Rap icon Eminem has used the 2017 mass shooting at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest Festival to illustrate a deadly point in his new “Darkness” video, rapping from the viewpoint of the shooter and reenacting the moments leading up to the massacre on film.
Far from glorifying the shooter or his actions, the disturbing clip instead seeks to question the motives behind the terrifying attack — and the atmosphere which made it possible — leading to the deaths of 58 country fans and injuring more than 800. Superstar Jason Aldean was on stage at the time, while numerous other country artists were backstage.
In the video, clips of Eminem rapping in a hoodie and a hooded figure in a hotel room play across the screen. Viewers are led to believe that Eminem is the shooter himself as the hooded figure’s face is hidden. The man appears to be holed up in a Mandalay Bay hotel room as he pops pills, drinks vodka, loads weapons and argues with himself in an apparent display of mental illness, while lyrics from his point of view continue throughout the song. It isn’t until midway through the clip that a major reveal is made, and the shooter’s true identity is unveiled.
It’s not the first time Eminem has used shock value to get his point across, having already taken on domestic violence, outright murder and more in controversial earlier works. “Darkness” seems to follow a similar approach, in part meant to question why mass shootings such as Route 91 keep happening. He ends the dramatic video with a black screen and the words “When will this end? When enough people care,” followed by voter registration information and a call to change American gun laws.
His new album, Music to Be Murdered By, was surprise-released today (January 17).