In “Darkness,” Eminem criticizes both America’s lax gun laws and other surrounding circumstances that make gun violence commonplace. He references three main issues: mental health, media exposure, and gun laws.

The first spoken lines of the song are: “Here I am, alone again / Can’t get out of this hole I’m in / It’s like the walls are closin’ in / You can’t help me, no one can.” Soon after, Eminem raps, “I’m so much like my father, you would think that I knew him.” These lines reference the life of the Mandalay Bay shooter, whose father left him at the age of seven and landed on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list from 1969-1977. According to a testimony reported on by CNN, Paddock was also an avid gambler who spent nights gambling to stay out of sunlight. These lines don’t so much rationalize Paddock’s actions as explain them and use him as a cautionary tale.

Eminem then criticizes media sensationalization of shootings, implying that Paddock knew he would occupy the media if he committed the crime: “If I bet you I’ll be in tomorrow’s paper / Who would the odds favor?” and “The press is ’bout to go ape shit, bananas on all the networks.” This issue prompted reflection among news organizations over whether they should use shooters’ names.

Lastly, Eminem uses lines like, “Finger on the trigger, but I’m a licensed owner / With no prior convictions, so law says sky’s the limit / So my supply’s infinite, strapped like I’m a soldier,” and ends the song with, “Just tryin’ to show ya the reason why we’re so fucked / ‘Cause by the time it’s over, won’t make the slightest difference.” He draws attention to the dangerous availability of assault weapons and ammo to average citizens without a criminal record. Moreover, the last line indirectly criticizes the Supreme Court’s constant protection of gun rights as in District of Columbia v. Heller, and the 2005 federal law protecting gun manufacturers from legal liability.

The music video for “Darkness” also includes a plain call to action at the end. The camera zooms out to reveal a series of televisions arranged to look like the United States. Each is playing audio and video from news reports on different school shootings, while the screens eventually flicker to different images to form the American flag. The video explicitly portrays mass shootings as part of American culture, and ending titles read, “When will this end? When enough people care. Register to vote at Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America.” This drew some criticism from viewers, thinking that the video should’ve been up to interpretation, but Eminem instead advocated action through the legal process.