After watching Straight Outta Compton, you might have left the movie theater thinking Dr. Dre was a pretty great guy. And why not -- after all, during the end credits, instead of a standard where-are-they-now montage of all five members of N.W.A., the only one we hear about is Dre, with testimonials from Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and others touting his greatness in hip-hop production and his business savvy in selling Beats by Dre to Apple for $3 billion.
Leaving the theater, this seemed off to me, and while walking home, I recounted the other ways the movie painted Dre -- a Forbes-listed corporate mogul with a $700 million personal brand to protect -- in an unusually positive moral light: his noble stance in leaving Suge Knight, royalties be damned; his repeated promises to do right by his child to his mother; his tearful breakdown and self-guilt at his brother's death; his equally emotive farewell to Eazy-E.
All of this fawning depiction is overcompensation, I thought to myself, since the very well-known incident of Dr. Dre repeatedly slamming a female journalist's head against the wall and then throwing her body to the ground and kicking her ribs was conspicuously nowhere to be found in the film.
Today, that journalist, Dee Barnes, has spoken up on Straight Outta Compton in a post for Gawker titled 'Here's What's Missing From Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up.' You can and should read her entire post here, which includes a chilling description of the assault:
...when Dre was trying to choke me on the floor of the women’s room in Po Na Na Souk, a thought flashed through my head: “Oh my god. He’s trying to kill me.” He had me trapped in that bathroom; he held the door closed with his leg. It was surreal. “Is this happening?” I thought.
Barnes goes on to explain why she's glad the assault wasn't depicted on-screen:
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.
Dre's attack on Barnes came after an interview segment aired on Pump it Up, the show Barnes hosted, which was edited to include inflammatory comments by Ice Cube to the remaining members of N.W.A. Barnes has long explained that she had nothing to do with the editing, but today, she goes on to reveal that a certain key player was involved:
I was a pawn in the game. I was in it, but so was a true opportunist: the director of Straight Outta Compton, F. Gary Gray.
That’s right. F. Gary Gray, the man whose film made $60 million last weekend as it erased my attack from history, was also behind the camera to film the moment that launched that very attack. He was my cameraman for Pump It Up! You may have noticed that Gary has been reluctant to address N.W.A.’s misogyny and Dre’s attack on me in interviews. I think a huge reason that Gary doesn’t want to address it is because then he’d have to explain his part in history. He’s obviously uncomfortable for a reason.
There you have it: F. Gary Gray was Dee Barnes' cameraman for the interview that incited Dr. Dre to violently attack an innocent woman, and F. Gary Gray is the director of the film that eliminates this incident from the story.
Beats by Dre are notoriously terrible headphones. Dre's son didn't meet his father until he was 20 years old. Dre's production on Straight Outta Compton was composed from the most common, unoriginal breaks in hip-hop. And Dr. Dre, a producer on the film along with F. Gary Gray, suppressed any mention in the movie of his assault on Dee Barnes.
'Staright Outta Compton' is a commercial for Dr. Dre.