Dee Barnes has broken her silence on Straight Out Of Compton's exclusion of her assault at the hands of Dr. Dre.
If you've followed Dr. Dre's career, you probably know something about his assault of hip-hop artist and Pump It Up! host Dee Barnes, but as these things tend to get buried, you probably don't know the whole story.
The issue has resurfaced after a decision was made to exclude the incident from recent N.W.A. biopic, "Straight Outta Compton." Director F. Gary Gray has argued that the assault was not a part of the N.W.A. story he was trying to tell, but his reluctance to discuss the topic has been met with further criticism.
For those unfamiliar, the story is this: a 1990 episode of Pump It Up! (which Barnes hosted at the time) closed with footage of Ice Cube dissing the members of his former group (he had left N.W.A. at this point). Some time later, Dr. Dre confronted Barnes at a listening party over the airing of the clip, where he is said to have smashed her head against a wall, and continued to beat her in the women's bathroom.
Barnes has now broken her silence on the film with an essay penned for Gawker, in which she revealed that Gray actually served as a cameraman for Pump It Up!, and that he was partially responsible for the Ice Cube clip airing, which she feels played a role in his hesitance to include the event in the movie.
That’s right. F. Gary Gray, the man whose film made $60 million last weekend as it erased my attack from history, was also behind the camera to film the moment that launched that very attack. He was my cameraman for Pump It Up! You may have noticed that Gary has been reluctant to address N.W.A.’s misogyny and Dre’s attack on me in interviews. I think a huge reason that Gary doesn’t want to address it is because then he’d have to explain his part in history. He’s obviously uncomfortable for a reason.
Gary was the one holding the camera during that fateful interview with Ice Cube, which was filmed on the set of Boyz N the Hood. I was there to interview the rapper Yo Yo. Cube was in a great mood, even though he was about to shoot and he was getting into character.
Cube went into a trailer to talk to Gary and Pump It Up! producer Jeff Shore. I saw as he exited that Cube’s mood had changed. Either they told him something or showed him the N.W.A. footage we had shot a few weeks earlier. What ended up airing was squeaky clean compared to the raw footage. N.W.A. were chewing Cube up and spitting him out. I was trying to do a serious interview and they were just clowning—talking shit, cursing. It was crazy.
Right after we shot a now-angry Cube and they shouted, “Cut!” one of the producers said, “We’re going to put that in.” I said, “Hell no.” I wasn’t even thinking about being attacked at the time, I was just afraid that they were going to shoot each other. I didn’t want to be part of that. “This is no laughing matter,” I tried telling them. “This is no joke. These guys take this stuff seriously.” I was told by executives that I was being emotional. That’s because I’m a woman. They would have never told a man that. They would have taken him seriously and listened.
She later goes on to reveal that she has suffered migraines since the assault, which is not the only lasting effect it's had on her, as she suggests she's found it harder to find work in the industry ever since.
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.
The full story, which is very much worth your time, can be read at Gawker.