WTF of the Week: Eminem Starring in Boxing Flick 'Southpaw'
To Eminem fans everywhere, I apologize for socking it to him frequently as of late, but today he's once again made himself the perfect clay pigeon for my editorial buck shot. According to Spin.com, the great white ???? is set to star in a new film.
Not a low-budget character study about a gay, white man living in the urban black man's world, or some bizarre cinema vérité about an up-and-coming rapper drafted into the Marine Corps during the Vietnam war, struggling to survive a deployment as a claustrophobic tunnel rat under a steaming jungle so he can get home to his pregnant wife and record his magnum opus. A film buff could only wish for something so simultaneously absurd and potentially compelling. But no, our dear Em has decided he is going to star, in all things, a boxing film. Oh yeah baby, we're in wide-open, un-tread territory now.
The film, which reportedly will be penned by veteran writer Kurt Sutter, the talent behind such gritty cable fare as the Sons of Anarchy and The Shield, will tell the story of an up-and-coming welterweight boxer whose life has been affected by tragedy and is seeking to "reclaim old glories."
While on the one hand, I can agree with those who back the project, this scenario represents an apt metaphor for Em's real life--a white-trash kid who struggled with multiple family and social issues while fighting to survive inner-city Detroit. But where I see this project as a total failure of the Eminem life narrative, is in its originality, which at the pinnacle of his early career he expressed in spades. Despite the tastelessness and moral depravity of Eminem's early work, nobody in the rap genre can come close to the razor-sharp wit, and acerbic vitriol of his best lyrics.
Begging the Question:
Why a fucking boxing film? There are fewer cinematic story formats as uninspiring, narratively restrictive and abjectly trite as the pugilistic pic.
I can see it now: This year we'll watch narcissistic former rapper Mark Wahlberg stoically mug his way through The Fighter, a film that asks the viewer to believe that a guy like Wahlberg has had to struggle with anything close to normalcy in the last 20 years, and that he is just like the rest of us schmoes. Then, in two years, we can all hit the reset button and watch Eminem pretend that he's just another schmoe. Meanwhile, we can all try to forget that superstars Russell Crowe, Hilary Swank and Will Smith have recently done their own boxing films about "average" people facing extraordinary circumstances and expected us munch our popcorn like we we're experiencing something great for the first time. At least when former superstar Sylvester Stallone did Rocky back in 1976, he was a nobody, which truly made the metaphor apt.
I'm just a hater, you say? Just ranting about things I couldn't possibly understand? Fine. But to Eminem, I beg, don't do this film. Use your newly found sobriety and channel your energy into something you're really good at and blow us all away again. Or make this movie, and throw everything you have into it, and prove me wrong.