How Straight Outta Compton’s Director Is Purposefully Ignoring Violence Against Women

Dee Barnes has written an article for Gawker titled Here’s What’s Missing From Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up. Here’s an excerpt…

Straight Outta Compton...
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Straight Outta Compton...
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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.

Gary was the one holding the camera during that fateful interview with Ice Cube, which was filmed on the set of Boyz N the Hood. I was there to interview the rapper Yo Yo.  Cube was in a great mood, even though he was about to shoot and he was getting into character.

Cube went into a trailer to talk to Gary and Pump It Up! producer Jeff Shore.  I saw as he exited that Cube’s mood had changed. Either they told him something or showed him the N.W.A footage we had shot a few weeks earlier.  What ended up airing was squeaky clean compared to the raw footage.  N.W.A were chewing Cube up and spitting him out.  I was trying to do a serious interview and they were just clowning—talking shit, cursing.  It was crazy.

Right after we shot a now-angry Cube and they shouted, “Cut!” one of the producers said, “We’re going to put that in.”  I said, “Hell no.”  I wasn’t even thinking about being attacked at the time, I was just afraid that they were going to shoot each other.  I didn’t want to be part of that.

“This is no laughing matter,” I tried telling them.  “This is no joke.  These guys take this stuff seriously.”  I was told by executives that I was being emotional.  That’s because I’m a woman.  They would have never told a man that.  They would have taken him seriously and listened.

It was that interview that was the supposed cause of Dre’s attack on me, as many of his groupmates attested.  My life changed that night.  I suffer from horrific migraines that started only after the attack. I  love Dre’s song “Keep Their Heads Ringin”—it has a particularly deep meaning to me.  When I get migraines, my head does ring and it hurts, exactly in the same spot every time where he smashed my head against the wall.  People have accused me of holding onto the past; I’m not holding onto the past.  I have a souvenir that I never wanted.  The past holds onto me.

+‘Straight Outta Compton’ Almost Beats ‘Ant-Man’, $56 Million Opening Weekend

People ask me, “How come you’re not on TV anymore?” and “How come you’re not back on television?”  It’s not like I haven’t tried.  I was blacklisted.  Nobody wants to work with me.  They don’t want to affect their relationship with Dre.  I’ve been told directly and indirectly, “I can’t work with you.”  I auditioned for the part that eventually went to Kimberly Elise in Set It Off.  Gary was the director.  This was long after Pump it Up!, and I nailed the audition.

Gary came out and said, “I can’t give you the part.” I asked him why, and he said, “‘Cause I’m casting Dre as Black Sam.” My heart didn’t sink, I didn’t get emotional; I was just numb.

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14 Responses

  1. Name2

    Sentences we never finished reading:

    Dee Barnes has written an article for Gawker […]

  2. lroosemusic

    Nina – I think it’s fair to say that at least a portion of hip hop culture doesn’t mind/embraces misogyny, including violence against women.

    Folks like Dre and Chris Brown will continue to be successful because the circles in which they move do not consider violent acts against those weaker than the perpetrator to be an issue. Sadly, no amount of broadcasting this to the sane segment of population will change that.

  3. Rex2016

    I think you is being very unfair to director Gary Grey

    Im sorry but it would have been a complete disaster for Gary Grey to cast both Dee Barnes and Dr Dre in the movie “Set it off”

    not only would is been terrible PR for the film
    it would have been a nightmare to deal with both those two being on the same set

    I do agree that it was a mistake for Gary not address Dee Barnes in Straight Outta Compton:
    But I think he made the right call by not casting her in “Set it off”

  4. Tim F.

    I’m all for Dee getting her story out (but I see no reason to pillory Dre or particularly Apple or anyone behind the Straight Outta Compton movie for it for something that happened a quarter of a century ago), but Dee isn’t really helping herself… She’s been blackballed from TV and movies via Dre? Seriously? She had an extremely minor rap career that she mostly propelled through a radio DJ job and then she parlayed that into a very minor tv hosting role on a second rate hip hop show on Fox. She’s NEVER had a single dramatic role on tv or film. In fact, it could easily be said that any career she’s had can be attributed to being friends with many rappers who were more violent, immoral, criminal than Dre and/or directly to Dre through the West Coast Rap All-Stars.

