Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Film Exposes Fraternity Hazing Practices

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Aspiring gang members are exposed to extreme violence, including beat downs, verbal abuse, and sometimes sexual abuse. Gang members hit, stomp, and kick the wannabes and frequently use weapons to exact pain on their soon-to-be "brothers." Oftentimes the new members suffer broken bones, cuts, and contusions. Sometimes they die from the beatings. This blood-and-guts initiation process is also what many young men who pledge fraternities at some college campuses must endure. The humiliation is the same and so is the danger.
Hoping to inspire discussion and change around this tragic phenomenon, Nashville director, Jeff Obafemi Carr, created the film, He Ain’t Heavy, which tells the story of five young men who pledge a prestigious African-American fraternity in a raw, intense, and oftentimes disturbing way. Carr, a Nashville director, put five actors in realistic situations where they had to improvise their way through hazing by frat brothers (another group of actors), who interviewed, intimidated, and hazed the pledgees through a violent, whirlwind pledging process. “I watched these young men commit themselves to a process that many before them have been through,” Carr said. “Some call it Pledging. Others call it Hazing. I call it real.” And real it is. Along with the verbal abuse, hitting, pushing, and intimidation shown in the film is a repulsive scene toward the end of He Ain't Heavy that calls for the pledgees to pass raw eggs from mouth to mouth, repeatedly. Some viewers have left during this part of the film, and/or vomited, Carr said. The film ends with one of the pledgees, Hannibal, dropping to the ground on a football field after a physically grueling session demanded by the “big brothers.” A bystander calls 911, but not soon enough -- Hannibal dies before help arrives.
Hannibal’s ending recalls the real life hazing deaths that occur in the U.S. every year – most notably the death of Robert Champion Jr., the 26-year-old Florida A&M drum major, who was found dead on a bus after he was allegedly severely beaten by his band mates, Kappa Kappa Psi fraternity members. The University of Connecticut reports that since 1970, there has been at least one hazing-related death on a college campus each year. As of February 12, 2010, 96 hazing-related deaths have occurred in fraternities and sororities – 90 males and 6 females, according to HazingPrevention.Org. Carr, a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, who himself experienced intense hazing at Tennessee State University, said he made the film because he wanted to inspire honest discussions about hazing among college fraternities. Last week in Charlotte, a group of about 400 members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity saw the film during their national Leadership Summit. During the Q & A segment after the film, Phi Beta Sigma’s international president, Jimmy Hammock, denounced all forms of fraternity hazing and encouraged the members to help eradicate the practice from its initiation process. “There's a huge human cost in hazing," Hammock was quoted as saying in a WSOCtv.com article. “Someone has to step up and say enough is enough.” Watch the He Ain’t Heavy trailer:
How to See the Film: Carr plans to show He Ain’t Heavy, winner of the Nashville Film Festival’s Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Feature Film, at other college campuses this year and plans a theatrical release of the film next year. This Saturday, August 18 at 6 p.m., the film will be shown at the Peachtree Village International Film Festival in Atlanta at the W-Hotel. Check out the He Ain't Heavy Website

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

My God...this is intense. I'd like to see this..........

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

It is a very unique film. Hopefully, it'll get to your area soon.