Let’s go back to a simpler time. It was the year 2000 -- the dawn of the century. Some of us, like me, were turning 15, and in celebration of our youthful glows and first part-time jobs, we quested for a Top 40 anthem that would define a summer of butt-dialing parents with cell phones that scared us, and hoping whoever we had a crush on would be standing in the same parking lot as we were.
Fortunately, we found it. Thank you, Slim Shady.
In the age of Y2K-era (read: terrible) Internet, some things were still easy to figure out. Mainly: Moms and dads hated Eminem. Teachers hated Eminem. And while many of us thought "The Real Slim Shady" was an annoying single at best, we still thrived on the knowledge that the song’s mere existence made us seem rebellious among our family and anybody we deemed uptight. Who was the Real Slim Shady™? Marshall Mathers, of course!
Until 2016. When the real one finally stood up.
We should’ve known. Between the blond dye, the baggy clothes, and his affinity for speaking his mind, Baby Boy Bieber has been giving himself away as the real Real Slim Shady ever since completing his apology tour circa 2014. And if you’re rolling your eyes at my hypothesis or dismissing my knowledge with your own personal biases, you are wrong, and how dare you? Because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it all. I can’t unsee it — and now neither can you.
Who’s this? Why, meet Jimmy "B-Rabbit" Smith Jr., a character played by Eminem who we had no idea would eventually foretell the future. In 2002’s 8 Mile, Rabbit is the underdog. His life is terrible, he loves to rap, and he makes bold declarations about life, love, and other people -- like some bunny [wink] we know.
If you look hard enough, you will see me and my family grazing on this property’s luscious grass.
But the most important thing to know about Slim Shady is that he’s less an actual person and more a state of mind. An alter ego created by Eminem to channel his more violent, vicious side (nice!), Shady is whatever we say he is. So sure, he’s a character in Eminem’s songs, most famously played by Oscar winner Marshall Mathers. But that persona could be filled by anyone with enough talent. Slim Shady could be literally anyone.
Specifically, he could be Justin Bieber.
Let’s get the personality issue out of the way. While Justin Bieber is quite candid about his personal space, he thankfully shows no signs of articulating the homophobia, sexism, and general awfulness Slim Shady seemed to get away with. Ultimately, Justin Bieber would never, ever spit on your onion rings — he just wants to feed the ducks.
Then again, let us never forget that "The Real Slim Shady" (the song) never truly establishes whether the real Slim Shady (the person) is present and accounted for. I mean, yes: Em alludes to him being there, and paints him as a mean and vile human. But if we never technically met the Real One — if that enigmatic hero never, in fact, stood up — there’s no way to determine what his true demeanor could be. For all we know, The Real Slim Shady™ could be a man with a soft spot for roaming shoeless in Boston engaging with ducks, if that’s how you want to argue this — and it is/I do.
Also, I just feel like Slim Shady would try to work a look like this, especially since we’re back to what matters: physical similarities. Slim Shady looks enough like Eminem that the two are interchangeable, correct? So what’s been Eminem’s crowning glory? An affinity for bleach one or two shades darker than his oversize t-shirts.
Although I don’t know what the wire-frame glasses are all about.
But I digress. Remind you of someone?
Or why don’t we throw some specs into the mix?
Heaven help us all.
Now, between the bleach and his display of shock culture via Manson slogan, Justin all but screams that he, our precious baby son, is the Real Slim Shady. Especially when we go down this road:
And then try this on for size:
Just kidding — that jacket is much too large; we’d all be swimming in it. But riddle me this: If they're not the same person, then why do Biebs and Em-as-Slim look so dashing in red? Why the bleached ’dos? What’s behind their enthusiasm for being captured in the moment? And why is Justin Bieber full-on admitting to being the Real Slim Shady in this photo?
You see that look? It says "I’m Slim Shady." You see those ostentatious shorts? They’re something Slim Shady would wear. But more importantly, do you see the "I"? The loud, uppercase letter on a top that would otherwise be as blank as a circa-2000 t-shirt worn in the "Real Slim Shady" video? It says: Me. I am. I am the Real Slim Shady.
Being the real Slim Shady is a heavy burden to carry. It arguably left Eminem himself a broken man at the height of his powers. But we know our beautiful son can do it. Go ahead, Justin. Embrace your destiny. Please stand up.