Video: Eminem – “Survival”

Eminem released the video for “Survival” today and it does a lot more than just survive. Marshall Mathers dons his combat boots and spray can, rolling through what look like dark, seedy Detroit streets with flares and a gang of masked marauders.

They go around tagging the signature skull on walls between smash cuts and concert footage, cutting through smoke and staring solemnly at violent video game footage that screams in the background. The footage is taken from Call of Duty: Ghosts, the same game that featured “Survival” on its trailer. It’s unclear whether Em is providing a straight-up endorsement of the game (there’s little doubt he got paid for its inclusion), or if he’s spinning the whole violent video game angle into a commentary on gaming culture. You can decide for yourself, but there’s a lot at work here that could alternately frame Eminem as a corporate puppet or a subversive.

But regardless, he’s still one of the best showmen in the gam. The riot and mayhem imagery would be almost dizzying if Em didn’t provide such a strong center by bringing so much vibrant energy to the track. He turns flickering stairwells into strobing concert halls and injects some Fight Club into a song that’s probably been played at more than a few actual fight clubs already. And more than that, it’s incredibly refreshing to see a music video with high production value that doesn’t rely on one bikini or champagne bottle to ignite the screen.