Last year, viewers slammed Eminem’s performance. They called him a hack and a has been. Hey, everone’s a critic, right?
Now, however, he’s being criticized for something much more serious — for setting off gunshot noises at his concert.
The crowd visibly ducked in fear. And he’s getting dragged for making thousands of people think that they were about to die in a hail of bullets.
The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, most often known as Bonnaroo, isa four-day music festival that takes place each summer in Manchester, Tennessee.
If you live in Tennessee or any of the surrounding states, this is the festival that your friends who are willing to brave musicals attend each year.
Unfortunately, some concert-goers received a serious fright.
During his song, “Kill You,” pyrotechnics produced a chillingly realistic gunshot noise.
So much so that, as you can see in the video that we included, the crowd was ducking in fear.
The video quickly circulated on Twitter, inciting outrage.
“Less than a year after Vegas and @Eminem thinks it’s a good idea to blast gun shot sfx onstage at a music festival? Bad call on this headliner @bonnaroo. What happened to Radiate Positivity?”
The Las Vegas shooting that claimed dozens of lives and wounded hundreds took place at the beginning of last October.
Many of the victims had attended a Jason Aldean concert.
For concert-goers to hear very realistic gunshot noises … it seems very natural for so many of them to instinctively fear for their lives.
That doesn’t sound like a good time.
Eminem is no stranger to controversy.
His team responded that these were not actual “gunshot” noises, but pyrotechnic concussion effects featuring a sonic boom. That seems like splitting hairs, but whatever.
As always, his diehard fans were eager to jump to his defense.
One person took to Twitter to refer to a previous performance of “Kill You.”
“You can hear the same sound at the end you idiots. Watch some Eminem performance before going to one.”
That’s a little harsh.
“So you grew up listening to Eminem but you didn’t expect gun shot sounds on his set.”
Well, some would argue that it’s a different experience when mass shootings are so common.
“The gunshot actually makes the performance 10 times better.”
We’ll take that person’s word for it.
Some have argued that legislation should curtail this sort of element within a performance.
There would be legal precedent. A famous First Amendment exception to free speech is using that speech to do harm, such as shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.
Many would say that Eminem setting off such realistic sounding gunshots is the equivalent, and could provoke the crowd to trample each other in fear.
After all, actual mass shootings occur multiple times per week, thanks to the widespread and virtually unchecked availability of tools designed for killing.
Gunshots in music online or in other media (such as films) is different, as it comes with a visual context and is not usually consumed in massive, dense crowds of people who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
Are gunshot effects in concerts a threat to concert-goers?
Were Eminem’s diehard defenders right to criticize fans for freaking out at the sounds of gunshots, since they were expected by many as part of the show?
Or were concert-goers right to react instinctively — better safe than sorry — and were critics right to condemn the use of the sounds?
Maybe the problem has nothing to do with the audience, the critics, or even Eminem.
Maybe living every single day with the knowledge that we could die in a hail of bullets while going to a theater or using mass transit or attending school or a house of worship is the culprit.
Perhaps fixing our nation’s gun culture and gun epidemic will help to repair some of the other fractures and conflicts in our society.
And people won’t have any reason to fear attending a concert.