FUCKABLE is an on-again-off-again cyber-periodical by Jamie Ebbs, proposing varied analyses of notable cinematic sex scenes. The inaugural post, "Love after Life", attempts a close reading of Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile, starring Eminem and the late-great, Brittany Murphy.
In my opinion, this factory quickie is all about Brittany Murphy (playing ultimate cool-girl, Alex). Her EYES THOUGH, are LITERALLY, giving me LIFE after death. The way she just glares so endlessly into Eminem (playing semi-autobiographical rapper, Rabbit) with those Shelley Duvall eyes as she licks her fingers to lubricate his entry, and then grins tauntingly as he begins to thrust. Brittany Murphy has never done so much with so little ever. I cannot stress this enough. The way she just provokingly throws her hands up, and casually pets his face, but is actually giving NO FUCKS with her eye of Sauron. It’s so strong and sultry. Back in ’02, when it first came out, I remember hearing a rumour that Eminem and Brittany Murphy had FOR REAL sex (un-simulated) while filming, but it’s not true. Though, apparently they did "date" for a while around the time of filming.
The jagged close-up shots (underscored by faint industrial dripping) have an amateur-pornish quality. The absence of soundtrack backing and the shaky cinematography denote a stylized sort of grittiness. And it works—he is still on his lunch break at the factory after all. They don’t use a condom, but I’m not their moms. Eminem doesn’t seem like a very good kisser, but perhaps I am partial (with consideration to the intertext of his misogynistic music and public life). I guess he does an alright job though—which I think is more a testament to Brittany Murphy’s acting, which can even make a piece of shit seem sexy.
The sex is quick and sorta mechanical, but whatever. B seemingly subverts camera-objectification by extending THAT GAZE THOUGH back onto Eminem through assertive eye-contact. This has nothing to do with Curtis Hanson’s direction, but rather reflects the power of Brittany’s sexuality—her character is enjoying sex in a really honest and vulnerable way, while communicating a sense of agency. This is so important.
Audre Lorde’s “The Uses of the Erotic” suggests feminine sexuality is vital to “the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information” (i.e. stop silencing female sexuality!) Feminine sexuality is an intense and untapped positionality which remains largely unexpressed in Hollywood, but according to Lorde has the potential to bridge many understandings of difference. When two people both engage in sex for the purpose of symbiotic joy and parity, beyond issues of identity and power—now that’s transgressive.