I love the way you lie

Eminem and Rihanna are two artists with histories of violent relationships. They are perfectly cast in the roles of “tornado” and “volcano” in the duet “I love the way you lie”.

Ok, perhaps Chris Brown, Rihanna’s real-life abusive, and much beloved, boyfriend would have been even better, but he doesn’t write or rap like Eminem.

The two artists’ roles in the song are defined by gender at every level: Rihanna sings (feminine), Eminem raps (masculine). Rihanna feels and emotes, Eminem acts and then judges. Rihanna is the victim. Eminem is the perpetrator and takes responsibility for his actions.

Rihanna’s chorus:

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that’s all right because I like the way it hurts

Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that’s all right because I love the way you lie

I love the way you lie

Rihanna’s explicit masochism is reminiscent of Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love”.  The word “burn” suggests emotional pain in the beginning of the song. But Eminem’s final verse takes the story to the bitter end of a bride burning fantasy.

If she ever tries to fucking leave me again, I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire.

In the video the couple is played by Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan. Note than Megan’s character brings beauty to the table. Dominic is distinctly less good-looking. His character’s appeal to her clearly lies in the lies, the tattoos, the short fuse, and the violence that ensues. All of this rhymes perfectly with the female sexual program.

We see Megan Fox’s character literally playing with fire in the beginning: a small controlled flame in her hands. At the end, Megan is shown in flames, and serene as she burns – now literally.

“I love the way you lie” is an interesting line and title. Manipulation and lies are usually thought of as per se unattractive acts that serve the manipulator’s purpose (e.g. to seduce a woman) only through their consequences (e.g. she believes his lies). However, manipulation asserts control. To women, therefore, the act of manipulation itself is deeply sexy. She does not have to believe his lies to love them. On the contrary, if she deeply believed that he will never hurt her again, she would immediately be much less attracted to him. The manipulator’s sex appeal is lost on a woman who doesn’t sense the evil at all.

The song’s run-of-the-mill R&B production is uninspiring, but the lyrics and vocal performances are great. They push the envelope of mainstream sensibilities just enough and not too much. They attract attention, even controversy, to help sell the song, while not disqualifying it as a mainstream cultural product.

The song stokes controversy by going one step across the line. The personal experience and genuine expression of both artists is expertly channeled by the producers for this purpose. They clearly succeeded: Rihanna has been predictably criticized for glorifying domestic violence with the song.

After her own public romance of delicious domestic violence and sweet reunion with Chris Brown (which has been discussed broadly and deeply on Roissy’s blog, here’s one post), she received counseling and has publicly stated that women should leave abusive relationships. Will her female fans do as she says, or as she does?

Well, the real flame attracting them is their own sexual program. But Rihanna’s story (like Whitney’s and Madonna’s) and sweet siren pop songs like this one, are perhaps little garden torches that help set a romantic mood and mark the path through the darkness that leads to the flame.

We have to appreciate what is honest about the song: the description of the dynamics of passion. Eminem’s lyrics are excellent. But note that while Rihanna’s role is to enjoy the pain of victimhood, Eminem’s role is to assemble the facts, analyze them, judge them, admit to his lies and violence, and take full responsibility.

What makes this song interesting is that it tempts the truth. What makes it acceptable to the cultural mainstream is that it doesn’t go all the way to the truth. Going all the way would mean an honest look at her role and responsibility in the dynamics. To take that look is much scarier than seeing her burn and would disqualify the song as a mainstream cultural product. Sex and violence sells, but female sexuality is still a serious taboo. (I have discussed this before, here.)

No matter how much Rihanna admits that she loves the way it hurts and the way he lies, the lyrics place the responsibility squarely with him. Good boy, Eminem. We have an excellent product.

PS: Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” isn’t bad, either…

I love the way you lie

[Chorus – Rihanna]

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that’s all right because I like the way it hurts

Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that’s all right because I love the way you lie

I love the way you lie

[Eminem – Verse 1]

I can’t tell you what it really is, I can only tell you what it feels like

And right now it’s a steel knife in my windpipe

I can’t breathe but I still fight, while I can fight

As long as the wrong feels right it’s like I’m in flight

High off her love, drunk from my hate, it’s like I’m huffin’ paint

And I love it the more I suffer, I suffocate

And right before I’m about to drown, she resuscitates me, she fuckin’ hates me

And I love it, “wait, where you goin’?”

“I’m leavin’ you,” “no, you ain’t, come back”

We’re runnin’ right back, here we go again

So insane, cause when it’s goin’ good it’s goin’ great

I’m superman with the wind in his back, she’s Lois Lane

But when it’s bad, it’s awful, I feel so ashamed I snap

Who’s that dude? I don’t even know his name

I laid hands on her

I never stoop so low again

I guess I don’t know my own strength


[Eminem – Verse 2]

You ever love somebody so much, you can barely breathe

When you with em you meet and neither one of you even know what hit em

Got that warm fuzzy feeling

Yeah them chills used to get em

Now you’re getting fuckin’ sick of lookin’ at em

You swore you’d never hit em, never do nothin’ to hurt em

Now you’re in each other’s face spewin’ venom in your words when you spit em

You push pull each other’s hair

Scratch, claw, hit em, throw em down, pin em

So lost in the moments when you’re in em

It’s the face that’s the culprit, controls you both

So they say it’s best to go your separate ways

Guess that they don’t know ya

Cause today that was yesterday

Yesterday is over, it’s a different day

Sound like broken records playin’ over

But you promised her next time you’ll show restraint

You don’t get another chance

Life is no nintendo game, but you lied again

Now you get to watch her leave out the window

Guess that’s why they call it window pane


[Eminem – Verse 3]

Now I know we said things, did things, that we didn’t mean

And we fall back into the same patterns, same routine

But your temper’s just as bad as mine is, you’re the same as me

When it comes to love you’re just as blinded

Baby please come back, it wasn’t you, baby it was me

Maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems

Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano

All I know is I love you too much to walk away though

Come inside, pick up the bags off the sidewalk

Don’t you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk?

Told you this is my fault, look me in the eyeball

Next time I’m pissed I’ll aim my fist at the drywall

Next time there won’t be no next time

I apologize even though I know it’s lies

I’m tired of the games I just want her back

I know I’m a liar if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again

I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire



One Response to “I love the way you lie”

  1. Linkage is Good for You: White is Right Edition (NSFW) Says:

    […] Stagetwo – “Game is a Gift to Women“, “I Love the Way You Lie” […]

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