Letter: The “real” Slim Shady


Letter writer Ryan Hurley explains how rapper Eminem can be viewed as an outlet for right-wing populism. 

Ryan Hurley

As a young kid from the suburbs, I fondly remember listening to Eminem in the late 2000s to early 2010s. I listened to his songs, loved the movie about his life story and I could relate to Eminem. We were both from tougher towns that felt abandoned by greater society, we weren’t rich, etc. Even more so, I related to his alter ego: Slim Shady. Slim Shady was the epitome of cool to me as a kid, someone who could be himself, say what he was thinking, do crazy things. I had “The Real Slim Shady” as my ringtone for years. Even now, I fondly look back at those days where Eminem was in touch with people.

One may think I am trying to say that Eminem leads people towards right wing populism, but my take is that Eminem was in fact an outlet for right-wing populism. Tons of people across the country live in places where it seems the government has abandoned them, real working-class, salt-of-the-earth types. These types used to belong to the Democrat Party. This was back before the Democrats entirely abandoned working class people in favor of city elite. My entire family voted Democrat. It was just the thing to do if you were in a Union family like mine. 

When the 2016 election hit, Trump massively changed the GOP, which primarily used to be a pro-immigration and free trade party, into a populist organization. This was what made many former Democrats vote Republican. People from towns like mine as well as Eminem’s made a stunning switch and voted massively for Trump. For out of touch elites, this was incomprehensible; for someone like me, it was blatantly obvious. Industries in places like the rust belt were decimated by mass immigration and horrible trade deals like NAFTA. People were also tired of how socially liberal the Democrats were. A Republican who was proudly patriotic, supported free speech, tariffs, immigration moratoriums, etc. was the perfect candidate. When I talk to many Union families, they say similar stories, but how does this tie into Eminem?

Eminem in many ways was similar to Trump: a voice for those who felt abandoned by the system, someone who said whatever he wanted (and a lot of people agreed with him). Sadly, as he grew more famous, it became clear that he had forgotten where he came from, supporting the very globalist people who put him into the situation he came from. 

Ryan Hurley is a senior in business and president of College Republicans United.