Arguably the most unexpected moment of the 2020 Academy Awards—next to Parasite winning Best Picture and becoming the first non-English language film to do so—was Eminem hopping on stage to perform his hit “Lose Yourself,” an 18-year-old song for which he won an Oscar 17 years ago. It was confounding and embarrassing, and, as I assumed, the result of some really clever and generous publicity scheme. (Eminem released a new album, Music to Be Murdered By, last month. The album’s been panned.) In an interview with Variety, Marshall Mathers tried to explain why he performed at the Oscars.
Like everyone else, he’s not really sure why he was there. But he did say that since he didn’t attend the Oscars when he won nearly two decades ago, it made sense to show up now:
“I kinda figured maybe since I didn’t get a chance to do it at the time, maybe it would be cool. Back then, I never even thought that I had a chance to win, and we had just performed ‘Lose Yourself’ on the Grammys with the Roots a couple of weeks before the Oscars, so we didn’t think it was a good idea. And also, back at that time, the younger me didn’t really feel like a show like that would understand me.”
He added that, at the time, he was “confused” about why he was nominated for an Oscar in the first place:
“I don’t know that I was disappointed, I was blown back by the fact that I won. I don’t even think I understood back then that you could get an Oscar for a song, and I remember being kinda confused about why I was even up for one, because as a kid with the Oscars, it was like a vacuum.”
He also says his team decided to keep the Oscars performance a secret (as an effort to maximize confusion?):
“I don’t know, I think it was either [the Oscars’] idea or Paul and [longtime publicist Dennis Dennehy’s] idea before they brought it to me. It was presented to me that way and I said, ‘Oh that’s kinda dope, to not even announce it.’”
I’m still confused.