Barry Saunders

‘Straight Outta Compton’ and straight off my must-see list

From left, Aldis Hodge as MC Ren, Neil Brown, Jr. as DJ Yella, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube and Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, in the film, "Straight Outta Compton." The movie releases in U.S. theaters on Aug. 14, 2015.
From left, Aldis Hodge as MC Ren, Neil Brown, Jr. as DJ Yella, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube and Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, in the film, "Straight Outta Compton." The movie releases in U.S. theaters on Aug. 14, 2015. Universal Pictures

Begging your pardon, guv’na, but this is the second and last time this year I’ll cite pork-abhorring hit man-philosopher Jules Winfield of “Pulp Fiction.” Honest.

Vincent Vega: “Bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good.”

Jules: “Sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’ll never know because I wouldn’t eat it.”

Jules’s verbatim response was too profane for a newspaper. So is mine each time someone tells me what a great movie “Straight Outta Compton” is and how I should rush down to the multiplex to check it out.

No matter how good it is, I’ll never know because it’s against my religion to waste money or time supporting a movie and a musical genre that insults me and glorifies violence, misogyny and the worst behavior of a small minority of people.

I asked erudite black dude Mark Anthony Neal why I am wrong about the movie, which chronicles the group N.W.A. Neal, professor of African and African American History at Duke University, disagreed that it “glorifies misogyny and sexism. ... It does a very good job of historicizing policing against black bodies in Los Angeles. That’s actually the entry point of the film (which) shows how these very young men attempted to use music as a response to what they were experiencing on the street.

“We see in the film that as young men just getting money they did stupid things that young men do when they first get money. By the end of the movie, the three major characters are all married, they’re using their partners’ talents – Ice Cube’s wife is a lawyer, Easy-E’s wife is looking over contracts for him.”

Dang, Prof. Neal: you could make a person relent.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson won’t relent, though, and he explained why in a USA Today op-ed piece.

“The entertainment industry,” he wrote, “lines its pockets by glamorizing a life where black men are thugs and our women are trash. ... It is time for them to pick on someone else because we have had enough. ... Demeaning women is not art, and it shouldn’t be profitable. Neither is glorifying violence and equating prison time with authenticity.”

Right on for the Republican, because he’s right.

Carson didn’t say it, but I will: Even N.W.A.’s name is an insult to our history.

Looky here, Beauregard. We don’t have to call ’em N’s no more. They done tooken to callin’ themselves that. Yippie Ki-Yay.

It isn’t just the music that has us being regarded as Public Enemy No. 1 with a bullet. I doubt that a cop, especially given what’s transpired the past several days with law enforcement officers being slain while pumping gas or doing their jobs, is going to be any more leery when approaching a brother whose car stereo is pumping out N.W.A.’s tender love song “[Expletive] tha Police” than he would be when approaching mine when I’m listening to Hank Williams Sr.’s “Kawliga.”

The sole intent of some music is to upset society, to cause discomfort. Some people – most notably, rappers – claim that gangsta rap merely conveys what is happening in their communities. They even grandiosely proclaim that it is CNN for the inner cities.

Even if that were true at one point, it has since gone from reporting what was happening to exacerbating what was happening, to glorifying lawlessness and dysfunction.

Carson, as is his wont, went and derailed his cogent denunciation by arguing – as though it delegitimized any contributions the genre may have made – that N.W.A. started its record label with drug money. Oooooh.

And that makes them different from some of America’s most revered families how? The French novelist Balzac was spot on when he wrote “behind every great fortune is a great crime.”

In its infancy, when much rap was angry, it had a message and a warning. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, KRS-One, Afrika Bambaataa, et al were genuine ghetto griots who eloquently expressed anger and frustration with the system without relying on vile expletives and misogyny.

It’s undeniable that I am not the target audience of a movie like “Straight Outta Compton,” that neither it nor the music was made for me. So I’ll hush.

With its glorification of drugs, misogyny and violence, though, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Just who the $#@% was it made for?”

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