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Hip-hop filmmaker weighs in on manhood, sexual violence

September 11, 2007 By John Lucas

Byron Hurt, a filmmaker who loves hip-hop and is the co-founder and former associate director of the United States Marine Corps gender violence prevention program, will address students and community members about sexual violence on Monday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Theater.

The event is part of the two-day conference on sexual violence on college campuses, sponsored in part by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Subcommittee on Sexual Assault and Dating Violence, the UW System and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The event is free, open to the public, and does not require tickets for entrance. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

"Sexual assault can be such an isolating experience and topic," says Carmen Hotvedt, University Health Services violence prevention specialist. "When we were planning for this conference, we wanted to find a keynote speaker who could discuss the intersection of social structures of power and violence to engage more people in the effort to create safer campuses for all."

Hurt will show parts of his film, "Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes," and will challenge audiences to interrogate the damaging effects of racism and sexism in American culture.

Selected for the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, "Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes," examines representations of manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture. Conceived as a "loving critique" of certain disturbing developments in mainstream rap music culture, the film features interviews with famous rappers such as Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes, along with cultural commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kevin Powell, and Sarah Jones. The film also features on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers, as well as interviews with young women at Spelman College and hip-hop events.

"I sometimes feel bad for criticizing hip-hop, but I guess what I am trying to do is get us men to take a hard look at ourselves," says Hurt.

Kelly Anderson, director of the Dane County Rape Crisis Center, will offer opening comments along with a short performance by First Wave spoken-word artists from the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives.

For more information on gender violence prevention at the UW–Madison campus, call (608) 265-5966. Educational and discussion guides about the documentary and Burt’s work are available for this event.