Part Two: This Movie and Planet Earth
Now that I’ve discussed the social backdrop for the Straight Outta Compton movie in my previous post, I want to start this post by giving props to film director F. Gary Gray because Compton was shot and edited well.
But of course I have some feedback about the storyline.
For starters, the film character positioning for 80 percent of NWA’s members shared a striking resemblance to Jesus Christ in that they existed in the world of drugs, violence, and misogyny, but were not of that world.
C’mon, don’t be surprised by what i said! We saw the same movie. Besides, the group has maintained over the years that they simply served as poetic intermediaries for all the sin which makes up Compton.
And while Eazy-E isn’t around to tell his part of the story, we’re led to believe that his successful completion of the federal government’s Narcotics Entrepreneurship and Small Arms Specialist Training Program — a.k.a., Iran-Contra — enabled him to fund NWA’s early commercial ventures.
The Dr. Dre character in the movie could do no wrong (!) — well, if you don’t count the scene where he defies his Mother when she couldn’t see his vision of Beats and Riches — and of course, Dre ended up being right…!
It seems that Dre, according to the parallel high-definition universe of Compton, only resorted to violence when defending his Brother from South Central bullies, or when taking a stand against big, bad gangsta Suge Knight and crew for not making music the sole focus of the Death Row Record label.
Which would make you think — you know, as far as the movie goes — that Dre’s decisions to physically harm others were heroic tactics, designed to ultimately defend his family or his Beats and Riches vision.
But here on Earth, we are aware that Dr. Dre repeatedly beat-up his girlfriend Michel’le Toussaint — a woman who gave him a child, and was his partner for six years. Dre also shot at her, According to Michel’le. So much for Dre’s defense-of-family principles.
Let’s remain on Earth for a moment and mention two more names on Dr. Dre’s fist list — journalist Dee Barnes and music artist Tarrie B. The former published something about Dre he didn’t like, and the latter didn’t want to collaborate with him on a music project.
(Laughing) If Compton’s cinematic logic holds, then Barnes and Tarrie B. should have scenes in the movie since they apparently weren’t compatible with Dre’s Beats and Riches vision!
But — they are not in the film.
There’s a more compelling case for Michel’le’s inclusion in Dre and Cube’s Compton world. In addition to being Dre’s long-time girlfriend and mother of his child, they shared a home.
But she wasn’t mentioned in the film either.
If you asked me “How many scenes should these battered women get in a movie co-produced by the man who beat them,” I couldn’t give you a cogent answer. Repeat that question I just raised before you ask me why.
I will say that Dre could have used the movie — including his violent problems with women — as a way to demonstrate his development into a more responsible man. Yes, I just gave Dre the benefit of the doubt.
The only problem with my suggestion is that “Compton to Hollywood” is the preferred story focus for this movie, and not personal growth.
Still, you can sometimes learn a lot from the things people don’t say — or include — in their movies.
Take the opening scene of Compton as an example. Eazy-E escaped the home that was about to be raided by police officers by running over one of the women in the house, who was attempting to hide her guy’s stash from the cops. That piece of flash footage was a heavy sign for me. “Dudes run; she ride or die, and then gets treated like football tackle dummy,” was my mental note.
The scene where the topless woman was shoved out of the hotel room during a party was another instance of saying a lot without saying anything at all.
And back on Earth, we have the casting call sheet for the movie. I’ll leave that to your own reasoning.
But remember, they don’t live that life; they only want to prophesize about that life for commercial gain, right?
Cube and Dre’s Jesus complex even applies to the Black Lives Matter Movement and the subtle positioning of the film’s marketing message in the wake of high-profile civilian deaths at the hands of the state. Take a look at the first part of Compton’s movie trailer to see what I mean.
Placing that spin mechanism in its proper context only requires a quick review of the album which provided the movie with its title. “F*ck the Police” is the only real protest song on the album, which represents less than 10 percent of the album’s playing time. The remaining lyrics, and much of the remaining albums have little to no social value to the struggle of African descendants against oppression. Not unless you consider lyrics about drug sales, drug use, misogyny, murder, weapons and souped-up cars components of the struggle for equality.
A woman who saw the movie heard all the pre-release controversy surrounding it and said, “All those things may be true, but they made their money, and now they can tell their own story.”
I’m not sure that her reasoning provides a strong case to see the movie, but I also don’t think Dre and Cube wouldn’t have a single problem with what she said…
song currently stuck in my head: “only women bleed” – carmen mccrae