Dee Barnes Speaks On “Straight Outta Compton”
Another woman famously beaten by Dr. Dre has addressed the absence of his violent past in box office smash “Straight Outta Compton.” The backstory: in 1991, Dre, apparently displeased with the outcome of a report on NWA that Dee anchored, confronted the journalist at a showcase and ultimately slammed her head into a concrete wall, tried to throw her down a flight of stairs, kicked her, and stomped her fingers while she was on the floor. Dee says that while she doesn’t think her beating (or the multiple others he handed out to women) needed to be dramatized in the film, they should have been addressed somehow.
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. When I was sitting there in the theater, and the movie’s timeline skipped by my attack without a glance, I was like, “Uhhh, what happened?” Like many of the women that knew and worked with N.W.A., I found myself a casualty of Straight Outta Compton’s revisionist history.
Dre, who executive produced the movie along with his former groupmate Ice Cube, should have owned up to the time he punched his labelmate Tairrie B twice at a Grammys party in 1990. He should have owned up to the black eyes and scars he gave to his collaborator Michel’le. And he should have owned up to what he did to me. That’s reality. That’s reality rap. In his lyrics, Dre made hyperbolic claims about all these heinous things he did to women. But then he went out and actually violated women. Straight Outta Compton would have you believe that he didn’t really do that. It doesn’t add up.
Not only does Barnes say she still suffers migraines from the brutal incident, but her career was never the same after that night. She’s been unable to work full-time as a journalist, for every outlet’s fear of ruining their relationship with the billionaire music mogul in the present day:
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.
Most recently, I tried to get a job at Revolt. I’ve known Sean (Combs) for years and have the utmost respect for him. Still nothing. Instead of doing journalism, I’ve had a series of 9-5 jobs over the years to make ends meet.
WOW. Who had any idea that this one incident was still affecting her this much? Do you think F. Gary Gray and the producers/writers should have found a way to at least touch on this dark point of NWA’s rise to fame??