
to take into account the fact that a lot of people didn’t like Iced-T (ph)
and his cop killer song a few years back. But now he comes into our living
rooms every Friday night on…

NEVILLE: OK. Let me jump in here for a second, guys, because I have
Rick here. Now I just said that Eminem uplifts some young people, meaning
that his struggle from the so-called bottom to the top. What do you say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of Eminem
at all. But I really respect his talent and what he does. And I don’t think
a lot of people understand Eminem. And I think this movie might help people
understand him more, understand what he’s been through, understand how
he has a talent.

NEVILLE: Bell, got to go. Somebody else got it Scott, this time. It
wasn’t you.

Well, listen, the bell means we have to move on. We are out of time
talking about Eminem. Thanks for chiming in on that one.

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