‘Straight Outta Compton’ is an incredible film — an incredible film that noticeably fails to address Dr. Dre’s history of abusing women.
Back in 1991, Dr. Dre brutally attacked well-known Fox host Dee Barnes after her show, Pump It Up!, aired a segment about N.W.A. that Dre wasn’t feeling. Barnes later described the attack in interviews, saying Dre attempted to throw her down a flight of stairs, slammed her head against a wall, kicked her, and stomped on her fingers.
Dre eventually pleaded no contest to assault charges. The two settled a civil suit out of court.
Now that ‘Straight Outta Compton’ is telling the story of N.W.A. and Dre’s rise to fame, Dee wonders why this part of the story failed to even receive a mention.
In a powerful essay for Gawker, she writes:
I never experienced police harassment until I moved to California in the ‘80s. The first time it happened, I had just left a house party that erupted in gunfire. A cop pulled me over and ordered me out of the car. I was 19, naive, and barefoot. When I made a move to get my shoes, the cop became aggressive. He manhandled me because he supposedly thought I was grabbing for a weapon. I’m lucky he didn’t shoot me. There I was, face down on the ground, knee in my back. In June, I was reminded of what happened to me when I watched video of a police officer named Eric Casebolt grabbing a 15-year-old girl outside the Craig Ranch North Community Pool in Texas, slamming her body to the ground, and putting his knee in her back.
Three years later—in 1991—I would experience something similar, only this time I was on my back and the knee was in my chest. That knee did not belong to a police officer, but Andre Young, the producer/rapper who goes by Dr. Dre. When I saw the footage of California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Andrew straddling and viciously punching Marlene Pinnock in broad daylight on the side of a busy freeway last year, I cringed. That must have been how it looked as Dr. Dre straddled me and beat me mercilessly on the floor of the women’s restroom at the Po Na Na Souk nightclub in 1991.
That event isn’t depicted in Straight Outta Compton, but I don’t think it should have been, either. The truth is too ugly for a general audience. I didn’t want to see a depiction of me getting beat up, just like I didn’t want to see a depiction of Dre beating up Michel’le, his one-time girlfriend who recently summed up their relationship this way: “I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat on and told to sit down and shut up.”
But what should have been addressed is that it occurred. When I was sitting there in the theater, and the movie’s timeline skipped by my attack without a glance, I was like, “Uhhh, what happened?” Like many of the women that knew and worked with N.W.A., I found myself a casualty of Straight Outta Compton’s revisionist history.
You can read her full essay here.