As a winged, nearly naked Cohen crashed to earth like Icarus, he had to land on someone if the stunt was to have comedic effect. For max funniness, that person should have max rebellious 'tude. That's Eminem in that crowd last night. It can't be a coincidence that the two forces met and cameras were poised to catch it perfectly on TV.
Furthermore, it seemed like Eminem was wearing a live microphone so we could hear a censor bleep out part of his scream as Cohen's cheeks rubbed against Eminem's: "Are you serious? Get the … off me!"
And can it be another coincidence that a camera just so happened to be positioned in the aisle to catch sight of Eminem stomping out?
Prior to the awards show, producer Mark Burnett hinted to Hollyscoop.com about the rapper's appearance at the event: "Eminem — It's epic tonight! It's epic!" Since Eminem's music performance clearly wasn't so epic, Burnett had to be referring to something else.
None of the above is shocking, of course, but what is: Why did Eminem play along? The stunt only fuels old fears that he's a secret homophobe. The rapper has lots of gay fans. It's foolish to alienate them three weeks after releasing a new CD, "Relapse."
Eminem got in enough trouble when his "The Marshall Mathers LP" came out in 2000, with lyrics in the song "Criminal" proclaiming "hate" for gays. Such gay-bashing resulted in the rapper taking a beating from outraged observers. Elton John came to his rescue by performing "Stan" with Eminem at the Grammys, then giving him a big bear hug that Eminem appeared to suffer reluctantly. Afterward, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation wasn't placated, issuing this statement: "GLAAD is appalled that John would share a stage with Eminem, whose words and actions promote hate and violence against gays and lesbians."
It's possible that Eminem didn't think through the implications of the stunt with Sacha Baron Cohen when MTV producers pitched it to him. It may not have occurred to him that it would look like he's disgusted by being touched so intimately by an effusively gay character. Eminem, let's face it, doesn't have very good gaydar. He may have thought that viewers would perceive him merely being repulsed by being the butt, literally, of a stupid stunt by a crazy guy dangling from the ceiling as he's pushing his upcoming film "Bruno."
Now how will Eminem deal with new accusations that he's being unmasked again as a homophobe? One option: 'fess up that it was all a joke, but MTV has a history of not admitting its stunts.