This commentary refers to the introduction and part one of my essay answering the question ‘What is the best available evidence for the existence of human consciousness after permanent bodily death?’ If you haven’t read the essay segment yet, best to check it out before reading the following commentary.
My essay was inspired by the movie 8 Mile starring Eminem.
In it, he plays a dramatized version of himself.
He is a talented writer and rapper, but he can’t get through a rap battle without stuttering, clamming up and puking. He has stage fright. They call it ‘choking’.
He is desperate to get out of his trailer-park, dead-end-job, going-nowhere situation. So when he finds out there is a rap battle coming to town, which is offering big prize money to the winner, he puts his name down to compete.
The day of the rap battle arrives, and we feel bad for him. He has not managed to get to the end of a battle without choking, and everyone in the packed audience knows it. He’s famous for it. How is he going to do this?
The names are drawn, and he’s pitched to battle against his nemesis.
Eminem is up first, and his opponent will have to respond.
A rap battle is usually won by whoever can ‘diss’ his opponent in the most creative, lyrically fluent, and hilarious way, as gauged by the crowd’s reaction.
But when Eminem starts to battle, he doesn’t criticize his opponent’s shortcomings and failings…
…He criticizes his own.
He raps about how he’s white and doesn’t belong in the scene.
How he lives with his mum in a trailer in the worst part of town.
That he pushes a button and takes crap from his boss for a living.
And how he can’t get through a rap battle without puking.
At first, the crowd are like, ‘what is he doing?’ But by the end they’re howling and whooping and cheering at his self-deprecating self-awareness.
But, more importantly, when it’s his opponent’s turn to rap, he has nothing to say about Eminem, because Eminem said it all already.
He stands there choking before giving up the mic and walking off stage. He’s done.
Eminem wins the battle and takes his first step on the road out of there.
I watched this movie many years ago when I was a teenager. But the powerful message in this scene has always stayed with me: The real enemy is not your opponent, but the parts of yourself you are afraid to confront and bring out into the open. If you can find the courage to name them and bring them to light, no one can say shit about you.
That was my approach with this essay.