I generally don't encourage boycotting anything, I only make a choice to fast or refrain from partaking. I just watched Straight Outta Compton, which I had been wrestling with in my mind, "to see or not to see". I can say, it was a good film (i.e. via Western film making resolution standards, men struggle, seem defeated and come back to life to create something powerful--Jesus archetype that we all expect). I felt the music, the images, enjoyed a reflection upon the experience and also felt like I did when I first heard it. I said, "fortunately, this isn't my life", in 1988 or in 2015. There is a lot of pain in that film the half of which won't be told in 2 hours. The role that the police, crooked contracts, and overindulged sexuality played in the lives of the artists stays with me after I have consumed this film. The incredulity of Eazy going to the White House was't covered, Ice Cubes more family friendly film Are We there Yet, nor the problems of the Dr. Dr. Dre's the Firm. That wasn't necessary because this film was about NWA (aka Niggaz With Attitude).
If I didn't see it I couldn't say tell you "Dre comes off clean in this film". As if he is just an artist trying to get his music played. He was and is more complex than that and fortunately I knew that going in. If someone never heard of Dr. Dre they'd think he was just a tragic figure with little agency or power over the good and bad things that happened in his life. Cube's role is well known because he put most of it on wax (i.e. in his albums). I felt bad for Eazy, just like I did back in the day. The few women who are in the film (Dre's mom, Cube's wife, Dre's "baby mama" and girlfriend, and Eazy's wife) have moments but the depth of their impact on the lives of their partners is minimal or not shown.
I understand why people would boycott the film and more specifically Dr. Dre for his abuse of women and NWA's misogyny but I also understand why people would want to see it. For many kids growing up on S. Cal, it seemed like nobody's music or art reflected our lives. Now my life was more De La Soul or A Tribe Called Quest, even though I was on the West Coast but NWA reflected the life a lot of people I know who were family and friends during that time. Shout out to my Cousin Savalas Holloway who worked for Death Row back in the day. I feel you all the more now.
I hope a NYC version called, the Bridge is Over of something along those lines comes out to tell the story of the golden era of hip hop, which led to Self Destruction and we see more women rappers. There will be controversy due to omissions etc but these stories need to be told. Ice Cube's son got to have a quantum existential experience fighting for his own future as he played his father in this film. I am a sucker for efforts to honor the ancestors as imperfect as they may be in this film. This movie that glorifies music I didn't even buy in 1988 (with the exception of the Death Certificate Album), was gratifying on some level but it can never by fully satisfying. See it or not. Most people my age lived it in the same streets, via MTV, or through your crazy friend with the 12' speaker-booming car stereo, as they could. The world will not end if you see it or don't. I saw it and am trying to make sense of why show this film now? I found their music in the 80's and 90's prophetic or at least a warning, as Cube suggested in that people should know that we live in a police state. For their promotion of awareness and courage to be a voice, I saw the film. Eazy and Cube were men who committed crimes and Dre was close to it for sure. These men are not saints but for a moment in time they demonstrated the courage to speak truth to power, so yeah I have respect for them on that level.
WE Have to Build
There us so much happening in the lives in young people. Their access to information and connections to each other via social media makes the world a small place it is so hard to orient oneself to a purpose in life.
I understand the need to protest, challenge, and confront issues that make our society inequitable. I am just at a point in life where I want to help people build something greater. There is a time to change, fix, transform, heal, and grow. However, there is also time to build.
Let's build together.