Eminem’s city is in ruins and he’s going to save it by pulling off his own sort of Batman-ing of Detroit with “Survival.” While the song itself continues to explore his venture into rock-rap with producer Rick Ruben, the video puts layers on layers on layers to the world of Emimen and his latest character.
Our first look at the dark knight shows him in shadow, lurking the city streets under the cover of a black hoodie, his face obscured by a handkerchief with a skull on it — with a can of spray paint in hand. Throughout the video he and a crew mark various buildings, in the style of famous graffiti artist Shepard Fairey, with a stencil to recreate the skull marking.
This is quickly tied-in, via a visual of dog tags around his neck, to the video game footage we’ll see projected all around Eminem as the video goes on, interspersed with projects of himself performing live. The soldiers are at war but, you know, not real war. Video game war. It’s an ingenious commentary on the theme of disconnection that an entire generation, and Eminem himself, feel from their actions.
The chorus constantly reinforces that the stakes are “winner take it all” and “do or die.” But in both story lines, it’s impossible to tell what’s reality and what’s a game.