Playing With Fire: Cycles of Domestic Violence in Eminem and Rihanna's “Love the Way You Lie”


Corresponding author: Suzanne Marie Enck; e-mail:


In 2010, U.S.-based musical artists Eminem and Rihanna released the hit music video, “Love the Way You Lie.” Enjoying international acclaim, the video was met with praise for addressing the problem of domestic abuse and criticism for seeming exploitative of female victims. Performing what Grossberg (2006) calls a conjunctural critique, we observe that this video operates within a U.S. context of publicity surrounding Eminem, Rihanna, and Chris Brown. Arguing that U.S. public culture is invested in cycles of abuse at the cultural level, we read “Love the Way You Lie” as replicating and reiterating this cyclical structure, indicating attitudes of cultural complicity regarding domestic violence that work to re-secure hegemonic masculinity at the expense of female victims of violence.