Straight Outta Compton exceeded expectations when it made #1 at the box office, bringing in nearly $60 million its opening weekend following it August 14 release. Many critics of the film however, feel as though there were important pieces missing from the group’s biopic, including group member Dr. Dre’s acts of violence against women. One of those alleged victims was reporter Dee Barnes. She was attacked by the rapper/producer in January 1991 when accused of disrespecting N.W.A. on an interview she had with ex-member Ice Cube. Another publicly known example is his ex-girlfriend, labelmate and mother to his son, Michel’le Toussaint. In an interview with Newsweek she said that Dre “kicked her and broke her ribs, injuring her in such a way that her ribs didn’t heal properly.”
On August 21 , Dr. Dre made a statement surrounding the allegations of his abusive past.
“Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did…I apologize to the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”
Since this statement has been published, I have been watching social media for their responses to his public apology. I’ve seen a plethora of reactions, ranging from people thinking he’s doing this for only for publicity and it’s not genuine to people who are glad he spoke out publicly condemning the incidents. Some have even said that he owes more than an apology to black women. Darned if you do, if you don’t. I am energized though to see these conversations stirring and evoking opinion and emotion but to me, Dr. Dre doesn’t owe us anything.
In regards to the apology, I believe it was sincere. People who are in their 40s and up, remember when the incident actually happened but for some youngins, this is a revelation to us and Dre wanted to readdress this, which makes sense due to timeliness of the movie. At the time of the attacks, Dr. Dre was in his mid-20s and he was bout that life. The drugs, the alcohol, the guns, the violence, the women…that’s all he knew growing up in the streets he came straight outta, Compton. The same crude lyrics that took his group to the top of the record charts was a recount of their reality. So to be surprised and appalled that his beatings matched his beats was having high expectations of his character at the time. He responded to these women the way the hood taught him to, without respect.
Following the unfortunate incident with Barnes (which was settled out of court) and the abusive relationship with Michel’le (no criminal charges were made against him), Dre has since married his wife Nicole Threatt in 1996 and hasn’t been in any other reported domestic cases. In his statement he said, “I’m doing everything I can so I never resemble that man again.” He has lived proof of that. When an inmate serves his time in jail and is released back into society, they are believed to be rehabilitated and trusted to live an honest life moving forward. In Dre’s case, these past 25 years of his performance has showcased that he’s left gritty, violent past behind him and has become a better man from it. We do not know if or what counseling he has gone through, what prayers he has said at night and what guilt he may carry in his heart. We can go by his word. Unfortunately in the court of public opinion, if your performance is not satisfying to the masses, you will be guilty until proven otherwise…or just forever guilty.
I support the women affected by his abuse being vocal and should definitely use their platform to speak out against domestic abuse as a whole to educate and empower women on how to respond and heal from their experience. However, I don’t believe it needed to be in the movie although it was supposed to be initially. As Michel’le had stated, “This [violence]wasn’t told in the story because it shouldn’t have been, because it’s their story,” Michel’le added. “And this is my story.”
Some demand he gives back to charities for women victims of domestic abuse. That has yet to be taken action up on, but he is going to give back to Compton, which is still a good deed being made to his community, which will be positively impacting young future men and women. Although it would be a great example as a celebrity publicly convicted of these alleged crimes if he was to give to those other organizations, I rather he donates to what he believes to and not what he’s forced to and let him do it naturally. I also hope that one day he apologizes to those women, if he hasn’t yet and these women can forgive not to move on, but to heal. And if some women really feel compelled to take a stand against him, then don’t buy his headphones or support him in any way.
We can’t dictate what a person’s response should be. We can’t dictate what a person’s heart should feel. We shouldn’t only look at a portion of someone’s life but their entire body of work as we would want someone to look at us.
photo credits: E! Online, Jason Kempin/Getty Images, Twitter