Hazing will be a feature-length documentary film that explores why the controversial practice of hazing continues to be widely seen as a meaningful and legitimate rite of passage – despite mounting lawsuits, suspensions, increased media coverage, serious injuries, arrests, and tragic deaths. Hazing supporters include Firelight Media, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and ITVS.
Hazing will be a feature-length documentary film that explores why the controversial practice of hazing continues to be widely seen as a meaningful and legitimate rite of passage – despite mounting lawsuits, suspensions, increased media coverage, serious injuries, arrests, and tragic deaths. Each year, thousands of young male and female aspirants will seek entry into various membership organizations - fraternities, sororities, marching bands, athletic teams, military institutions, academic clubs and departments, and other secret society groups. Most will become members of the organization of their choice without much controversy. But many will risk their physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing, all because the exclusive group they dream of joining practices the long-held tradition of hazing. Hazing experts say pledges acquiesce to hazing because they believe exclusive group membership will give them the sense of belonging, status, identity, peer respect, and a vast social network that they desire. Hazing will be a nuanced film with multiple points of view. The stories featured in this film will be from mixed raced and mixed gendered perspectives to demonstrate the cross-cultural impact of hazing. The following questions will launch and steer my investigation: Why does hazing continue to happen? What are some important racial, cultural, and gender distinctions to understand when it comes to hazing? Who hazes? Who gets hazed? Who supports it? Who opposes it? And, will hazing ever end? Through 1st-person narration, I will be the film’s guide: a former football player and a card- carrying member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, who has experienced hazing firsthand. Engaging archival video footage of pledges, testimonies and stills shots of victims of hazing, and an original soundtrack, and powerful storytelling, will set up the circumstances, questions, and/or series of events that have led me to take viewers with me on my journey to explore this nation’s culture of hazing. Over the course of the feature-length film, there will be emotional highs and lows from the film’s open until the credit roll. As I take the viewer from person to person and segment to segment, strong editing and an airtight story structure will masterfully blend thoughtfulness, humor, and tension with the sobering realities of unshakeable emotional scars, untold trauma, and the tragic loss of life. In the end, the audience will decide for themselves whether they are for or against hazing.