Straight Outta Compton Director Says Dr. Dre’s Violence Against Women Didn’t Fit the Film’s Narrative

Oof. Photo: Universal Pictures

As far as historically accurate biopics go, Straight Outta Compton is a sigh of relief. But it doesn’t show the whole picture: Many critics have questioned the filmmakers’ decision to leave out Dr. Dre’s violence against women, specifically a 1991 attack against journalist Dee Barnes in which she claimed he slammed her against a wall and kicked her in the ribs. (Dre would later receive a fine, community service, and probation.) Gawker recently brought that incident back into the public memory, while Dr. Dre himself shrugged off the violence in an interview with Rolling Stone, calling his past actions the “mistakes” of someone “young [and] fucking stupid.” At a Q&A with fans, the film’s director, F. Gary Gray, explained why you won’t see that particular part of Dr. Dre’s life in Straight Outta Compton, saying, “we couldn’t fit everything into the movie.” Instead, he chose stories that better “served the narrative.”

His point is that the film is an N.W.A. biopic, not a Dr. Dre biopic, and so he didn’t want to distract from the group’s narrative with “a lot of side stories.” The film, of course, does focus on one very particular side story: how Ice Cube quit the group. And it’s within that side story that we do get moments like a time Cube eviscerated an interviewer on-camera who’d been more concerned with scolding Cube for his lyrics than allowing him to speak about Rodney King. And we also see the group’s stars fall in love with their future wives. Dre’s beating of Dee Barnes, however, apparently just wasn’t the right kind of “side story.”

Why Compton Left Out Dr. Dre’s Violent History