Video digs beneath stereotype of black men

    A young man in North Philadelphia shot a documentary video about himself, and is now featured in a program of films challenging the popular image of African-American males on television. But you won’t see this film series on TV.

    A young man in North Philadelphia shot a documentary video about himself, and is now featured in a program of films challenging the popular image of African-American males on television. But you won’t see this film series on TV.

    Listen:
    [audio: arts20090414voices.mp3]

    The film – Beirut Boys – is a slice-of-life video from the North Philly projects, showing a young man trying to get into Community College, rapping with his friends, and doting on his girlfriend.

    It’s part of an online series of videos called the Masculinity Project that presents portraits of African-American men. Project director Christian Ugbode says the films show the range between the presidential decorum of Barack Obama and the thug bravado of rapper 50 Cent.

    Ugbode: There’s a lot of faces of regular men on the street that flashes during the whole thing – these are the real black men – they exist somewhere in between that excessively hyper-masculine image and the image of someone like Barack Obama.

    Ugbode says the Masculinity Project will find its intended audience through an online viral distribution model, with fans spreading the films through web links, email attachments and blogs.

    Selections from the Masculinity Project will be screened tonight at the International House in University City.

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