    F. Gary Gray meanwhile grinded for years as a camera man, garnered early success as a music video director with Ice Cube (where was Dee when Gary and Cube were working together for five years + when they clearly weren’t down with NWA anymore?), Cypress Hill, TLC, and many more, established himself with Friday as a major movie director and has been fairly successful since with a major movie every few years… Suggesting that an entire industry of radio, tv, and film has blackballed here because they are all connected to Dre is ridiculous. The 80s, 90s, and 00s are littered with flameouts who had their 3-minutes of fame.

    • Tim F.

      In fact, claiming she would have had Kimberly Elise’s role is in Set It Off is just sad. Sure, it was her first major role and she is the least known of the 4 (Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah, Vivica Foxx), but Elise has clearly established herself as a capable, supporting character in film. Dee could spend another 30 years hermetically preserved at her age in 1992 and never get on Lifetime, no matter who the director or their connections to Dre.

      • MamaChitChat Chitterling

        So, Tim, you are saying that Dee Barnes has lied about F. Gary Gray, the camera behind PUMP IT UP, said to her? An aside, why didn’t Dre attack Ice Cube, Gray, the show’s producers, or any other man he was beefing with? Why didn’t he attack Suge? The whole domestic violence thing makes him look truly weak, especially in light of who was really behind his anger. Fascinating.

        • Tim F.

          Yes, I am saying that Dee is very likely lying about what Gray said to her. Yes, I am.

          As to your other questions, I’m unclear why you are posing them to me. I imagine the answer is pure stupidity, randomness, and, yes, ease of target. None of this is fascinating; it is old, pathetic, and unfortunately common place.

          • Tim F.

            Oh, I would add: Dre and Cube did fight. And I don’t know how well Dre knew anyone else behind Pump It Up, but he (and other members of NWA and the larger crew) did know Dee as a personal friend and likely felt betrayed. Do I say that as a defense of him? No. Do I think a man being violent against a woman in anyway is pathetic and weak? Yes. Do I think Dre found her to be an easy target (but also felt truly, personally betrayed)? Yes.

  5. lroosemusic

    Tim F – Are attacks on Cosby’s character equally unwarranted because he committed his acts a quarter century ago as well? He’s as unapologetic as Dre for his acts.

    I’m Curious as to your opinion.

    • Tim F.

      Where did I say it was an “unwarranted attack”? I said Dee has every right to get her story out. I happen to know her story from when it happened (and many, many, many more far worse stories regarding equally successful rap stars) so it does get a little tedious and I don’t really need to read about it again every other day (oh my god! A now successful rap star was once a violent criminal? You’ve blown my mind, do tell?), but I have no problem with Dee telling her story. I just think she’s starting to look bad claiming she would have a successful tv and film career if not for Dre when she’s never had a tv and film career and know full well that there is much in tv and film that is not under the influence of Dre. It’s certainly not unwarranted, and I never would and did not say that, as it is 100% true.

      • Tim F.

        Also: as I’ve said in the past about articles attacking Apple because of Dre: yes, I do think that’s ridiculous. I’m not going to stop purchasing Apple products after 30+ years of ownership because of Dre’s past deeds in EXACTLY the same way that I’m not going to stop eating Jello just because Cosby was a serial rapist.

        • lroosemusic

          Hi TimF,

          You said you saw no reason to pillory Dre for something that happened a quarter century ago. Unless pillory does not mean what you think it means, I think you meant the attacks on him today are unwarranted.

          Regarding Cosby, your analogy is not accurate because he is no longer their spokesman. If he was still their spokesman you’d better believe I and many others would be calling for a boycott on Jello pudding until he was removed.

          Until this morning’s half-hearted mea culpa in the NY Times (which was done because the story wouldn’t go away), Dre was completely unapologetic. His weighing in on the topic consisted of something along the lines of “she got what she deserved”.

          People like him and Cosby don’t deserve our money, and there shouldn’t be a statute of limitations on despicable crimes like these when the perpetrator shows no remorse.

  6. Name2

    How DMN’s editors are purposely ignoring racism in the ‘Compton movie theaters’ thread

    Yup. I like the sound of that.

    A lot.

  7. Stever

    I heard someone say – that Dee Barnes is such a hipster, she had Beats by Dre way back in the 80s! Hahahahahaha….