Bruno Mars Is Far Less Of A Problematic ‘Culture Vulture’ Than Eminem [Opinion]

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Bruno Mars, unfortunately, has become the latest victim of ridiculous accusations of “cultural appropriation” which was once a legitimate concept and concern. However, these days, “cultural appropriation” is a term that is often used to promote segregation.

“Bruno Mars was the subject of heated Twitter discourse this weekend, after he was accused of cultural appropriation. The ‘Finesse’ star came under fire as part of a online roundtable discussion, which saw writer Seren Sensei hit out at Mars for appropriating black music.”

Sensei, like many other millennial writers, believes that only black artists should perform “black music,” and others who do are victimizing minorities and – in some cases – are just as bad as KKK members. There have been others who have condemned non-Latinos for singing in Spanish, even if most Latinos are flattered. It’s also been popular lately to condemn people for appropriating Asian culture.

It’s usually white people who get the brunt of cultural appropriation accusations, but that isn’t always the case. As Teen Vogue reported a few years back, Beyonce was found guilty of appropriating Hindu culture. And now, Bruno Mars, who isn’t white, is now facing a backlash.

Initially, the concept of cultural appropriation was a valid one since it called out people who mocked other cultures or didn’t properly give credit to a certain culture. If non-black people wear blackface while grabbing their privates, that’s cultural appropriation. If non-black people use the “N” word to show they’re cool with someone, that’s still cultural appropriation. When a non-Muslim woman wears a burqa with the words “f**k me,” she falls into the category of what the original concept of cultural appropriation was targeting.

Bruno Mars has given credit to many of the R&B acts of the 1990s who have influenced his music. Perhaps Mars has become a target since he is more talented than most of the R&B-influenced acts of today. They call him a “culture vulture,” an overused social justice term that is used to deride people who think outside the cultural box they are “assigned” to.

One has to question why Bruno Mars, a man of color, has become a target of the social justice warriors while Eminem, a white rapper who has used the “N” word before, has never been a mainstream target. It’s especially a great question since many of Eminem’s songs are filled with misogyny and homophobia – and we’ll get to that in a minute.

Eminem Appropriation
The fact that Eminem gets a "cultural appropriation" pass when others are condemned is ridiculous. Featured image credit: Dave J. HoganGetty Images

Some argue that Eminem isn’t a “cultural appropriator” since black producers have benefited from his success. That’s true, but shouldn’t the cultural police be angry that Eminem has become far more successful than actual African-American rap and hip-hop artists who have far more talent? They’re mad at Macklemore, whose career has declined after accusations of appropriation. The same goes for Iggy Azalea. Perhaps they shouldn’t be mad at these other artists either and instead target their anger at the audiences who buy their records but ignore African-American artists.

One has to wonder how Eminem has been able to get away with using the “N” word without an iota of controversy. Here is a YouTube clip from an early concert of his. Yes, the Detroit native is just trying to be “down with the folks here” and not using the word as a pejorative, but other white performers who have done the same have been universally condemned.

According to a Billboard article from 2003, Eminem recorded a song in the early 90s that depicted black girls as “dumb” and “gold diggers.” Eminem acknowledged that the song was a mistake. And he was instantly forgiven. Perhaps to hide the controversy, Eminem has recorded songs like “White America” and others to show that he understands what it’s like to be African-American. He doesn’t.

But what makes Eminem’s posing even worse is that he has used his position as an “honorary African-American” to spit out misogynist and homophobic lyrics.

As The Atlantic noted in 2010, Eminem’s lyrics have not only portrayed women he dislikes as “sluts,” but they also have found him fantasizing about raping his mother and assaulting underage girls. And counting how many times the performer has used the word “faggot” in his songs can take almost as long as it takes to count how many times Eminem has claimed that he was just portraying a character.

It’s quite possible that to hide the valid discourse over his past homophobic lyrics, Eminem’s PR team got to work, and a story about how he is so tolerant that he bought Elton John sex toys began to recently appear everywhere, including in such top sources as NME, Vulture, and others. Elton John, Eminem’s friend, helped spread the story as well. Many have validly accused Eminem of using his friendship with Elton John as a cover-up for his past homophobia.

In contrast, Bruno Mars has never used his association with hip-hop to demean homosexuals and women (especially African-American women). Bruno Mars doesn’t need to hype up his friendship with men of color or those in the LGBT community, especially since his talent speaks for itself. The relationships Mars has conjured up in his eight-year career are authentic, just like his music.

This writer isn’t suggesting that we create a “cultural appropriation” witch hunt on Eminem like we do to so many other artists. However, it’s important to analyze the hypocrisy of ignoring Eminem’s “cultural crimes” while giving authentic artists such as Bruno Mars a hard time. If people want to lecture others on the evils of cultural appropriation, they need to be less hypocritical.