Directed by Richard Lee, the video starts with Eminem standing on a rooftop ledge that overlooks New Jersey. As he says his opening lines, the clip shifts to a basement, where Slim Shady is rhyming on the steps, then standing.
The video goes back to the rooftop, where Em goes closer to the edge. The shot could be taken as a metaphor for his life. Last year, the Grammy Award winner very openly told his story of being in a drug-induced haze for years. He said his addiction was so horrific, he almost overdosed and died.
Just like in real life, Em stops short of going off the ledge in the video. Instead, he marches on busy Market Street in downtown Newark. As he’s walking through traffic, he looks in a car window and his face looks distorted.
He suddenly seems to be to walking in a hall of mirrors, where he’s forced to take a very close look at himself. Marshall Mathers eventually jumps through one of the mirrors and lands back on Market Street. This time, however, instead of being filled with pedestrians, the usually crowded shopping district is empty. (This scene is intercut with one of him back in the basement, breaking through the bricks with his bare fists to reveal a blinding light outside.)
Em then walks alone to the end of the block and stops. There is no more street to walk. Civilization has been totally decimated, and everything beyond the block is in ruins. He jumps off the cliff and falls peacefully, but he never hits the bottom. He starts flying out of the abyss and back into the city, which is now filled with people once again. Shady flies so fast down the streets, he breaks car windows when he speeds by. Ultimately, he lands on the same ledge on which he started the video.
How would you interpret Eminem’s “Not Afraid” video? Share your thoughts in the comments.