It’s an 8 Mile Road…

The other day, I was thinking about the climactic scene in the 2002 movie 8 Mile starring Eminem. Topical, I know, but there the scene was, replaying over and over again in my head in all its awesomeness. I’m not sure why it came to mind. Maybe because Em has had a huge comeback this year or because Brittany Murphy recently died, but of course that “recent” news is almost a year old too so who knows? Regardless, it was in there, black-eyed Slim Shady and all.

If you haven’t seen the movie I am going to spoil the end right now, so you are free to pause the blog and netflix that shit before you get back to me, which would be super cool if that actually happened. But if you have seen 8 mile or if you find that you don’t care whether or not you’ve seen it, here’s a refresher/info you need to know:

Rabbit, (Eminem), stands in the third round of a crazy rap battle after he’s had pretty much the shittiest week of his life. He’s going against a Free World rap gang member, and basically if he wins the battle he’s gaining a massive amount of street cred. The Free World Asshole is strategic enough to make Rabbit go first. This gives Mr. Free World a chance to hear the insults that Rabbit has to sling at him, and then one up  him with rhyming retorts. He is sure to win. But, in a cunning move by Rabbit, Rabbit chooses to insult himself and his own life instead of taking aim at Free World. He literally removes all the insults that could possibly be thrown his way, leaving Free World useless to retaliate.

“This guy aint no muthafuckin MC
I know everything he’s got to say against me,
I am white,
I am a fuckin bum,
I do live in a trailer with my mom
My boy Future is an Uncle Tom,
I do got a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob
Who shoots himself in the leg with his own gun
I did get jumped by all 6 of you chumps
And Wink did fuck my girl
I’m still standin here screamin ‘fuck tha free world!!'”

Rabbit wins, Rabbit gives the middle finger, Rabbit goes back to work in the car factory, end of movie.

I fucking loved 8 mile when it first came out. I was 16 at the time and had this new Honda Civic (well, it was new to me anyway) that had a cassette player so I had to make mixed tapes to listen to music while I was crashing into parked cars and whatnot. The first song of the first tape was “Lose Yourself” and I totally did lose myself in the music, I owned it, and I never let it go.

As a 16 year old white girl from Longmont, Colorado, I totally related to B-Rabbit.

And I still do.

I think many people use the 8 mile technique in every day life, whether they realize it or not. i.e. People will jokingly call themselves out before someone else does. As if the awareness of an unlikable characteristic makes the characteristic moot or “overlookable.”

For instance, just the other day in my improv class I was Miss Goody Two Shoes sitting in the front row, offering to be class secretary. The moment I took a look at my position, (my seat placement, my typed homework, my eagerness to take class notes…) I realized my pep needed to be 8 miled and said, “God, I am so anal. Hehehehe.”

As if being anal is funny.

And as if I actually am anal.

And as if everyone who heard me say that is now is accepting and loving of this trait.

I think I subconsciously figured if it worked for Eminem, the 8 mile technique should work for anyone. The crowd loved Rabbit after that battle because he owned up to his shit. And that should be true in life.

Alas and sigh, I don’t think I am one to win the daily rap battle of peer acceptance. For Rabbit, he was cool enough to pick up and go back to work, not really caring if he was truly liked in the end or not, whereas I scrutinize every detail of how I present myself every day of my life. Back to my improv class, I couldn’t just go back to work after that anal bit. The moment I said it, I felt the sudden urge to show that I was in fact not anal at all and that I was in fact super laid back and cool and only joking about the anal thing.

I realize that by writing this now I am illustrating my anal retentiveness, however I think I was more stuck on my desire to say it in the first place. I mean, it wasn’t really fair to say that about myself, really. Sure, when it comes to certain things, mostly studious or bill paying things, I am pretty wound up, but on many other ends of the spectrum I couldn’t be more “whatever.” My handwriting is messy, I’m not great at cleaning, I constantly forget to brush my hair and when I drop edible things on the floor I most certainly follow the standard five second rule. I twirl my hair, bite my nails, drop things, lose things, and even pile things up and shove them in bags for “later.”

