Eminem, Real Slim Shady, Marshall Mathers… Whichever name is mentioned, many would contest it’s hard to mistake any of these associations from the infamous rap superstar and his reputation. He, and all of his alter egos, may seem to be the same person to most (on a technical level it’s hard to argue against that). But these roles have many layers, complexities, and purposes.
Alter Ego – A person’s secondary or alternative personality; another version of oneself. Also, a manifestation of character deviations.
Through all of Marshall Mather’s monikers, a labyrinthine exploration of human behavior is displayed; both at the surface and multi-dimensional levels. In a sense, none of the rapper’s personas are the same person at all. Just as an actor isn’t the character he or she plays.
But is it possible each alter ego is a form of potential? Marshall may just advantageously have a medium in which he can freely explore his own character potentials. On yet another technical level, he does and has. Role playing in this scenario, plays out indefinitely.
Alter egos in this case are synonymous with living a double life.
It’s an interesting, perhaps even accurate, concept. And it doesn’t have to be so extreme. Sometimes role-playing is part of the job. (Acting being the most obvious mention.) There are other occupations where an individual has to be someone else.
- Servers in restaurants have to be nice regardless if they actually are.
- Sex phone-line operators have to act hot and desirable even if they aren’t by conventional standards.
- Humble soldiers have to be vicious warriors on the battlefield when they are otherwise family oriented loving people.
It therefore becomes a practice, an art. An alter ego here becomes a necessary tool for success. In this case, Marshall Mathers is far from alone in his alter ego antics and stagecrafting.
In fact, the deeper we dive into the ways each of Eminem’s alter egos are used, the more we see reflections of our own behavior. We may not be as over-the-top, sensationalized, or obnoxious as the rap superstar (or successful), but it is not beyond our capabilities or potential.
Shades Of Personality
“I’m a million different people from one day to the next” – The Verve (Bitter Sweet Symphony)
Immediately, I can personally relate to this lyric. I don’t feel I’m just ‘one’ type of personality. I’m very empathic and prone to emotional shifts. Sometimes I feel because of this that I am a lot of different people. My core awareness* stays fluid, but how I act and view my own self tends to shift around.
This doesn’t mean I have an alter ego. It means I’m human.
Emotions tend to dictate the role that we play in our behavior and can tread the line of an alter ego. Road rage, romantic crushes, and great loss all show completely different facets of who we are or are capable of being. But these are just normal displays of human behavior.
We can’t expect to react like robots in any given and diverse, or unfamiliar situations. Alter egos go a little deeper than these normal emotional reactions. An alter ego is more than a reaction. It’s a complete proactive (sometimes conditioned) manifestation.
Marshall Mathers gives us a great study on multiple levels of this personality depth, adaptability, and deviation of an alter ego.
- Marshall: The man who came from a trailer park in Detroit wanting more and to become a rap artist.
- Eminem: The stage presence he molded to get to the next level. To get more, he had to be more and stick with it.
- Slim Shady: His animated dark side. A free-reign stress release and character he would unleash without qualms.
*If we lose our core awareness, we can be dealing with much deeper psychological problems. Having an alter ego that is a stranger to oneself, is both frightening and dangerous. This is a common report from alleged MK Ultra victims. In these reports, victims are tortured physically and psychologically until a total breakdown. Their mind is then controlled and split into multiple personalities or alter egos.
Who’s The Man Behind The Mask?
Slim Shady is Eminem’s alter ego. Eminem, is Marshall Mathers alter ego. Marshall Mathers is the center, the foundational ego of this character trinity. Even though he has a separate personal life, Marshall puts all his characters in plain sight.
This helps explain why people don’t always differentiate the man from his stage personas. And without this respectable separation, Marshall was completely villainized by the media. It was the perfect vehicle for his alter ego to be let out and have a field day with.
He unleashed The Real Slim Shady on the public with reckless abandon. Slim Shady was apparently on standby before Marshall felt it was time to fully let him out. (The character was originally formed in Eminem’s Detroit rap group, D12. There were only 6 members, and for fun and theme, each came up with an alter ego to become the Dirty Dozen/D12.)
Performers almost have to be someone completely different to their audience than to who they are in their personal lives. ‘Bigger than everyday life’. It is part of their sales pitch and act. But when a certain level of success is achieved, a ‘whole ‘nother realm’ of anxiety and need for venting can manifest itself.
