Bye Felicia: How ‘Straight Outta Compton’ Is Initiating a Conversation About Misogyny (Audio)
In the 1995 film Friday, the F. Gary Gray comedy starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, there is perhaps no more regularly quoted line than “Bye, Felicia,” a phrase that has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to today’s Internet culture. Common in hashtag form, the pop-culture reference is a throwback shout-out to a film that, for many, is a classic piece of Hip-Hop cinema and one that has once again appeared in discourse in the media.
Last week, Allison P. Davis wrote an op-ed for New York magazine’s digital outlet in which she explores #ByeFelicia’s popularity not only on the Internet, but also its appearance in Straight Outta Compton, another F. Gary Gray film indirectly starring Ice Cube (Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., plays his father in the biopic). Davis references a scene in the film in which a woman named Felicia is thrown out of a hotel suite in nothing but her underwear by Eazy-E’s character, an action which prompts Ice Cube’s character to say “Bye, Felicia.” Serving as a kind of inside joke for the audience, the line’s rebirth, for Davis, brought forth some thoughts about the depiction of women in the film; “I couldn’t quite see the comedic value in naked women getting pushed around, even in conjunction with everyone’s favorite hashtag,” she wrote. As she explains in the article, she chose to contact Gray to find out whether the story had any basis in reality, and writes that Gray informed her that “the ‘brilliant’ moment was fictitious and added spontaneously during a late-night shoot.”
Davis goes on to reference other aspects of the film which she feels did a disservice to women, including “failing to address Dr. Dre’s brutal assault of female journalist Dee Barnes in 1991. It fails to acknowledge the contributions of the female emcees like Ice Cube’s protégé Yo-Yo. The movie’s few female characters are either groupies at parties or selfless caregivers, i.e., mothers and doting wives.” Michel’le, Dr. Dre’s romantic partner at the time (also mother of his son), and a collaborator of N.W.A.’s has recently come forth regarding an abusive relationship with the band member. She too,is not portrayed in the film. Davis ends her article with more details about her conversation with Gray, in which he allegedly brought up the importance of referencing police brutality and avoiding being too politically correct in entertainment. However, the conversation about “Bye, Felicia” was not yet over, and just this morning Davis was featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” where she was asked to share her views on the film and its elements of misogyny.
When asked why she took issue with the inclusion of the “Bye, Felicia” punchline in the film, Davis shares “It’s slut-shaming, in a way. I think for a movie that omitted discussing and contextualizing a history of degradation of women, a brutality of women — to ignore that conversation and then to add a misogynistic moment for a punchline just felt really bad and really insensitive and thoughtless. I think it’s demonstrative of how society treats Black women in general.” She goes on to share her positive feelings about Hip-Hop and N.W.A.’s role in the promotion of Black culture, but her objective is summed up when she says “you can’t ignore, especially in this movie, how the culture degrades women.” Listen to her full interview here:
Earlier this month, in a Rolling Stone cover story alongside Ice Cube defended the misogyny in N.W.A.’s lyrics, more than 25 years since he was part of the writing team. “If you’re a bitch, you’re probably not going to like us,” he was quoted as saying. “If you’re a ho’, you probably don’t like us. If you’re not a ho’ or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable females. Just like I shouldn’t be jumping to the defense of no punks or no cowards or no slimy son of a bitches that’s men. I never understood why an upstanding lady would even think we’re talking about her.”
In March of this year, Dr. Dre believed Straight Outta Compton (the film) would show a different side of N.W.A.’s opinion towards women. As a guest on Big Boy’s Neighborhood, the production legend offered, “We really wanted to get across how we feel about women. There’s a big misconception [as far as] how we respect our women.”
Both Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are producers behind the making of the box office blockbuster.
Back to Allison P. Davis. As she references, Selma director Ava DuVernay recently tweeted “To be a woman who loves Hip-Hop at times is to be in love with your abuser.”
Where does a woman’s love for Hip-Hop meet a woman’s desire to fight the oppressive nature of misogyny? Did Straight Outta Compton promote the negative depictions of women or was it a realistic portrayal of male-female relationships?