Even before the box office success of Straight Outta Compton, criticism of Dr. Dre’s past as a domestic abuser constantly was rehashed. One of his victims was artist and Pump It Up host Dee Barnes, who has watched and reflected on the movie for Gawker.com.
If you’re unaware, Dre savagely beat up Barnes at a record release party back in 1991 (he addressed it in a recent Rolling Stone interview). That didn’t make it into the movie.
As for her story for Gawker, it’s a doozy. Weaved into the narrative are tales of being blacklisted, friends turning to foes and the struggle of a hindered career ever since that fateful night in 1991, despite essentially coming up with all the members of N.W.A.
I never experienced police harassment until I moved to California in the ‘80s. The first time it happened, I had just left a house party that erupted in gunfire. A cop pulled me over and ordered me out of the car. I was 19, naive, and barefoot. When I made a move to get my shoes, the cop became aggressive. He manhandled me because he supposedly thought I was grabbing for a weapon. I’m lucky he didn’t shoot me. There I was, face down on the ground, knee in my back. In June, I was reminded of what happened to me when I watched video of a police officer named Eric Casebolt grabbing a 15-year-old girl outside the Craig Ranch North Community Pool in Texas, slamming her body to the ground, and putting his knee in her back.
Three years later—in 1991—I would experience something similar, only this time I was on my back and the knee was in my chest. That knee did not belong to a police officer, but Andre Young, the producer/rapper who goes by Dr. Dre. When I saw the footage of California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Andrew straddling and viciously punching Marlene Pinnock in broad daylight on the side of a busy freeway last year, I cringed. That must have been how it looked as Dr. Dre straddled me and beat me mercilessly on the floor of the women’s restroom at the Po Na Na Souk nightclub in 1991.
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.
According to Barnes she has been unable to get a job in journalism as fall out from the incident, despite being the victim.
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.
Also, F. Gary Gray, who directed Straight Outta Compton and who she calls a “true opportunist,” was her camera man for Pump It Up.
Read the full story over at Gawker.com.
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