Straight Outta Compton, the biopic of the infamous South Central 1980s rap group N.W.A. debuted this past weekend and to great success as the movie has already doubled it’s budget of $28 million in profit during opening weekend alone, while becoming the highest grossing R rated movie August release of all time. It’s not just applauds and high praise of the film.
While some critiques have been no more than bitter critiques from people who probably shouldn’t have an opinion on the movie, some critiques have gone further, delving into questions of misogyny, rape and upheaval against the police.
Misogyny wasn’t or isn’t exclusive to rap music. No matter how much people both inside and outside of the community would want you to believe. Is misogyny right, no. I won’t make excuses for those who do it, but I find the fury of others about misogyny in rap telling. Where are those people when misogyny is prevalent in TV ads, magazine covers or the many other fields where women face prejudice? Those people can’t be found, because that would mean they would actually have to care about women, and the issues surrounding them.
Rape culture has also been associated with parts of the movie that weren’t given enough attention. Rape is a serious accusation, and author Sikivu Hutchinson points out in N.W.A. own lyrics their blatant disregard for the matter. (“So what about the bitch that got shot, fuck her, you think I give a damn about a bitch, I’m not a sucker”) This is important I think for a few reasons, one, N.W.A. repeatedly let it be known they were telling stories from the neighborhood. Ice Cube in the movie goes as far as calling himself a journalist. The difference between rappers and journalists however is their intent and delivery. Ice Cube and MC Ren the two rappers credited for penning most of N.W.A. lyrics weren’t speaking for a mainstream audience or working for a major publication. So there brashness and general disregard is more reflective of a 18 something year old living in the hood in the late 80s than a middle-aged woman from a suburbs, just saying. Also, sorry to break it to some, the lyrics stated above are real feelings felt by people.
I’ve also seen people make mention of Dr. Dre history of domestic violence. Dr. Dre, born Andre Young has had allegations of domestic violence/assault dating back as far as 1991, when he was accused of assaulting TV host Dee Barnes, the case would be settled out of court. Dr. Dre did something close to 25 years ago, and today is still being questioned for it. I have no problem questioning Dr. Dre until the day he dies about his abuse of women. I ask this though, we levy this same type of non-forgiveness for other famous people who have been accused of domestic violence – Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn, Floyd Mayweather and Chris Brown alike. The difference in each of these cases though, we still tend to remember some of these guys issues and not others.
Domestic violence can never be solved until society as a whole cares about the matter, and not just when we want to call out people past transgressions to make a stance, or lower their shine.
The final critique that I’ve heard of the movie is probably the most ironic. Police in Los Angeles and across the country have said the movie paints police in the wrong light, and the timing of the release could be problematic. I wonder why?
Maybe it’s because of the heightened security at movie theaters due to Straight Outta Compton’s release, when there have been multiple mass shootings at a theater, and no public outcry for more theater security? Maybe because eight months into the year there have only been 11 days in which police officers HAVE NOT killed a civilian. I just can’t understand why the timing of this would be an issue?
The truth hurts, and while there are more truths to be told about Straight Outta Compton, what we got was the truth from the perspective of a group, that saw music as its own outlet for the world to hear their truth, and if you can’t get that, it is what it is.