CNN has proven once and for all how out of touch they are with reality during their recent discussion on the release of rap group N.W.A‘s biopic, Straight Outta Compton. The anchors seemed flabbergasted by the fact that there was in fact no violence at theaters during the movie’s opening weekend, and by its popularity.
Straight Outta Compton recounts the rise of the famous group during the worst years of the crack epidemic, and illustrates how the brutal realities of growing up during the crack epidemic and the culture of violence that accompanied it led to the creation of gangster rap as a form of frustrated self-expression. Police brutality and racial discrimination form a large part of that frustration and thus are major themes throughout both the music and the film- which prompted CNN’s “analysis.”
Dancing around the issue with the subtlety of a lumberjack, CNN host Ashleigh Banfield, with a hint of disappointment in her voice, remarks that “Some movie theaters were worried about violence when Straight Outta Compton hit the screen. Instead, it only led to longer lines, ticket lines and some big money, too.” She then goes on to discuss the heightened security at certain theaters in anticipation of the film with former law enforcement officer Cedric Alexander.
Ignoring the slew of lone-wolf gun massacres that have taken place in movie theaters recently, Banfield decided to paint this “discussion” in a racial light, heavily implying that the depictions of police brutality and the anti-police sentiments that are featured in the film would somehow make moviegoers become overwhelmed with a need to attack symbols of authority. It is a clear appeal to the long-entrenched and despicably offensive stereotype of the animalistic black. It is highly doubtful that media sources were concerned that white men would suddenly be overcome with violent urges against Arabs after viewing American Sniper.
Mr. Alexander defends the police and gives a one-sided complaint that the police force felt “hurt” because of the group’s lyrics, but there is very little discussion of the actual socioeconomic realities of systematic racial discrimination and concentrated economic disenfranchisement that led to the war-zone situation in early ’90s South Central Los Angeles.
It just goes to show how twisted the corporate media’s worldview is- a lack of violence is suddenly an oddity worthy of discussion while completely missing the point of the discussion entirely.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.