Eminem: Responsible Citizen

He’s 30 now, a play date-planning, SUV-driving parent in a posh subdivision of suburban Detroit, where neighbors know him not as Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady but by his given name, Marshall Mathers. And those aren’t the only signs that the rapper—once considered the biggest snag in America’s moral fabric since early Elvis—has gone respectable. In November he became a mainstream movie star with 8 Mile. Based loosely on Mathers’s own rise out of the Motor City slums, the film made an astonishing $54.5 million its opening weekend and earned its neophyte star acclaim for a performance more vulnerable than vitriolic. Natural charisma is “God-given,” said director Curtis Hanson, a 1998 Oscar winner for L.A. Confidential. “And he has it in spades.” Eminem scored musically as well. While 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP was vilified by gay and women’s groups as a vicious stew of homophobia and misogyny, his latest chart topper, The Eminem Show, has sold 7 million copies without sparking a single major boycott. Even The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, 50, confessed in her column: “A gaggle of my girlfriends are surreptitiously smitten with Eminem…. Eminem is now as cuddly as Beaver Cleaver.” Well, maybe not quite. Mathers, sentenced to two years probation for two weapons charges, vowed to Access Hollywood, “I still got that edge.” He displayed it at the MTV Video Music Awards by lashing out at musician Moby and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a sock puppet. Otherwise, Eminem—reportedly back together with ex-wife Kim, from whom he was divorced last year—was content to dote on daughter Hailie Jade, 7. She lives with him in a big colonial house where cussing is prohibited in front of kids. “My daughter is growing up, and I’m trying to set an example for her,” he explained. The real Slim Shady did at last stand up. Who’d have predicted that he’d be so upstanding?

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