Cops and security officers are being staged outside theaters this weekend as the new film, “Straight Outta Compton,” which chronicles the rise of the influential rap group N.W.A, hits screens.
An important undercurrent in the film is the tension between the police and the African-American community, something that has special resonance given tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore and other hot spots, as well as the protests by the Black Lives Matter movement that have developed lately.
Police and social critics charge the new film not only whitewashes the violent history of a controversial hip hop act of the past, but could unleash a new wave of violence today.
N.W.A., an acronym meaning “Niggaz Wit Attitudes,” famously released a song titled “F*** Tha Police,” a song prominently featured in the film.
The film also features an incident when the band defied law enforcement’s order not to play the song and suggests N.W.A. channeled frustrations which led to the Los Angeles riots.
Universal is offering money for private security for theaters during the opening weekend for “Straight Outta Compton.”
And law-enforcement agencies in Los Angeles increased their presence at theaters showing the film, reportedly in response to requests from theater owners.
The movie comes at a time when many law enforcement officers already feel under siege and scared to defend themselves for fear of being accused of racism against black suspects.
Most recently, a detective in Birmingham, Alabama, was pistol whipped after hesitating during a confrontation with a suspect, and his injuries were used as a source of amusement for people on social networking.
Former New York City Police Officer John Cardillo, now the host of his own radio show on 1290 WJNO Palm Beach & iHeartRADIO, suggests the fears of law enforcement are well founded.
“The threat of violence is very real,” Cardillo told WND. “Police are not deploying additional manpower because of some ‘racist’ projection. My sources tell me that gang intelligence units are receiving solid actionable intelligence that Bloods gang members will target theaters in certain areas because of pro-Crip content in the film.”
“I believe there will be violence in some cities because of the nature of N.W.A.’s music,” Peterson commented. “The group was anti-police and their music promoted a gangster and thug mentality. As a result, the movie will attract a lot of angry young blacks looking for trouble.”
Reporter Colin Flaherty, author of “White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It,” has chronicled black mob attacks at shopping malls and movie theaters.
He joked, “It’s interesting to see all the movie theaters cranking up security at their theaters – I think that’s a case of profiling – but we’ll see how that works out this weekend.”
Flaherty believes the film is just the latest example of what he believes is the mainstreaming of anti-white hatred.
“That’s the message of my book and ironically the message of this movie – racial hostility is mainstream. You won’t even see anybody remark on that when they start talking about this movie. Generally, they are just going to shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Isn’t that cute? Those guys hate white people.’ Well, I don’t think it’s cute. I actually think it’s dangerous.”
Peterson also suggests the movie could promote hatred of whites and police.
“I would encourage black parents to keep their kids away. N.W.A.’s music and the gangster rap culture is negative and it reinforces hatred toward police and whites. It’s also a dangerous environment for unsuspecting young people who could potentially get shot or injured as a result of the potential violence that could take place between rival gangs and thugs going to see this movie.
“The film will validate the lie that police are the enemy and that police brutality is real. The police officers assigned to these theaters will more than likely be treated with disdain and may even be targeted by the thugs and the criminal element drawn to this movie.”
Both Cardillo and Flaherty noted the irony of an “anti-establishment” film honoring men who have become pillars of the cultural mainstream. One member of N.W.A., Ice Cube, is now an actor who stars in family comedies such as 2005’s “Are We There Yet?” Another member, Dr. Dre, is a producer in his own right who sold his audio products line, Beats, to Apple for reportedly more than $3 billion.
Cardillo observes even as these figures have become part of the corporate world, the lyrics and imagery of gangsta rap “glorify killing police, shooting others, and raping and killing women.”
He comments, “I think hypocrisy is the takeaway. If you want to be part of a thug culture that promotes these kinds of images, you can’t cry foul when the police and society still view you that way.”
Cardillo acknowledges N.W.A. has had a huge impact on American cultural life. However, he argues much of hip hop has actually had a negative impact on young African-Americans.
“I have no problem with movies being made about cultural icons, which Ice Cube and Dr. Dre certainly are. The problem is in how hip-hop has convinced many young black men that a life of crime leads to reward.”
In fact, Cardillo charges, this film specifically tells audiences violence and criminality leads to success.
“Movies depicting crime in other cultures, Scarface, Blow, Goodfellas, etc. typically depict the gangsters as protagonists turned antagonists who often wind up dead or in jail. This movie will show gang members going on to make hundreds of millions of dollars, even though they are a very fractional exception to the rule. In reality, most young black men who engage in gang and thug life do wind up dead or in jail.”
Cardillo cites some of N.W.A.’s lyrics:
“A young n*gga on the warpath, And when I’m finished, it’s gonna be a bloodbath, Of cops, dying in L.A,”
“And when illegally armed it’s called ‘packin’. Shoot a mother***er in a minute”
“So what about the b**ch who got shot? F**k her! You think I give a d**n about a b**ch? I ain’t a sucker!”
The former law enforcement officer asks rhetorically, “Can you be a fan of those lyrics while tweeting #BlackLivesMatter and #WarOnWomen, then accusing whites and conservatives of racism and misogyny?”
For his part, Flaherty predicts the larger glamorization of N.W.A. and what he believes is black hatred against whites will lead to disaster.
“I am really convinced what many people don’t know is how popular, how entrenched, how insidious this new black on white hostility is, whether it is in schools, whether it’s in churches, whether it’s on TV or whether it’s in movies, there’s an enormous amount of it doing an enormous amount of damage – and I just don’t see how this ends well.”