Gunshot sound effects at Eminem concert draw panic and criticism

Eminem, who headlined the Bonnaroo music festival Saturday in Manchester, Tenn., left some people in the crowd shaken after gun shot sounds were heard.

Some people in crowd expressed fear and anger over the performance given recent mass shootings

Eminem, seen here performing in 2014, is being criticized by some for his Bonnaroo music festival performance Saturday during which gunshot sound effects caused panic in the crowd. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Eminem's performance at Bonnaroo Saturday night first drew panic among some concert-goers — and is now drawing criticism.

The rap artist, who headlined the music festival held in Manchester, Tenn., was singing on stage when he incorporated the sound of gunshots into his act. The loud and unexpected noise was enough to force some to immediately duck and left many others shaken.

Warning: Video contains explicit language and images might be disturbing to some

It sparked a debate on social media, with many expressing their fear about what had happened and others pointing to recent events as a likely reason for the crowd's response.

America's deadliest mass shooting by an individual in modern history killed 58 people at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas last October. In May of 2017, 22 people were killed in a terrorist attack outside the Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert. In June 2016, 49 people were killed during a shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orland, Fla.

Ali Abbas, director for the Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making in Los Angeles, said it's an obvious reflection of the current political and social climate in the U.S.

Artists need to ask what kind of responsibility they have when the norms of the culture change to the point that people are actually afraid of being shot.-Ron Avi Astor, USC professor of social work and education

"If this were in the '90s, would a panic situation have occurred? It's an important question to ask because it gives a lot of perspective about the perception of safety in society," said Abbas.

He added that the use of the sound effects was "irresponsible."

Some fans of the Lose Yourself singer argued his songs and performances have always included the sound of gun shots — it's nothing new.

But what is new, says Ron Avi Astor, are the conditions we live in today.

The University of Southern California social work and education professor, who's done research in mass shootings and violence, says artists might need to re-evaluate some of their previous work and the way in which it's now presented.

"One of the issues that comes up is that, he's been doing it for many years and so have others, but it has different meaning now," said Astor. "Artists need to ask what kind of responsibility they have when the norms of the culture change to the point that people are actually afraid of being shot."

He added: "They could warn the crowd or they could not do [the song]."

Abbas agreed a disclaimer about the noise was warranted but added the incident shouldn't be a deterrent to attend future concerts. Instead, he said, it should be used as a "learning" opportunity for people on stage "in these times."