Part of the reason why I was so confused as to why Straight Outta Compton was completely overlooked was how similar it was Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant…
THEY ARE BOTH SURVIVAL FILMS
Check out the log lines for both movies:
While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back home while avoiding natives on their own hunt.
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eric Wright and the other members of NWA must survive the mean streets of Compton, abject poverty, gang violence, drug culture, and police brutality, to name a few, to band together to start a record to that will revolutionize hip hop as we know today.
Hugh Glass must survive against his environment that wants to destroy him. Four young black men in Compton must survive against their environment that wants to destroy them. Hugh Glass must survive against a freakish snowstorm, hunger, and attacks from the wild. As stated above, the young black men must survive against a ghetto that acts as a retentive snare, pulling them down like crabs in a barrel.
THE BEAR & THE POLICE
The most talked about scene in The Revenant is the bear attack. The bear attack in S.O.C. is largely the villainous and racist Compton police whose sole mission is to dehumanize and step on the throats of any black man in their way. The bear attacks with sharp claws and teeth, and brute strength. The Compton police attack with guns, clubs, pepper spray, and verbal abuse designed to castrate and dehumanize. After the vicious attack, Hugh Glass is left for dead. After a police attack, a young black male is not only scraping himself off the ground, he is left to sort out the anger of being violated and mistreated by the very men and women whose mission is to serve and protect. He is then forced to rearrange the order of things, supplanting the will of God with the will of the Compton police.
I understand if you get your kicks from watching a man survive in the wild. However, there is a different wild on the mean streets of our toughest neighborhoods. In place of high winds, you have bullets. In place of animal attacks, you have the police raids. No water? Try no food in the fridge. Extreme cold for a spell? Try no heat for the winter.
The Academy overlooked a gem in S.O.C. for the more obvious and star-studded production. They were caught with their pants down on this one. What is ironic is how similar the pictures are. Both central characters must survive against all odds. Both central characters are on a long and hard journey. Lastly, both central characters must conquer their environment in order to make it out alive.