Beyond the Mockingbird

Posted by M ws On Monday, March 11, 2013 0 comments

Christopher Rudra is one of the eight brave students from the January 2013 intake in my class. He comes from a family of writers. His dad is a journalist while his older sister, Natasha Rudra (Canberrra Times) was also my student in the same course about ten years ago. I am pleased to feature his assignment on Eminem's 'Mockingbird'. This is his final draft fine-tuned in accordance to my suggestions. Well done, Chris! In the words of your dad, 'Have pen will travel!' 

Please leave a comment to share your thoughts/responses. Thanks! Have a great week ahead!

Mockingbird: Stop Sympathizing, Enjoy Suffering by Christopher Rudra


Mockingbird. Noun. Species well known for its characteristic repeating of other bird songs in a loud and mocking fashion. Also the title of a piece by famed rap artiste Marshall Mathers (stage name Eminem). This work is truly deserving of the title, as it makes a mock of the genre itself along with his previous work.

Rap has always been a part of African-American culture and it is little wonder that modern artistes incorporate tales from the streets into their work. Violence, as does sex, sells. And it sells particularly well when your target demographic is disadvantaged and discriminated in all ways from birth, with a large number who will have been involved with gang activity in some way or another at one point in their lives. Set against this backdrop of commercialized gang tales, fresh off the heavy angry years of the East-West coast rap wars which claimed two big name rappers, Mockingbird is a brilliant jest. Its lyrics are a simple song from father to daughter, apologizing for all the sadness and pain she went through growing up. No hint of violence, nor anger, no sordid tales designed to sell to the lowest common denominator, just a simple lullaby.

 However, if you were a follower of Eminem before this song, you might not appreciate the joke. A lullaby, coming from the man who produced songs encouraging violence and making fun of contemporary celebrities and happenings? Hypocrisy! But this is indeed the funny part, a classic example of fiddling while Rome burns. And Marshall acknowledges this in the lyrics as well, saying "Papa was a rollin stone, momma developed a habit, and it all happened so fast neither one of us could grab it". For all his previous work bashing on other celebrities, the big man can't find it in himself to make light of his daughter's lack of a father and addicted mother.

His portrayal of young, poor couples chasing fame and love is in turn a mockery of his biggest fans, and most of the big rap fans. This is their dream, to hit it big and live in love forever. But before his success, his daughter lived in poverty and sadness. As the song goes, "Daddy felt like a bum, see daddy had a job and his job was to keep food on the table for you and mom, and at the time every house we lived in either kept getting broken in and robbed or shot up on the block". 

Even after he makes it big, it comes at the price of a poor childhood and absent father for his daughter, as he apologizes in the song "Halie, I know you miss your mom and I know you miss your dad, well I'm gone but I'm trying to give you the life I never had". Ironically, this is the very same thing that he experienced and what he wanted most to avoid his daughter experiencing. His relationship fails and his wife becomes an addict; that teenage flame of love sputters and gutters under the stress of life.

From an aesthetic point of view Mockingbird is elegant and pleasing. Simple phrasing of lyrics compliments the backing melody of that traditional lullaby "Hush little baby". The muted vocals synergize well with an implacable beat. All this combines well to deliver his message of sorrow and apology to a confused and sad child. Yet, this message is not without comedy of its own. For as with his own life, Mockingbird begins with emphasis on the people, the love, sadness and confusion of his daughter, and slips through distress into success. And just like himself, it ends with promises of baubles and trinkets to ease the pain of a broken childhood and fix suffering self-inflicted.

If death of the author was applied, Mockingbird would seem nothing more than a mournful song of a man sorrowed by the pains endured by his daughter. But nothing exists in a vacuum, and so we are presented with the comedy of a man who previously mocked Michael Jackson at his low point, shoved into the same hell as the rest of us. He has failed as idol and father and while mocking him would be low, we can at least take comfort in the fact life makes fools of us all.

0 comments to Beyond the Mockingbird

Related Posts with Thumbnails
.