Crossover Dream

Class Trumps Race in Eminem's '8 Mile'

Twenty years ago, 8 Mile director Curtis Hanson's career took a big step forward when he co-wrote White Dog with the late Sam Fuller. That movie was a grieving, pessimistic piece that suggested we were all doomed to racial violence. However far the country has come since then, Hanson's come even farther—now he seems to believe we've overcome.

Too bad Fuller wasn't around for 8 Mile. It takes one race-obsessed anarchist mofo to know one. The old geezer would have slung so much bullshit back at the MC that Eminem's head would still be spinning. He'd have made a much tougher, more complicated movie, one that might have actually struck the sort of terror in the heart of America that the real rapper has. And he might have wrestled with the unexamined irony at the center of 8 Mile: how a white kid could find himself in rap, and then use the music both to fit into the black city, and to help him escape its grasp.

Related Stories:

"When I Reminisce: Hip-hop Movies Mythologize the Age of Innocence" by Jon Caramanica

J. Hoberman's review of 8 Mile

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