LAist- Straight Outta Compton may be breaking box office records across the country, but the city where the film is set is one place you can't see it.
That's because there are no movie theaters in Compton. Sure, movie goers from Compton could travel north to South Gate or east to Paramount or south to Carson—or really almost anywhere else across L.A. County—to see the film that took inspiration from their own city. But locals—or anyone looking for a meta-movie-going experience—will have to head, well, straight out of Compton to see what everyone is talking about.
“It’s a low income area, it’s been heavily dis-invested in,” USC professor of sociology Manuel Pastor tells CBS LA. “When you live in a community that doesn’t have that kind of retail, it’s a sign that the community is devalued and people within the community feel devalued.”
I have to admit, the last thing I expected to hear upon reading the headline that you can't see 'Straight Outta Compton' in Compton is that there is no movie theatre in Compton. In retrospect, that seems much more likely than any other possible reason for why they wouldn't be showing the film there. However, it just didn't dawn on me that a city, no matter how barren and poor it may be, could be without a movie theatre in 2015. The release of a film that basically portrays Compton as the breeding ground for drugs, violence, and police brutality in Southern California is a hell of a time to start complaining about it's business landscape, but I guess you've got got to take the publicity when you can. It's not too often people are worried about the goings-on in Compton, so if it takes a groundbreaking rap group's biopic to do it then so be it. Personally, if I were a resident I would be more than happy to venture outside the city limits to catch a movie. Shit, I would be more than happy to venture outside the city limits for just about anything. The less time spent in Compton, the better, as far as I am concerned. I guess even the most impoverished of areas have people that are proud to call them home. Even people that aren't extremely successful rap artists.
Hey, the main problem with biographical films is you never know if they are true to the actual story or not. It's easy to use multi million dollar movie budgets to make a person or a city look either much better or, in this case, much worse than it is. Well, if that were a concern with 'Straight Outta Compton' then everyone will be glad to know that the city that I saw on the big screen last night is very much a city that wouldn't have a movie theatre. So Compton residents may have to elongate that commute by 5 more minutes to get to the most local Cineplex, but at least their city is being depicted properly to millions upon million of viewers. That may be a small victory, but it's a victory none the less. If you are going to be a region that doesn't have the ability to show N.W.A.'s movie, you might as well be the region that produced the threatening and horrifying circumstances that ultimately made their music as innovative as it was. Hell, as negative as it is, this story may be the most positive piece of news to come out of Compton in decades. You may not be able to watch it in Compton, but this movie doesn't happen without it's Compton's existence. The fact that the city is so poverty stricken is what made it important to the story, if anything it's just sad that it hasn't come much farther since then.