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Straight Outta… Beverly Hills?

It’s been about a year since I first heard, and got excited about the development of the proposed N.W.A. biopic, Straight Out of Compton. Since then, there’s been little to no news about the film until this past weekend.

Unfortunately, Straight Outta Compton made headlines not because people are just as excited to see signs of advancement on the project as I am, but because Andrea Berloff, the person hired to write it is White… and *gasps* female!

“Having a White writer on Black-themed projects, especially biopics, is a fairly recent trend,” read an article in the Hollywood Reporter. “Especially noteworthy is that the person tackling the N.W.A. adaptation is a White woman.”

“Especially noteworthy,” huh?

Now of course there are a few sides to this argument:

Who cares if the person writing the film is a White female? What difference does that make?

She’s obviously a qualified writer. She’s responsible for penning the screenplay for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center and The Fugees (an adaptation of a New York Times article about a group of international refugee soccer kids who settle in Atlanta). She’s not just some White girl off the street. She’s a professional!

There are plenty of people who could tell you everything there is to know about N.W.A. but does that mean they’re necessarily qualified to write this film? No. But Berloff is. And what does race have to do with anything? How would you feel if someone told you you couldn’t do something because of your race/gender?

While the other school of thought is thinking more along the lines of:

Are they seriously about to let a White woman write about N.W.A… N.W.A.!?!!?!?!?

Berloff’s race and gender should disqualify her automatically. How can a White woman ever fully grasp the history, importance, and significant of N.W.A.’s presence to present it accurately? After all, there is a very long history of Whites being ignorant to the value of Black culture and/or becoming involved with it and manipulating it for their own benefit.

There are movies based on Martin Luther King, Richard Pryor and Rick James, all in the works right now and all of them are slated to be documented by Whites. You don’t see Black writers working on major films about Whites, and even when it comes to Black films they’re still not writing them. Is it that hard to find qualified Black writers? And N.W.A. of all subjects? With their notoriously incendiary lyrics and controversial history it seems like they couldn’t have placed anyone more opposite on the project.

And then there’s my thoughts:

If Cube and Tomika Woods-Wright (Eazy-E’s widow) are on board with it, who cares?

I mean as long as they don’t go stretching the truth like certain biopics (…yeah, I said it) who cares?

What I’d really like to know is, how much involvement will Jerry Heller, Dre, Yella, and MC Ren etc. have with the movie? We let Diddy sell us dreams about Biggie in Notorious, are we going to have that happen again with Straight Outta Compton? I sure hope not.

Being Black doesn’t necessarily qualify to know anything more about N.W.A. than the next person. However, I would like to know how much Ms. Berloff knows about hip-hop and more importantly what are her attitudes towards it? I’d hope that because she signed on to write it, she’d have some interest in the subject and not just taking on the project for a paycheck. Forget her gender/race what is her history and what are her motives?

This is a great story to tell and I just don’t want anyone to fuck it up…

What do you think? Does it matter that she’s White? How do you feel about it? —Brooklyne Gipson

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