If I Have to Recommend a Documentary to You…

It has to be Byron Hurt’s 2007 documentary “HipHop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”. The front of his website and other sites simply identifies the film as a “riveting documentary that examines representations of gender roles in hip-hop and rap music.” Gender and Hip Hop, of course, is a topic that needs to be urgently addressed and tackled. However, the film goes beyond that. Considering that it is just under 56 minutes long, it comprehensively looks at multiple factors that is affecting the Hip Hop culture and community: homophobia, hypermasculinity, the glorification of violence in all facets of society, the big corporations controlling Hip Hop and that being a factor as to how Hip Hop appears now in mainstream media, and the breakdown of the actual consumers of mainstream rap. As noted in the documentary, 70% of the consumers of mainstream rap are young white males. Therefore, he raises questions on how the black community and other people of color are viewed and classified by white consumers, based on what is presented to them in mainstream media.

Another interesting topic that Hurt raises, that I have seen, as well as others, is the homoeroticism that is presented in mainstream Hip-Hop. However, I think hints of homoeroticism can be easily seen in anything deemed as hypermasculine and ultraviolent (and ironically homophobic), but that alone is a whole other discussion that should be given its own airtime.

Hurt continually screens his film in universities and centers throughout the country. If you are in the New York City area, he will be at New York University on Friday, March 28th, 12pm. Please go and watch!

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~ by Luci-Kali on February 27, 2008.

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