In the wake of Straight Outta Compton‘s success at the box office, Dr. Dre‘s history of violent abusing women has become the target of renewed and rightful outrage. Leading the charge is Dee Barnes, a writer and journalist who was brutally beaten by Dre in 1991. Barnes penned an impassioned critique of SOC last week, making note of her own absence from a film meant to tell the story of Dre’s early days. It forced a response from Dre that, while decades late, appeared to carry a fair bit of sincerity and remorse.
“Bravo, Andre. Humility is true self-knowledge,” Barnes writes in a response to Dre’s admission of guilt, which was published on Gawker Monday. “I hope he meant it. I hope he represents these words in his life. I hope that after all these years, he really is a changed man,” she asserts.
As the essay continues, Barnes points to progress in Dre’s character and acknowledges a grown-up maturity, while never for a moment letting him off the hook for his actions. She also calls out the elephant in the room: Compton has become a massive Hollywood success; Dre is more visible than ever thanks to his growing role at Apple and brand new album; the need for PR damage control couldn’t be higher.
I understand people’s apprehension. The stakes are high now and money talks, loud. Is this is a PR move by Universal, which released Straight Outta Compton? After all, the film just crossed the $100 million mark its second weekend in theaters. Is it damage control by Apple, which can no longer ignore that if you take the “Beats by Dre” logo and remove the “S,” you get a double entendre describing several woman he just apologized to? Is Dre himself really remorseful or just saving face? To me, the answers to these questions matter less than the fact that Dre stepped up and performed his social responsibility by finally taking accountability for his actions. Who cares why he apologized? The point is that he did.
As the essay continues, Barnes notes that this is, in fact, the first time Dre has apologized on record to the women he has brutalized. It’s a matter of justice, human decency and respect. “This is bigger than me, and bigger than hip-hop. This is about respect and awareness. As a result of speaking on my personal experience with violence, I have been vilified,” she writes.
Barnes isn’t the only victim of Dre’s violent past. Michel’le, his former girlfriend and mother of his son Marcel, has described being beaten while the two were together. Referencing Dre’s new comments, she told the BBC “I didn’t ask for a public apology, and I think if he is going to apologize, he should do it individually…To just group us like we are nothing and nobody — I just don’t think it’s sincere. Treat us like we have names…[Dre’s] selling a movie. I just think it’s good PR at the moment.”