3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Dee Barnes, Dr. Dre, & Stephen Colbert

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

Here’s what’s missing from Straight Outta Compton (8/18/15, Gawker): The past week brought a fascinating example of a shifting narrative.

The movie Straight Outta Compton had arrived with much fanfare and positive reviews, as well as a new album from hip-hop legend Dr. Dre. But many began pointing out what the movie had left out: Dr. Dre’s history of violence against women.

The most notorious victim? Dee Barnes, who hosted a hip-hop show called Pump It Up. Barnes has rarely been heard from since her run-in with Dr. Dre, but she amplified her voice in a serious way this week with an opinion piece for Gawker about her experience. She came forward with a honest look at what she went through and continues to face.

In doing so, Barnes provided some much-desired context to a movie based in history.

Dr. Dre apologizes to “the women I’ve hurt” (8/21/15, New York Times): The biggest effect of Barnes’ column?

It drew a public apology from Dr. Dre.

Just three days after Barnes’ piece in Gawker, Dre provided a statement to the New York Times, saying among other things: “I apologize to the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”

Fielding an apology would have been accomplishment enough for the Times, but Joe Coscarelli goes further with an article that delves further into the context of the issue. He interviews several women who claimed to be victims of Dr. Dre’s abuse, and Coscarelli presents their accounts in addition to Dre’s apology.

The whole thing is powerful reading — and a way for the masses to examine an issue that has bubbled to the surface in a very short time.

The late, great Stephen Colbert (8/17/15, GQ): My final “great story” of the week deals with a different celebrity.

Joel Lovell of GQ presents a provocative and introspective profile of Stephen Colbert, who debuts as the new host of the Late Show next month. While Lovell certainly is handed a thoughtful guest — Colbert spits gem after gem of unique perspective — the author also elicits such responses with a probing interview that discusses numerous subjects.

I often do not enjoy behind-the-scenes looks at comedy, because I feel like such experiences often dissect the jokes to the point of losing their humor. But Lovell focuses less on laughter and more on thought, often ceding entire paragraphs for Colbert to expound on philosophy and beliefs. The writer also acknowledges the singularity of his subject:

Publishing bylaws practically require a comparison at this point between the styles of Jimmy and Conan and James and Jimmy and Seth and Carson and now Colbert. But it feels silly to think about him in those terms. He’s so unlike anyone else on television, or even anyone in TV memory, that the real question becomes what kind of public figure will emerge over time, and how much influence he’ll have beyond the nightly delivery of great jokes (again, so hard to do that!).

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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