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‘Beautiful’ Detroit: Eminem’s Vision

29 January, 2011 (12:35) | Community & Society, Detroit, Michigan, Modern Life, Music, Photography, Social Change | By: Peter Kinder

I blogged yesterday on the marvelous documentary, ‘The Life & Times of Hank Greenberg’. Greenberg played for the Tigers between 1933 and 1947. Despite the Depression it was a vibrant city.

Son Jotham has forwarded me a link to Eminem’s music video ‘Beautiful’. It begins with titles: In 1950, Michigan was one of eight states that collectively produced 36 % of the worlds GNP. ‘Detroit was the richest manufacturing city in the world.’

The video, which seems to include both purpose shot and stock film, captures the desolation that is Detroit 60 years later: from the haunting interior of a large, abandoned church to burnt out working class houses to the demolition of what appears to be Briggs/Tigers Stadium where Greenberg inspired a generation.

Jotham points out that the song has only a loose connection with the scenes in the video, but the video works. I may have been a bit more dismissive of Rap than I should have been….

More than a generation ago, a critic called Paul Simon ‘the poet of urban malaise’. Today, Rappers and their videographers are poets of urban demise.

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