Australia’s latter 20th-century tolerance has taken a dip toward Eminem’s plans to perform in the Pacific island nation, with a conservative member of the Australian parliament and an ecumenical family advocacy organization lobbying to have the rapper banned from concert touring there later this month.
In a Jul. 2 letter to Australian Prime Minister John Howard, MP Peter Slipper joined the Paris-based Australian Family Association in asking that the country’s immigration officials deny the controversial Grammy-winning rapper a visa on the ground that his lyrics are violent, homophobic, and misogynistic. Slipper is a conservative member of the Australian Liberal Party Howard leads.
There is no way the Australian government should allow those who pray on the disenchanted and disillusioned youth of Australia to visit our country and promote a culture of drugs, violence and foul language,” Slipper said in his statement to Howard. During a television appearance in Australia’s federal capital of Canberra, Slipper described Eminem’s lyrics as sickening.
Slipper, who is secretary to the Australian minister of finance and a member of the Australian House of Representatives, is a lawyer, business, and farmer who represents a conservative agriculture region comprising coastal Australia and its hinterlands north of Brisbane. Howard, a solicitor from Sydney’s northwest suburbs, has held office as Australia’s chief executive since a coalition victory in 1996.
Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is one of the rare white rappers to achieve mass crossover fame and respect, especially among African-American hip-hopheads who have tended to view his melanin-deficient predecessors with suspicion as culture bandits. This male counterpart to Madonna’s Blonde Ambition is praised for the sardonic wit and poignancy of his lyrics and mic-controlling, and he has gone multiplatinum with millions of album sales worldwide.
Although tickets are already on sale, a spokesman for Immigration and Multicutural Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock says his office has not yet received an entertainment visa application from Eminem or on his behalf. While Eminem would not be prejudged he would have to pass through some tough character checks before he is admitted to Australia, Ruddock’s spokesman also said.
Eminem is scheduled to perform at Japan’s Mt. Fuji Festival before concerts in Melbourne on Jul. 26 and Sydney Jul. 27. He is currently on probation for three gun-related charges from two separate incidents earlier this year in Oakland County, Mich., northwest of Detroit.
With ticket sales for Eninem’s Melbourne and Sydney dates lagging behind expectations as many of the rapper’s fans wait out the uncertainty of whether RuddockÕs office would admit him into the country, some of the Pacific nation’s high-profile hip-hopheads are questioning whether the opposition to his performances there are more for the sake of political grandstanding than concern for youth.
Events like this rarely involve or reach out to the local hip-hop scene or culture, Mark Pollard, editor of the Sydney-based hip-hop CD-ROM magazine Stealth, said Saturday. So to me, it is no different if someone wanted to oppose Marilyn Manson coming here. I don’t think an “Eminem issue” is an extremely volatile political issue or question.
I just wonder if all the adults who say how offended they are by his lyrics have actually listened to his album. If they are offended, then don’t listen. If they think that what they represent is a pure truth and goodness, then they do not need to worry about their kids going to watch Eminem in concert because they are such good parents and their kids won’t want to go, by nature. Without weighing into ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ about Eminem’s lyrics, I think the reaction by parent associations and politicians is a double standard. If they want to take such a hard line on Eminem, why not do it for everyone and everything (film, religious leaders, books, comics, magazines, etc.) that can take kids off what they perceive to be the ‘right’ path.
Eminem’s spokespersons could not be reached for comment.
MARK FITZGERALD ARMSTRONG
11706 SOUTH THROOP STREET
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