Survivors decry Eminem’s ‘Darkness’ music video depicting the Las Vegas shooting, calling it ‘horrific’ and ‘triggering’ | While some fans praised the video as a bold call for expanded gun control, survivors and experts are outraged.

Survivors decry Eminem’s ‘Darkness’ music video depicting the Las Vegas shooting, calling it ‘horrific’ and ‘triggering’

Survivors decry Eminem’s ‘Darkness’ music video depicting the Las Vegas shooting, calling it ‘horrific’ and ‘triggering’

Survivors decry Eminem’s ‘Darkness’ music video depicting the Las Vegas shooting, calling it ‘horrific’ and ‘triggering’

Survivors decry Eminem’s ‘Darkness’ music video depicting the Las Vegas shooting, calling it ‘horrific’ and ‘triggering’

Survivors decry Eminem’s ‘Darkness’ music video depicting the Las Vegas shooting, calling it ‘horrific’ and ‘triggering’

Survivors decry Eminem’s ‘Darkness’ music video depicting the Las Vegas shooting, calling it ‘horrific’ and ‘triggering’
Survivors decry Eminem’s ‘Darkness’ music video depicting the Las Vegas shooting, calling it ‘horrific’ and ‘triggering’
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Eminem draws praise and criticism for his new music video
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Eminem draws praise and criticism for his new music video “Darkness.”
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Frederick M. Brown/Getty
  • Rap legend Eminem’s new music video for “Darkness” recreated the 2017 Las Vegas shooting from the perspective of the attacker.
  • While some fans praised the video as a bold call for expanded gun control, survivors and experts are outraged.
  • As one Las Vegas survivor told Insider, the video brought back “the entire night and what we went through.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a shadowy hotel room littered with alcohol, prescription drugs, and AR-15 rifles, a lone man pulled back the curtains at exactly 10:05 p.m. local time to aim and fire out the window at a crowd of music festival-goers.

The harrowing scene comes from rapper Eminem’s newest music video for the track “Darkness,” the first single in his anticipated album “Music to Be Murdered By.” The chilling video released today was a call to expand gun control, and it recreated the 2017 Las Vegas shooting in which Stephen Paddock fired at a crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival from his 32nd-floor hotel room.

Long-time fans have praised the rap legend for making such a bold political statement in his unexpected return to music. But for Melissa Williams, a 40-year-old survivor of the Las Vegas shooting, the video was “horrific” and “triggering.”

The Las Vegas shooting left 59 dead and over 500 injured – the worst mass shooting in modern American history. And while the incident occurred two years ago, many of the survivors continue to grapple with the physical and mental toll of the incident.

Williams, who started a non-profit to support fellow Las Vegas survivors called 58 Strong, said many of the survivors were outraged and triggered by the video’s graphic details of the incident, including real, live footage from the festival grounds.

“For survivors, it brings back that entire night and what we went through,” Williams told Insider. “There’s a portion where they show the clock at 10:05 which is when the shooting started. That time is also a trigger for us. The fact that he included that – I have no words.”

“Darkness” viewers will see a dramatized version of the shooting unfold from the perspective of the shooter, featuring scenes of an actor shooting a rifle from his hotel room window. In the video, screams rang out over live footage of panicked festival-goers taking cover from the bullets. It ends with the shooter dying by suicide.

Beyond potentially retraumatizing many of the Las Vegas survivors with the harrowing scenes, Williams is more concerned the video will prompt even more violence.

“I am scared and afraid that this will happen again from this video,” Williams told Insider. “It’s giving the shooter notoriety and its giving copy cats inspiration to go out and try to do this.”

Festival goers from the Las Vegas shooting take cover from the bullets.

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Festival goers from the Las Vegas shooting take cover from the bullets.
source
David Becker / Getty

Williams is not the only one who thinks the music video could have larger repercussions.

Karla Vermeulen, the deputy director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz, told Insider she thought there was a “very real risk” the video could incite even more violence.

“I think there’s a very real risk that something like this could inspire one person to think I’m going to be the next one. It just glorifies and romanticizes the shooting and makes the attacker seem powerful, especially if you’re a disenfranchised young white male who emulates Eminem,” Vermeulen told Insider, noting that the video had already garnered over 8 million views in one day.

Vermeulen also added the video was antithetical to recent efforts by media outlets to cover mass casualty incidents responsibly by focusing on victims instead of the perpetrator.

“It ends with what 20 seconds of printed encouragement to vote. But that’s preceded by five-and-a-half minutes of very graphic visual images with the music which makes them far more powerful than whatever that written message at the end might be,” Vermeulen told Insider.

Vermeulen, like Williams, also echoed her concerns about the impact the “Darkness” music video could have on mass shooting survivors. She worried the video could “retraumatize” survivors who often struggle with PTSD, anxiety, or depression following the traumatic incident.

“It’s literally re-triggering to see these stimuli and these images that kind of glorified the violence. But then also knowing someone’s making money off of this and getting attention off of this, I think that’s really offensive,” said Vermeulen.

For survivors like Williams who are still going to therapy to deal with the emotional and mental toll of the incident, the video brings back the distinct sounds of the gunshots ringing out and the fear she felt not knowing where the bullets were coming from.

“There’s a distinct sound between a firecracker and a gunshot,” Williams told Insider. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about the shooting. I think about it every day. This is what changed my life.”

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