While the state violence endured by black men is a narrative that runs throughout the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, the real-life violence women experience at the hands of men — specifically, at the hands of Dr. Dre — is conspicuously missing. Dee Barnes, the former host of Fox hip-hop show Pump It Up! and one of Dr. Dre’s victims, watched the film and wrote an essay for Gawker addressing the missing piece of the story line.
“That event isn’t depicted in Straight Outta Compton,” she says of Dre’s attack on her in an L.A. nightclub in 1991. “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.”
The director, F. Gary Gray, addressed the excision by simply saying that they “couldn’t fit everything into the movie,” but Barnes writes that he might have a more personal reason for the avoidance. Gray was her cameraman for Pump it Up! during the interview that triggered the assault. Barnes had interviewed Ice Cube after he left N.W.A, which according to Eazy-E made them “look like clowns.” Barnes has always maintained a distance from the package, pointing out that the producer Jeff Shore put it together. Here, she suggests that it was Shore’s intention to stoke the ire between Cube and N.W.A, observing that Cube’s interaction with Gray and Shore put him in a foul mood before the interview. “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,” Barnes writes. “He’s obviously uncomfortable for a reason.”