author – activist – faculty – mom
I was so inspired by Katie Barnes’ Feministing film review post, “Straight Outta Compton: Another Step in the Legacy of Erasing Black Women,” that I made this meme today as part of my Public Feminist commentary on hip hop.
It’s bad enough that–during NWA’s time–the story of black people and hip hop excluded, denigrated and marginalized women. But it’s even more outrageous that decades of hindsight haven’t improved the male-dominated documentation of that part of hip hop history. Barnes’ analysis is refreshing. I particularly love how she points out how Dr. Dre’s history of violence against women was sanitized to “better serve the narrative.” Are you kidding me? This isn’t a Disney narrative. This isn’t some white boy’s senate career. These are supposed to be hip hop’s bad boys, not boy scouts. Yet the casual, laughable, humiliating and objectifying violence stays in the film. However, the undeniable gender violence that is illegal and shows Dre as an out-of-control bully of women gets washed away. This is a boy story. Elite white boys learn about race/class privilege by hanging with the black boys from the hood. Don’t worry, nobody will have to learn anything new about women.
Barnes’ post starts with the warning that it contains spoilers for the film. But I didn’t find any. The misogyny of that era is what spoiled hip hop for me. Barnes’ refreshing review revitalized me today. The film’s revisionist history that erases women and sanitizes violence is rotten. What Barnes did was the opposite of spoiling.