Warning: spoilers ahead
The long-awaited movie on iconic rap group N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton,” shows the meteoric rise of members Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, but it also holds a mirror up to events dominating the news cycle today, like the latest unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and numerous stories about excessive force used by police.
One of N.W.A.’s first big hits on their 1988 debut album Straight Outta Compton was “F — k tha Police.”
The song became a rallying cry for youth living in urban areas of the country — like N.W.A.’s home turf of Compton, California — that constantly endured police brutality and racial profiling.
In fact, the film depicts the birth of the song following the police harassing the group when standing outside of a recording studio.
Later in the movie they are ordered not to play “F — k tha Police” at a concert in Detroit. They do not abide and gun shots ring out while they perform the song, once more causing them to be handcuffed and taken to jail.
Chants of “F–k tha Police” have now changed to #BlackLivesMatter over the last year, but the tension between those living in urban areas of the country and the police are as high as ever.
Particularly since last weekend in Ferguson. Following the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown on Sunday, protests in Ferguson have carried on that have led to arrests and gunfire between citizens and police.
“Police in our society are trained to win at all costs. They’re not trained to uphold the law, to know your rights, to protect,” Ice Cube told The Daily Beast while doing press for “Straight Outta Compton,” in which he’s a producer. “Their thing is to
win — win the argument, win the struggle, win the scuffle. Win. And if you have to violate somebody’s rights, so be it. Win on the street — we’ll deal with it afterwards.”
While other movies may have attempted to put a positive, uplifting spin on the situation by the end of the movie, “Straight Outta Compton” doesn’t let you off the hook. The Rodney King beating, trial (where all the officers involved were found not guilty), and eventual riot are laid out front and center.
By the end of the movie you leave with the sobering reminder that in the 27 years following the release of the Straight Outta Compton album things haven’t gotten better when it comes to police relations in urban areas.
And as Ice Cube went on to tell The Daily Beast, it’s one of the points in the movie they wanted to drive home.
“The same thing happened before I was born; there was a riot in ’65 in Watts with the police,” said Ice Cube. “It happened when we were doing records, and it’s still happening today. It was important to show that nothing has changed.”
“Straight Outta Compton” opens in theatres on Friday.
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