The Media’s ‘epic fail’ on Straight Outta Compton; and why Niggas have Attitudes.

The Mainstream media, including the so-called “liberal” media, is going to have to recognize this as a bona fide hit by all film measuring standards (not just black films). The media has been ignoring the financial significance relegating it to second page status and instead of focusing on the “bootstraps”, rags to riches theme of the story, most of the headlines focus on the negative aspects of their lives and the Tourette like obsession with Dee Barns and the “beat down”, that most fans of Hip-Hop had resolved ages ago. But now after doing these kinds of box office numbers for the second week in a row, the media must now recognize this films importance. Straight Outta Compton has become a benchmarks for dramatic films produced by blacks and with a predominantly Black cast. Why the media has decided to downplay the relevance of this Biopic, released in August which is Action-Adventure movie season and beating them all at the box office, is anyone’s guess. I have my suspicions. Straight Outta Compton’s $56.1 million first weekend box office results (2,757 theaters) surpassing “American Pie 2” (2001) in becoming the biggest-ever August debut for an R-rated movie and is on schedule to be the highest grossing Biopic, knocking 2005’s “Walk the Line” Johnny Cash life story to second place just above 2004’ “Ray”.

It is a travesty that none of the main stream media, bloggers and journalist have not crafted a story about how this film started out in only 900+ theaters, but based on word of mouth and rave reviews they added more screens, that the film had a poultry 30MM budget compared to U.N.C.L.’s 74MM budget and Mission: Rough Nation’s 110MM budget. Where are the follow up stories, that counter narrative of it being a fool’s errand and a waste of tax payer dollars regarding the increased police build-up in anticipation of violence at theaters that ran Straight Outta Compton on its opening week, an obvious ploy by butthurt police forces to keep white America away from the theaters, based on N.W.A’s monumental beef with the LAPD. Well, that stunt didn’t work because they came, and came back again. Besides last time I checked, the last two movies that incited mass killings, were both all white-cast, a Rom-Com and a Si-fi flick. I could stand a little longer on my soapbox and complain about how “Hollywood” has a systemic stupidly underestimating the power of black filmmaking, but I hope Straight Outta Compton success has given them some much needed insight. The most disappointing aspect of the lack of positive coverage of Straight Outta Compton is that the very same media that relishes stories about equality and justice and the lack of diversity in Hollywood, but have completely slept on the financial and social impact of this film. At the same time it’s time for Black folks to stop asking to be treated equal and start living like we are. This film is proof positive that we can compete with any genre, in any month and generate just as much or more box office money as non “urban” films, black filmmakers and actors no longer have to accept the bullshit excuses that studio executives have been giving us about our films, we got the proof that and we need to start acting like we know it’s all been a bunch of crap, and that given the opportunity our films are worthy of being made for all audiences. The movie was not just entertaining it was a beautifully eloquent piece of cinema, forgotten in many of the reviews are the dynamic imagery F. Gary Grey captured, the iconic riot scene where he masterfully framed with the red and blue rags, tied together in unity, with police in fully riot gear balanced in the background, which summarized an overlooked theme of the 1994 LA riots. Also, disregarded in narrative of the film is how these five kids, with no formal education, not generational wealth, with all the odds stacked against them were able to change the music landscape, and diversify what many considered a “fad” into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. There are a dozens of news stories that this single film could have inspired but the lazy, bigoted, narrow minds of today’s media picked the low hanging fruit of the adverse pieces of Straight Outta Compton and missed the sweet, ripe fruit at the top of the tree, of the founding members of LA Rap aka “gangsta’ rap and the director who masterfully wove their lives together in a harmonious blend of fact and fantasy, and a slice of Americana that rarely gets its just rewards.




1_Shonda Rhimes


For centuries the mainstream media has had carte blanche in drafting commentary on Black people, they have been allowed to portray Blacks from an obstructed vantage point and in most cases they don’t have the aptitude to delve into the pathology of Black culture. Which proved to be the case with Alessandra Stanley’s opening statement in her New York Times piece about TV magnate Shonda Rhimes, which suggest that Rhimes had somehow mastered the art of being a successful and respected producer and creator of hit shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, in spite of being a typical “Angry Black Woman”. The mainstream media has been responsible for inventing and then perpetuate stereotypes about Black people because up until very recently Blacks did not have the means or mass platform to voice our objections to the narrative generated by the media that cast blacks as either victims or victimizer, which largely went unchallenged. That was until the advent of social media, where responses to nonsense like Stanley’s commentary on Rhimes, is swift and potent. Black people now have a 140 characters rapid response vehicle that can reach the offender within seconds. Rhimes took the matter up immediately using the global megaphone that is twitter to rebut the perpetuation of the negative stereotype and “checked” Alessandra Stanley for her inaccurate characterization and her sloppy reporting. The Twitter machined began to roll over the New York Times when friends, supporters, colleagues and employees of Shonda chimed in, denouncing the article and its author, which prompted other news outlets to pick up the “Times Vs. The Angry Black Woman” debate that was waging on social media, the backlash forced The New York Times, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan to comment on the matter, Sullivan summed up the inflammatory remarks as Stanley being “out of touch.” Which opens up the logical solution, perhaps it’s long overdue for the Times and all mainstream media to reevaluate their editorial staff who did not have a clue and did not detect that Stanley’s comments were dripping with condescension and insults, neatly disguised in a blanket of praise for Rhimes’ accomplishments. If the media does not want to face a barrage of public condemnation for their lack of context and nuance when depicting Black people, then they will continue to suffer the public humiliation, by the wrath of the twitter-sphere.


Published by NovacaneMag

Creative Director

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