Straight Outta Compton Thoughts

Many of my peers are getting amped up for Straight Outta Compton, the upcoming biopic about N.W.A, but I am rather conflicted. The height of N.W.A.’s popularity was admittedly a little before I got into hip hop but I distinctly remember them taking a lot of criticism for popularizing the degradation of women. Going back and looking at some of their lyrics makes it easy to see why they drew this criticism but nearly all of the media that I regularly follow is embracing the film to include those with feminist sensibilities such as Melissa Harris Perry. I hang with a lot of folks that normally key in on violence against women and the cultural supports for it but I’ve only seen excitement for the film in my circles.
I really don’t know what to make of the collective pass that those around me have given to this film.  I have several theories as to what may be going on:
  • Time has simply healed all. The public has forgotten about N.W.A helping to push the vernacular of bitches and hoes into the mainstream.  It has forgotten about tracks entitled “A Bitch Iz A Bitch” as well as lyrics such as “Cuz there’s a slight chance if I fuck she might burn me/And then I might have to shoot da hoe” and “And if you got a gang of niggas, the bitch would let you rape her/She likes suckin’ on dicks, and lickin’ up nutz/ And they even take da broom stick up da butt/Just to say that she did with a rapper.”
  • A friend of mine suggested that the black community is so appreciative of any representation at all that it is willing to overlook transgressions by those representing it. The recent dialogue concerning Bill Cosby comes to mind on this front.  Cosby’s alleged assaults generated massive dialogue because some were unwilling to criticize Cosby given how much he did for the representation of African-Americans on television.
  • Speaking of Cosby, the subject of rape and rape culture has been in the news quite a bit lately. Perhaps we are observing fatigue to discussing it.  Or, from a more negative perspective, perhaps we are observing a backlash to it.
  • People are already well informed about the link between misogyny and hip hop and don’t want this to detract from the merit of what N.W.A. achieved in artistry, social relevance, industry impact, etc.

Whatever the case may be, this does make me question the trajectory of awareness of rape culture in America.  That a group so inextricably linked to misogyny at one point is now being celebrated when awareness of rape culture is presumably as high as it has ever been means something.  I’m not coming out with a definitive opinion at the moment.  I’m only expressing my concern at the lack of critical dialogue surrounding Straight Outta Compton.  I guess I better at least watch the movie before I say any more.

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