In Eminem’s controversial new video “Love the Way You Lie,” love and violence intertwine seamlessly. One moment, a couple sleeps in each other’s arms, the next, they’re violently fighting, tossing bed sheets. Later, they kiss passionately, pressed up against the same wall the man has just punctured with his fist. All the while, Rihanna croons the chorus which includes the line, “That’s all right because I like the way it hurts.” But is it really all right?
Less than 24 hours after MTV debuted the video for Eminem’s chart-topping single about the evolution of his relationship with his ex-wife, Kim, many are wondering: Does “Love the Way You Lie” glamorize domestic violence?
“The most important thing the video is doing is raising the topic of dating violence among young people,” Stephanie Nilva, executive director of sexual assault and trauma resource center Day One, told MTV News.
An expert in relationship violence and domestic abuse prevention, Nilva praised the clip for accurately depicting a pattern typical of abusive relationships. The video stars actors Dominic Monaghan and Megan Fox as a couple involved in a relationship that starts out passionately and lovingly but quickly devolves into a violent affair.
Nilva said the video is especially potent because of Eminem’s and Rihanna’s personal histories with violence or abuse. “Eminem’s history is …as someone who sings a lot about violence,” she said. “And Rihanna’s experience [is] as someone who was abused by Chris Brown.”
That history, she added, is what will make people look at the video and see “that the message is not ’Don’t you want a relationship like mine?’ The message is a warning sign.”
During the four-minute span of “Love the Way You Lie,” Rihanna alternately sneers in the frame and seems to physically diminish before finally crumbling to the ground in front of the burning house that serves as her backdrop throughout. The images may be melodramatic but symbolically, they are accurate, according to Nilva. “Someone who is victimized in a relationship does become smaller, does lose their power and their strength.”
“I think we tried as hard as we could to not glorify the violence, to try and explain that this was a relationship that is by no means ideal and a relationship that probably should have ended a lot sooner than it did,” Monaghan told MTV News recently. “The concept of ’Love the Way You Lie’ was essentially a look at the relationship that Eminem was in with his wife, Kim, so I kind of felt like I was playing Eminem a little bit, and Megan Fox was kind of playing Kim.
“It’s the story of them getting to know each other, and it’s the story of their tumultuous relationship, and it was the story of the breakdown of their relationship,” he continued. “Ultimately, what I think he’s trying to say in the song … is that he should have walked away a little bit quicker than he did and not let it get as messy as it did.”
To learn more about how you can prevent or get help for dating abuse and domestic violence, visit DayOneNY.org. If you are involved in an abusive relationship and would like help you can also call 1-800-214-4150. Love should not hurt.
Do you think the “Love the Way You Lie” video conveys its anti-abuse message? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.