This review is late. I have had a bit of a hard time writing about Straight Outta Compton. In the spirit of fairness, I should confess to a major bias I have against this biopic…
My vagina. I own one. And she sincerely wanted this movie to go fuck itself…
Straight Outta Compton put into context why, as a woman, it is frequently hard to love hip hop. Hip hop is a boyfriend with really shitty friends. Some of his friends are cool, and you think about fucking them when you guys break up ( Hi Mos Def/Yasiin Bey!)… But some of his friends will never be allowed to come over, because they call you bitch, rampantly cheat on their girls, and encourage the systemic abuse of women of colour…. And when you complain to your man about them, he’s like; “yeah, but other than that, they’re cool.” FUCK THAT!
But since we’re on the topic of major biases and the oppression of women of colour, let’s give a shout out to Straight Outta Compton’s executive producers; key members of N.W.A, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. Also in a fun nod to nepotism, starring as his own dad (a role he was likely genetically created to play), is son of Cube, O’Shea Jackson Jr. Look: had the surviving members of N.W.A taken a page out of 8 Mile’s book, and set out to make a fictional movie based on their own experiences, my issues with this movie would have significantly lessened. Instead, Dre, Cube, and Baby Cube, assisted by director F. Gary Gray, made a dick stroking two and a half hour commercial for Dre’s new album and his poorly named headphones. My guess is that the individual in charge of keeping it real on set, spent their entire budget on jheri curl wigs.
There were aspects of this movie that didn’t suck. The acting as a whole was good. Specifically Jason Mitchell; who played Eazy E and managed to sexily rock a jheri curl wig; stood out as great. His performance was charming, funny, and so moving that fellow Runnin’ at The Mouth team member, MARITO ANTONIO LOPEZ, welled up with tears near the end (Yeah, I saw you). Other highlights of the movie were the powerful police brutality and harassment scenes, and the recreated concert and recording footage.
Now that I’ve outlined the elements of this movie that didn’t infuriate me, I feel comfortable moving on to discuss…
WHY THIS MOVIE CAN GO FUCK ITSELF
A scene was originally written into Straight Outta Compton depicting Dr. Dre’s brutal assault of Dee Barnes (A hip hop journalist who had the audacity to interview Ice Cube during his feud with N.W.A). Dee is one of a list of women who claim to have been assaulted by Dr. Dre. According to the movie’s director, F. Gary Gray, this scene was edited out for
the revision of history time. (Seriously! Eff Gary Gray!) Dee Barnes has written 2 responses to Straight Outta Compton on Gawker. One was about how the movie fucked up by omitting women’s voices and stories, and the second article was her reaction to Dr. Dre’s bullshit P.R-written apology. Please give them a read. To many people, N.W.A’s good far outweighs the bad. I happen to agree that Fuck Tha Police was more than a song, it was a movement; one that sadly holds relevance today. But in her first article, Barnes makes an excellent point about why N.W.A’s treatment of women should have been included in the movie. It was partially what made them notorious, and a direct symptom of the systemic abuse oppressing poor Black communities:
“Accurately articulating the frustrations of young black men being constantly harassed by the cops is at Straight Outta Compton’s activistic core. There is a direct connection between the oppression of black men and the violence perpetrated by black men against black women. It is a cycle of victimization and reenactment of violence that is rooted in racism and perpetuated by patriarchy. If the breadth of N.W.A.’s lyrical subject matter was guided by a certain logic, though, it was clearly a caustic logic.”
My puss and I would also like to point out that Dr. Dre’s apology is not worth the toilet paper he likely pissed it on. Here it is, if you happen to give a shit. Celebrity apologies should always come with a grain of salt, but you would have to drain the dead sea in order for me to swallow this one. Not only is it too little too late, after decades of Dre and N.W.A being completely remorseless, it also comes at a time when Dr. Dre conveniently has to promote a movie, an album, and headphones that unwittingly highlight what he’s best at.
And for those advising to appreciate the art separate from the individual; N.W.A’s art largely involved condoning the murder, rape, and general abuse of women. But while we’re on the topic, if your apology doesn’t involve any of the names of the people you’ve hurt, or how you’ve hurt them… And if it includes references to your own victimization or pain… Then shut the fuck up you raging narcissist. That’s not an apology, it’s damage control. (This also applies to a few other rappers, directors, and comedians)
BACK TO THE MOVIE! When Straight Outta Compton does feature women, it is only in the interest of objectifying them… In the first scene a tank rolls through a drug den in the projects. To the best of my recollection, the only bodies being violently tossed around are women’s bodies, despite only 2 women being present in a house full of men. Naked and half naked women are used to accessorize pool party scenes. Which makes sense… But if Straight Outta Compton can acknowledge that women existed in the late 80s and early 90s, then why not give any of these women a real voice? There’s also the unfortunate “Bye Felicia” scene, which degrades several Black women for comedic and boner effect… But it’s ok, because as Ice Cube has frequently pointed out, “If you’re not a ho or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable females…I never understood why an upstanding lady would even think we’re talking about her.” And they say chivalry is dead! Ladies, all this time we just had to read between the horribly misogynistic lines. In the spirit of romance, I’d like to introduce a series of N.W.A greeting cards for special occasions:
And if you have any doubts regarding the intentional objectification of the women featured in this movie; check out this racist and sexist casting call for S.O.C’s female roles: http://www.tmz.com/2014/07/17/straight-outta-compton-racist-casting-call-nwa-movie/
So in conclusion; this movie was infuriating. Rather than create a significant role for any of the female rappers who used to roll with N.W.A, or acknowledge the women who married/had children with/or were horribly beaten by the group’s members, this movie chose to ignore or relegate them to minor roles. Giving creative control to the subjects of a biopic resulted in the telling of a sanitized story, focused on hero worship. Yes the N.W.A story is an important one, but Straight Outta Compton opted for a Disney-Pocahontas Instagram filter. They didn’t address the ugliness of the group’s blatant misogyny, so that they could get on with the business of canonizing N.W.A, and rewriting history. And if for one second you think that their notoriety and fame had nothing to do with their well earned reputation as unapologetic misogynists, my vagina and I would like to say….
Written by: Aisha Brown