May 2, 2010

Screenwriter Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center) is penning Straight Outta Compton, which is the tale of seminal rap group NWA.  I’ll let THR give the brief overview of Non-White-People with Attitude (that’s what I’ve been told the “N” stands for):

NWA included drug dealer turned label founder Eazy-E, young disc jockey Dr. Dre and the politically bent Ice Cube, plus MC Ren and DJ Yella. Their 1988 groundbreaking album, “Straight Outta Compton”, introduced gangsta rap to the world and triggered sales of 9 million units.  Naturally, egos and jealousies surfaced along with violence, charges of anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia.  Eazy-E’s death from AIDS caused the ex-members to reconcile.

Hit the jump for more on the story.  Oh, and Berloff is a white woman penning what could arguably be called a “black-themed” project (the side arguing it isn’t would be comprised of dumbasses).  You can read my thoughts on that after the jump as well.

Ice Cube and Matt Alvarez are producing along with Tomica Woods, Eazy-E’s widow.  I’m wondering if this means the film will be more sympathetic to Cube and Mr. E. Does the story get told from their perspective?

As for the not-Blackness of Ms. Berloff, we come once again to the tricky question of racial authorship.  We reported in January that Ronald Harwood would be writing the first Martin Luther King Jr. biopic.  Mr. Harwood is white.  So are Sheldon Turner, who penned a draft of the Rick James project Super Freak, and Brad Kane who wrote the draft of the Richard Pryor project that attracted white director Bill Condon.  But does that matter?  Does a personal racial connection matter if the story is good?  Or could it be better if the writer and/or director shared a racial heritage that no one outside of that race can truly understand?  Ms. Berloff is writing a movie about a group whose initials stand for “Niggas with Attitude,” (I was misinformed about the “N”).  However, can/does Ms. Berloff go out and openly say “niggas”?  It certainly isn’t deemed socially acceptable.

I honestly don’t have an answer to whether or not it’s a good idea to have someone write about the people and events that are another race’s touchstones.  Sound off in the comments, people.  It’s a discussion worth having.

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