Today I was perusing Facebook, and I came across an article saying that Eminem has Aspergers Syndrome.The article cited song lyrics in which he mentions Aspergers Syndrome, and another song in which he describes being "the type of kid that would always think the sky is falling," and wonders, "Why am I so differently wired? Am I a martian? What kind of twisted experiment am I involved in? ‘Cause I don’t belong in this world."
If you are not familiar with Eminem, I'll just give you a brief description... he is a rapper. Yep, that is the brief description. He was also one of the topics I was obsessed with in my younger days.
I was never the type of kid to get obsessed with singers, actors, or other famous people. The closest I ever got was an obsession with the author Cynthia Voigt, who I felt was the best author on Earth. I never bought the teen magazines about stars, or watched MTV, or hung up posters of my favorite celebrities. I did love music, but my tastes leaned towards the Beatles and other British Invasion bands, instead of towards the newer music my peers enjoyed.
For some reason, when I first heard "My Name Is" on the radio, I became obsessed! Rarely one to buy CD's, I went to Wal-Mart and spent some of my hard-earned money on The Slim Shady LP. Then I realized that I had accidentally bought the "clean" version. (I don't know about now, but back then Wal-Mart did not sell "explicit" versions of CDs.) I had to go to another store and buy a new copy, so I could hear the real songs without the annoying "bleeps" or weird replacement words. I listened to the CD over and over again, mesmerized by the lyrics. I bought a copy of Rolling Stone magazine only because Eminem was on the cover, and I carefully tore out the poster in the middle to hang up on my wall. I bought any book or magazine that featured Eminem. I had an Eminem calendar, with each month featuring a new picture of Eminem. For a while I had an actual friend, a rarity for me, a girl named Stephanie who worked with me at the daycare center and shared my love of Eminem. We waited in eager anticipation for his next album, The Eminem Show, to come out. I even wrote letters to him, causing Stephanie to mock me and call me "Stan."*
Why was it Eminem, as opposed to any other rappers, or any other artists at all, who spoke to my heart? After all, at the time many people criticized Eminem because of his crude and violent lyrics. He sang about robbing and killing people, rape, murdering his wife and her new husband, and having STD's. But he also sang about being bullied as a kid, feeling like he didn't fit in anywhere, poverty, and his fierce love for his little daughter. A lot of people hated Eminem and wanted his music to be banned, yet he insisted on being himself and not censoring himself.
I have no idea whether Eminem actually has a diagnosis of Aspergers, or whether he meant for the song lyrics mentioning it to be taken literally. But if he is autistic, maybe that explains why he meant so much to me when I was young and still undiagnosed. Maybe something in me recognized something in him that made us somehow the same.
"Now I think the fact that I’m differently wired’s awesome
Cause if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to work
Words like this and connect lines like crosswords
And use my enemy’s words as strength
To try and draw from, and get inspired off ‘em.”
Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2.
*A reference to one of Eminem's songs, "Stan," in which an obsessed fan writes frantic letters to Eminem and then eventually kills himself because Eminem doesn't write back to him