[PODCAST] #371: Thaddeus Russell – Renegade Themes and Missed Opportunities In Straight Outta Compton


Thaddeus Russell is back to discuss the recent N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton. When I first read Thad's book, A Renegade History of the United States, I couldn't stop thinking about N.W.A, and when I finally saw Straight Outta Compton I immediately thought of Thaddeus Russell. I have also been rethinking my first appraisal of the film and its subjects; there was too much hero worship, and I felt like I superimposed onto N.W.A a libertarian enlightenment that probably wasn't really there. "Heroification" is subtraction of peoples' flaws from their story. However, the identification of someone as a "renegade" doesn't require that.

Our discussion centers around two central topics:
Missed Opportunities - Examination of Misogyny
Renegade Themes -N.W.A fought by ascetics, Protestant work ethic, anti-police, N.W.A impervious to being shamed

Video Highlights:

Bumper Music:
"Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It" Ice Cube
"Fuck tha Police(A Tribute to N.W.A)" Scotty Too Hottie

Look Closer:
Thaddeus Russell's Site - www.thaddeusrussell.com

Previous School Sucks Show With Thaddeus Russell - http://schoolsucksproject.com/category/podcast/a-renegade-history-course-with-thaddeus-russell/

Unintended Pregnancy in the United States - http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Unintended-Pregnancy-US.html

N.W.A: American Gangstas - http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/n-w-a-american-gangsters-20150827?page=11

Thaddeus Russell's Reason.com Archive - http://reason.com/people/thaddeus-russell/all

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One comment

  1. Profile photo of Trevor

    I have really enjoyed these various episodes about the Straight Outta Compton film and relating it to various freedom movements and history. However, in this episode, I was somewhat disappointed by what I perceived as Thaddeus Russell’s oversimplification of the reasons for the breakdown of black nuclear families in the 70s and 80s,

    I agree with Brett that the introduction of the welfare state and LBJ’s Great Society contributed greatly to the number of single mother households. However, there were also a number of historical factors and I think contribute to single mother households.

    In the late 60s and early 70s drafted soldiers were returning from the war in Vietnam, many of whom had developed drug addictions. Blacks specifically however, were returning to America without any kind of economic, community or psychological support systems. Men traditionally are of value to the household in direct relation to the amount of economic subsistence and protection they can provide.

    At the same time, the black political groups of the 1960s such as the Black Panthers and the Us Organization were breaking apart, being infiltrated by programs such as COINTELPRO. Add to this the assassinations of MLK and Malcolm X, and the civil rights movement was basically extinguished in the 70s.

    In LA specifically, the fallout of these political movements led directly to the creation of the Crips gang founded by Raymond Washington and Stanley “Tookie” Williams. A few years later the Bloods gang formed in response. A great documentary called “Bastards of the Party” directed by Cle “Bone” Sloan (who also was in the movie Training Day) really goes into the history of this.

    I think that this combination of returning black soldiers, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of psychological support for the trauma experienced by soldiers, the collapse of the civil rights movement, the rise of black gang culture, the influx of cocaine and the crack epidemic, the disproportionate number of blacks incarcerated for drug crime, and the welfare state all contributed to the breakdown of black nuclear families.

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