But at that moment as I sat in class I decided to 8 mile myself in order to avoid people thinking the worst of me. I called their supposed bluff, but now I know I’m forever stuck as Goody-Two-Shoes-Secretary-Who-Is-Super-Anal-The-End.

The key to 8 mile-ing is the not caring after you call yourself out, I think. And so that means that the majority of people who do use the 8 mile technique are not successful. It’s a paradox really. Those who do it care about what others think of them and care about protecting themselves yet in order to successfully execute it they need to not care. And those who don’t care are probably people who never 8 mile anyway.

I wish I were a no apologies girl. It would be a much easier way to handle my admittedly abrasive personality. Meeting new groups of people, particularly other performers in this industry, is like a flashback to when I was 16 listening to Lose Yourself and trying to be liked in high school by other drama nerds wanting to be the lead in the next play. It’s a balancing act between being passionate and motivated as well as being approachable and kind. And while I’d like to think I am all those things, the fact of the matter is you cannot control what others think of you, no matter how hard you try.

I wish I could start each new group meeting with an 8 mile rap battle. I would tell these strangers that I grew up spoiled by my parents and with a stick up my butt. I would tell them that I am defensive and have a bite when needed. I would tell them that I am quick to write people off if they wrong me, and that I am not afraid to be blunt and honest. I would rap about my desire for chronic attention and that in order for me to be an actor and performer, at times I must embody an air of annoying cocky-ness. Sometimes I have to be full of myself to get through an audition or just through the day. And I hate myself for all those things.

And I would hope that after my rap is done, my Free World Gangster would stand in silence and let me win.

But the reason I can’t do that, the reason my world is not like B-Rabbit’s, is because nowhere is there a win-able competition in which you list all your negative attributes and come out victorious. Comedy is maybe the closest thing to it, God knows Woody Allen has made a living with self loathing films and it’s a stand up’s go to shtick to poke at their belly or balding head. But again the result is not a victory, it’s a laugh.

The second reason it is not possible to 8 mile your life is because calling out the bad things about yourself is only giving half a picture of a whole human being. I know this sounds corny, but I do believe there is good in everyone, or at the very least, a bad person can possibly have good intentions. Plus negative attributes are bound to be exaggerated with each interpretation, especially if they’re self-interpretations. If I was really that person I just stated above and that was all there was to me, I would have no friends and no life. I would be depressed and alone, and none of those things are true. Like many, there is much more to me than that.

Characteristics come from interactions, and people play very different roles with various groups of people. Sometimes you can pick the role you want to play, and sometimes it is picked for you. I take pride in being someone’s “funny friend” or “wise pal.” I hate when I am the “sensitive girl” or “stressed one.” And while I wish I was loved by all and completely understood, I know that in some groups I will be looked at as something negative, no matter how many times I call it out first.

Of course, there is something curiously cool to be said about an 8 mile-ing, that is, if everyone had to do it. What if we could begin each relationship with listing all the things we hate about ourselves? Wouldn’t that be soooo therapeutic? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that my boss hates her lack of backbone, or that my classmate is tired of feeling over her head? Wouldn’t it help to know that you are not the only one who worries about what others think, that everyone wants to be liked, and that everyone is dealing with their own shit?

Example Rap Battle:

“My name is Ali, I am not hot, I sometimes worry you think I’m a snot…”

“Well I am Brenda, I’m pretty poor, I sleep around, but don’t call me a whore…”

“I am Mike I’m kinda dumb, I’ve never slept with anyone…”

“And I am Maria I’m overweight, I get jealous of girls size 8.”

I know, these are just as high quality as Eminem. I told you we totally have this connection.

I still don’t know why this movie popped into my head so recently, but I can’t help to now take more notice of the times I attempt to 8 mile my life. I should probably stop unless I learn how to drop the mic and go back to work after. Until I learn to do that, it is  best that I just let my worries lie.

Negative attributes are only half of a person.  I mean, even Rabbit had a mother who loved him.

She was played by Kim Bassinger.

– One L

“You are ruining my dog’s quality of life.” – Apartment neighbor who complained when I bought a treadmill.


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