Mean Streets


When a 47 year old, heavily bearded Eminem played his “surprise” performance at the 2020 Academy  awards of his 2003 Oscar winner Lose Yourself (because he bottled it the first time and spent the Oscars in bed addicted to Percodan) it made the famous phrase “you only get one shot” a tad redundant, a thought I’m sure was crossing Martin Scorsese when they cut to a shot of his deeply unimpressed face.

The world of cinema now having drastically changed from the Hollywood he began in the late sixties, you can’t make movies like The Exorcist or Taxi Driver nowadays. Back in the seventies during the new Hollywood era, they did it for real, too much for modern audiences to take.

Distribution has become almost instant now, Netflix and Amazon Prime have horded content and still require more to maintain their profit margin. There is little magic left in Tinseltown. The concept of the film itself has changed. People don’t try to make great works of art on celluloid (or should that read digital screen?) or if they do, the loss of literacy in the past fifty years has meant that few screenwriters know how to write anymore, and the denseness of New Hollywood movies, often full of literary allusions, are a glowing relic of a never to be recovered era.

Tarantino attempted to bring literature back into cinema, but was unable to see past his own music video pretensions. Is there a Tarantino film where lead characters don’t strut to a hip, soon to be fashionable track, most probably because his producer Harvey Weinstein had signed the band to promote the movie. Weinstein began in music management, where he developed his brutal approach to film-making and fragile women.

 Scorsese was a sickly child born in 1942 in Little Italy New York who grew up in cinemas amongst gangsters and priests:

“When you go to the movies as a child, you don’t know there’s anybody behind the camera…then you realise… the images, the darkness of the clouds, silhouettes against the hills, and the music- what you’re noticing, I guess, is poetry. Coming from a family that didn’t have any books in the house, I had to discover it all myself.”

Eminem made histrionic fits of his lack of childhood benefits in million dollar music videos,  which is exactly what both the film 8 Mile and track Lose Yourself also do, continuing the theme he started with his debut album in 1997. During the 2003 period, the Gulf War was beginning and Eminem had made a lot of noise against the conflict, and it was probably this, and his fear of being a 30 year old man raving to the cream of Hollywood (which still existed) that saw him take to his bed and sleep through the awards.

In the age of Trump, despite raving against the president in a widely seen YouTube music video he wisely backed down and never mentioned Donald Trump’s name again in such a derogatory way, accepting that he was no George Bush, his real nemesis.

Also, one of his most famous lines is:

Hilary Clinton tried to slap me and call me a pervert/ I cut her tonsils out and fed her sherbet

Meaning that he was screwed either way, so wisely took a break from 2018 after the weak Lucky You.

Strongly criticised for cowardice over the years for not showing up to play, Eminem waited until he just didn’t care about the Oscar’s anymore and just wanted to promote his latest album (and beard) Music to get Murdered by

After the awkward performance ended, they cut back to Scorsese rising to his feet for the obligatory standing ovation. Here was a man who had utilised The Stones, the Sex Pistols, The Ronettes, Bob Dylan and Woodstock to epic effect politely applauding a fraud who had duped his audience by waiting twenty years and turning Hollywood into karaoke.

Follow Andrew Moody on Twitter @Voguishfiction