Wednesday, 14 September 2011

-Music Videos on my Mind- When it Pays to be Rupert Wainwright


There are some big questions in life for which there remain no clear answers, like:

  • Why do lots of Oriental guys always make peace signs when posing for photographs?
  • Why do lots of black guys mispronounce the word 'ask'?
  • Why does only one highly educated British white guy like Rupert Wainwright end up on the FBI's radar for making a rap music video?


You see, Rupert Wainwright is a middle-class bloke born and raised in the leafy Cotswolds.

After graduating from Oxford University, Wainwright tried to earn some money by becoming an actor but couldn't cut it.

Stuck in a rut, Wainwright upped sticks and went to UCLA on a Fulbright scholarship to study film. To make ends meet he started directing music videos.

By this point it was the late-1980s and Wainwright struck gold by getting the gig for directing NWA's title track for their hugely controversial Straight Outta Compton video.

With Straight Outta Compton, the appointment of Wainwright as director was an inspired choice. He knew exactly which buttons to push in order to get Caucasian consumers from middle-America to buy into the forbidden appeal of NWA.

The maelstrom of political hullabaloo that followed ensured NWA's debut album sold in excess of 3 million units, making both the group and Wainwright overnight millionaires.

Wainwright's vision for the Straight Outta Compton gave West Coast rap a visual reference point. He took a seemingly dangerous scene and turned it into an accessible and saleable entity, resulting in 80% of Straight Outta Compton's sales coming from the lucrative suburbs and beyond the boundaries of black neighbourhoods.

Straight Outta Compton's music video was about as shit as everything else in Wainwright's career (he also directed MC Hammer's You Can't Touch This), but the idea that a posh kid from the serene English countryside could be identified as a national threat because of his involvement with a rap group, astounds me.

Straight Outta Compton may epitomise the worst of American gang culture, but perhaps it demonstrates the best in British marketing.

4 comments:

  1. Oh dear. I feel like I can't offer a very fair opinion on this song/video because I despise rap.

    They seem very mad though. Probably because they are poor.

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  2. I'm with Jennifer on despising rap :)

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  3. all three of those are big life ?'s indeed

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