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Friday, February 26, 2010

Around The Web:
Barack & Curtis: Manhood, Power & Respect

I love a good stumble.  When done right, a stumble can lead you down a rabbit hole of great information.  Today, I stumbled across this great short cinematic offering by filmmaker Byron Hurt titled Barack and Curtis.  The 10 minute documentary was created as part of the National Black Programming Consortium's Black Masculinity Project, an initiative aimed at balancing mainstream media's negative distortion of the Black male image.

In his short documentary, Hurt explores the duality of Black male masculinity by comparing and contrasting two strong personalities within popular Black culture, President Barack Obama and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.  Hurt postures that male masculinity is often showcased by media as one of two extremes, either the fear inspiring hyper masculine extreme of 50 Cent or the hyper controlled non-confrontational extreme of President Obama.   From the filmmaker:

The idea for Barack & Curtis came to me the night before NBPC's deadline. I conceived the short doc just as Barack Obama was emerging as a presidential front-runner. I thought, "Why not create a short doc that discussed Barack Obama's masculinity in a way I had not yet seen." I wanted to make something that was topical, clever, fresh, unique, and off the beaten path. A political junkie, I was intrigued by Obama's rise to political rock stardom. The more I watched Obama stumping on the campaign trail, the more I found his cool presentation of manhood interesting and refreshing. On the surface, Obama's manhood appeared to be the polar opposite of the stereotypical images of black masculinity we've come to expect from hip-hop and popular culture.
When I tell people about Barack & Curtis, most people's first reaction is laughter. Or, they'll say, "I know who Barack is, but who's Curtis?" After I explain who "Curtis" is and what the piece is about, people generally say, "Wow, now that sounds interesting. I can't wait to see it!"
"Curtis" is rapper/mogul Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Why would I compare/contrast the masculinity of Barack Obama, an "upstanding" statesman-like presidential candidate, with 50 Cent, a "lowly" gangsta rapper, right? Well, because Barack Obama is THE MAN right now, who is shattering so many myths about black masculinity, and because 50 Cent, who was just named Forbes Magazine's top-earning rapper, currently embodies gangsta hip-hop masculinity like no other. Both are successful Black men. Both are rock stars. Both are admired and feared. I thought that juxtaposing the two in a short doc would make for historic level conversations. (more)
 If you're interested (which you should be...) please check out Barack & Curtis below.


Stumble Path Credit:
New Black Man --> Red Clay Scholar --> Google Search Barack & Curtis.
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