This week sees the UK release of box office hit Straight Outta Compton. The biopic exploring the history of one of hip-hop’s greatest acts, NWA, surpassed expectations, not only reaching number 1 in the US box office in its opening two weeks but also raking in $111.5million (£71.1m ). Despite the film’s success, it has been surrounded by a lot of controversy, most notably issues concerning domestic violence and racial profiling.
Straight Outta Compton, produced by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, depicts the rise and fall in the 1980’s of hip-hop stars N. W. A. The film depicts how the group used experiences with drugs, gang violence, poverty and racial disparity, in the streets of Compton, to revolutionise music and culture.
However, in the wake of the film’s release it has come under some criticism for not including aspects of Dr. Dre’s life, in particular accusations of domestic violence.
Certain figures have come forward disputing the accuracy of Dr Dre’s portrayal and have accused the filmmakers of shying away from claims of abuse.
Journalist Dee Barnes recently published a story that said Dre assaulted her at a party in 1991 and Michel’le, who was in a relationship with Dre from 1990 to 1996, said she was continuously assaulted by the rapper.
Last week, Dr. Dre published comments on the New York Time, stating: “I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”
In response Dee Barnes accepted the apology, maintaining;
‘Dre stepped up and performed his social responsibility by finally taking accountability for his actions. Who cares why he apologised? The point is that he did.”
This controversy comes after revelations that the film was involved in the racial profiling of its female characters.
The film’s casting call, posted on Gawker, reveals that Sande Allesi Casting, an agency that has posted several casting notices for the film, ranked female roles in terms of race.
The more attractive the girls belong to any race, whereas the poorer girls stem from African American backgrounds.
‘A GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair… very classy…You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern’
‘B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here.’
‘C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave.’
‘D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone.’
Hollywood has been notorious for perpetuating and advocating racial stereotypes and this casting call may come as a surprise since the biopic that is so entrenched in working against racial struggle.
TNT Entertainment Joanne Muigua