I Finally Watched Straight Outta Compton, and I Was Intrigued by This

Remember the Academy Award controversy regarding the lack of African-American nominees a few years ago, with Straight Outta Compton at the top of the list of movies people felt should have been in consideration? I’ve been intrigued about the movie every since, and I finally watched it this past weekend.

My take? I enjoyed it. It felt a little like Entourage, but with a compelling message about race in America.

There’s one scene in the movie (spoilers about history) that left me with an internal debate, and I’m curious to hear your opinion about it.

In the film, the group N.W.A. is about to take the stage to a huge sold-out crowd in Detroit. Before the performance begins, they’re informed by the city’s police chief that if they play their hit song, “F___ the Police,” they will shut down the show and arrest the members of the group. Their reason is that the song incites violence against police, which echoes the sentiments of an FBI statement the group received as well.

However, during the show, Dre has something to say. The crowd goes wild, and the group gets arrested.

In the press conference the follows, the group says that the song isn’t intended to incite violence. Rather, it’s a commentary about the relationship between black men and the police. They emphasized their right to free speech.

I later looked up the lyrics to the song. While I agree with their statement about the racial commentary, it also includes lines like this that come across a bit like a call to action (or, at best, glorifying violence to officers of the law).

Beat a police out of shape
and when I’m finished, bring the yellow tape
To tape off the scene of the slaughter

I’ll give N.W.A. the benefit of the doubt and assume that their intention wasn’t to incite violence. But if you learned that something you created was unintentionally encouraging or even resulting in violence, would you continue to share that content? Are we morally obligated to stop showcasing content that incites violence, no matter the intended message? Or are people responsible for their interpretations and actions of your content?