What movies deserve security?

by Andrew Hernandez (News Editor) – 9/22/15

Straight Outta Compton has driven talks of increased security
Straight Outta Compton has driven talks of increased security

Theater operators across the U.S. have heightened security for the release of Straight Outta Compton, a practice that unfairly profiles fans of popular 90s group N.W.A. and exhibits how unnecessary the security increases are for the movie.

Straight Outta Compton’s subject matter, a dramatized profile of popular rap artists, is nothing new. The 2009 movie Notorious followed Christopher Wallace’s climb to the top of the hip hop ladder in the mid 90s as the Notorious B.I.G. Even though the rapper was tragically murdered, theater operators never heightened security for the release of Notorious. There was also no security increase for Boyz n the Hood, a 1991 movie that follows three young men in South Central. The movie’s characters were loosely based off of the members of N.W.A., and the movie’s accurate portrayal of daily life in the ghetto is a message N.W.A. emphasized in their music and movie. The similar subject matter shared between movies, with only Straight Outta Compton receiving security increases, points to fans of Straight Outta Compton being specifically profiled as violent even when other audiences of similar movies were not.

Perhaps the most appalling problem of heightened security for N.W.A. is the similar treatment it will be receiving to movies that have had tragic events occur at their screenings. The June 2015 theater shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana that left two women dead and nine wounded during a showing of Trainwreck prompted an increase in security at three theaters in the immediate area but not across the nation. The 2012 theater shooting that took place in Aurora, Colorado at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises prompted a huge response in increased security across the country from deployed police officers and a distribution of safety checklists to theaters.

There have been no reported violent incidents occurring at a screening of Straight Outta Compton so far, and yet the movie is receiving a bigger security response than what was enacted for showings of Trainwreck in the aftermath of the shooting.

The screenings these tragic shootings happened at seem to be as random as the shootings themselves. Theater operators trying to preemptively heighten security for movies that they predict will yield violence is irresponsible. The irresponsibility is joined with profiling when movies like Straight Outta Compton receive these preemptive security strikes because of its perceived audience. With no prior incident history Straight Outta Compton deserves the same security treatment as Minions.