If one is required to be someone other than their ‘normal’ self, new stresses, animosities, and realizations along the way cannot be openly, directly, or eloquently expressed. The consequences aren’t worth giving into. This constant bombardment without an outlet can formulate another persona; for better or worse.
Sometimes the environment creates or provokes the monster within.
Marshall became media pushed. This alter ego became his medium for release. Slim Shady was then used to strike Eminem’s stress and anger towards the media and others’ criticism. Slim Shady is this bad side that Marshall allows Eminem to let loose.
These extensions of Marshall Mathers, reflect us; whether we like it or not. To deny we do not have a bad side just isn’t realistic. Though we often choose not to feed our deviant sides, they still exist. We understand the consequences, and avoid them by keeping control of such toxic behavior.
Marshall more/less has a pass to let his out. It’s part of his shtick and has become expected of him. But the release of this deviant alter ego hasn’t been without consequence. Marshall Mathers is human and has his sufferings as well.
Playing The Blame Game
Alter Egos usually take on a different name. And Eminem isn’t the only performer with a mischievous alter ego. Nicki Minaj named her deviant alter ego Roman. She blames this negative environment/people influenced manifestation for her ridiculous behavior as if she has no control over it.
Some spiritual and religious sects have likened this split personality activity to be akin to demon possession. Regardless, on a more simple secular level, alter egos can be a way to dismiss poor or unacceptable behavior. And not just for the stars in the entertainment industry.
People who abuse alcohol tend to have an extreme side of their selves that come out when they’ve had too much to drink. Whether it be mean and violent, overly happy, or overly sad. When they can remember the next day, will blame it on their drunk alter ego. And if they don’t remember the next day, they still blame their drunken alter ego.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comes to mind. We’ve all met those type of people, even in their sober state. If not, then you’ve been practicing social distancing your entire life. I’ve personally had to say to some people, “I don’t know which one of you I’m talking to!”
People with such deep dualistic natures seem to have alter egos to me. It can spring form MPD, emotional/mental instability, or other medications they may be on.
Living a double life is a real thing. Some people we meet in our lives live behind an alter ego facemask to the public. The scariest cases to me being the men whose alter ego is a priest, yet are really predatory pedophiles. Political figures can have this nature as well. (Wolves in sheep clothing; deceiving the public for their own personal gain).
These sociopaths keep their true selves a secret. They wear their alter egos as their normal modes of character to the public. Human behavior will always have this dark side.
I’ve met some people that truly don’t display much depth in their personality at all. It makes me wonder what they’re hiding. I may never know, because I tend to stay away from those kinds of people.
(This topic is a lot of the reason I study and write about human behavior..to keep safe, aware, and pass on my observations, insights, and understandings onto others.)
How Do We Hold Our Mold?
There is such a thing as Ego Loss – A complete loss of subjective self-identity.
Psychedelic drugs are known to induce this clarity (or confusion) to the user. Reality of self is acknowledged as a conditional state of environment and experience; and a person could have theoretically become a number of different personalities. (It’s the nature vs nurture debate)
But being on a hallucinogenic drug may not be the right time to think this way or have such an epiphany.
Zen state of mind encourages this type of experience for gaining peace, clarity, and higher consciousness. It may be comparable to emptying the mind of all the clutter. (Sometimes I wish my mind had a refresh button.)
But it begs the question. Can we become someone completely different from who we’ve been? Was Eminem always going to become Eminem? This I will leave open for you to decide or figure out.
Please Stand Up!
“There’s a Slim Shady in all of us” – Marshall Mathers (or was it Eminem?)
The rap star and multifaceted character admits that we all have another side to us. Emotions, experiences, and free-will help add to this complexity.
Are you looking to conquer a bad side or conjure a good one? Is there an advantage in embracing what could be the stronger version of ourselves, versus the danger of letting out the beast, and wreaking chaos? I like to believe and act as if we have the choice in this matter.
Alter egos can can be used in a positive light. Beyoncé for example, has claimed her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, was conjured to overcome her personal stage fright. We find that in some cases, a person develops an alter ego and acts into it to overcome what they normally couldn’t accomplish or otherwise deal with.
Sometimes we have to stand up and reach for something beyond our everyday being to move forward towards something greater. We may meet that higher version of ourselves waiting to greet us at the gates of our dreamt success. And in turn find it was truly us all along.
We may never find out if we don’t rightfully explore our own potential.
Thanks for checking out my site and reading my article. This is officially my 50th article, and a personal milestone for me! Hope it informed and/or entertained you! Please leave any comments, feedback, or pats on the back below. Have a good day!
– Mark G