Saturday, January 30, 2016

Telling you straight .... outta Compton



Granted, I'm Canadian, as many of you know.  What you may not recognize is that we do tend to pay attention to controversies, news and politics south of our borders.

My first reaction to the blasphemy gone amok everywhere would be the fuss over the white out of the Oscars this year.    I thought:


  • let the best man or woman win.
  • it is the academy, peers, who votes on the nominees
  • color or gender should not sway nominees
  • the best performances are recognized
  • being nominated raises your value 
  • movies you may not have heard of inspire you to watch 
  • the big studios, i.e. most capital, gain the most attention
  • above, except if you're Oprah Winphrey
I was wrong.  I watched "Straight out of Compton" last night and was really impressed for many reasons:

  • I didn't know how RAP or HIP-HOP or GANSTA evolved until now
  • While I was in my 20s in the 1980s, this phenomena was emerging
  • The story itself is worth recognizing
  • The evolving characters transformed into big names in the music business
  • What they did for music was profound
  • We need this kind of music in our world, as musical journalism per se
  • There was a lot of racism, bias experienced these gifted musicians 
  • They had to be dedicated and passionate to keep on no matter the struggles
  • I like the music now (in the 80s I was probably tuned into David Bowie)

IMAGE COURTESY of http://www.hitfix.com


There was a grave oversight by the Oscar community to ignore this poignant film that is both historical and inspirational.  Although, I may not agree with the stand that black (that's what we call them in Canada since Afrocanadian hasn't been given as an option to African American) artists like Will Smith have taken by boycotting the Oscars.  By being there in person they ARE making a stand for artists of any color contribute to our entertainment.  Come on, we all have gone through days when we didn't want to go to school or work because we didn't agree with something, but we were forced to by our parents.  

You have got to be stronger than the issue at hand.  Don't align yourself with a statement that takes a side that you don't want forever to be associated with.  I vaguely recall Marlon Brando using his Oscar nod for creating sympathy for the cause of Native North Americans.  

Think about Leonardo Dicaprio's statements on Canada's oil just because he filmed at a location close to here.  All of a sudden, he is an expert.  Why not take a stand with class like Clint Eastwood did when filming his Oscar film "Forgiven" filmed close to my home in Calgary.  He captured the beauty and magnificence.  We aren't all roughnecks drilling for oil.  Some of us love where we are from and what that means.  We don't need a brief visitor like Dicaprio to insult the citizens of his host.



"Straight outta Compton" SHOULD have had some nominees for the Oscars.  It was breathtaking in its honesty and historical significance to how black lives mattered in bringing a whole new genre to our musical ears.  The cast transformed themselves into the heroes unfolded during the 80s, making a significant impact by its honest lyrics and reflection of the times.  Personally, the upheaval that groups like Led Zepplin and The Rolling Stones had on our older siblings, were lost until many years later.  We rode the short-lived disco wave but started the dance movement that allowed ABBA, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac to be  forever iconic in our minds.  While many of us were watching those artist, there was a musical revolution going on that we were just too self-absorbed to have noticed.  Have a look at this brief trailer:






I'm really glad I watched this movie.  It brought so much reality to the bias, racism that these wonderKIDS plowed through and brought the gift of musical journalism:  a voice of what was REALLY going on around us.  I agree, it shouldn't have been acceptable.  While it is easy to glance back shamefully noting that we may have been more than ignorant to the plight of these citizens.





I  stand behind Paul Giamatti's portrayal of a sleezy white manager who filled his own pockets long before his clients ever did:  I can just imagine how widespread this was.  I like how the film brought into the fold how wrong it was.  Some of us may have been aware, but not at the same capacity that black musicians and artists were ripped off.  For that fact alone, this film should have more widespread recognition for its statement alone.

"Straight outta Compton" is definitely worth a watch.