As Maya Angelou narrates this powerful documentary, she reveals the story of a brave group of people who fought Hitler with the only weapons they had: charcoal, pencil stubs, shreds of paper and memories etched in their minds.
Aaron Simon Gross
Chris Rock brings his critically acclaimed brand of social commentary-themed humor to this 1999 standup comedy presentation from HBO. Also released as an album, Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker... See full summary »
Chris Rock, a man with two daughters, asks about good hair, as defined by Black Americans, mostly Black women. He visits Bronner Brothers' annual hair convention in Atlanta. He tells us about sodium hydroxide, a toxin used to relax hair. He looks at weaves, and he travels to India where tonsure ceremonies produce much of the hair sold in America. A weave is expensive: he asks who makes the money. We visit salons and barbershops, central to the Black community. Rock asks men if they can touch their mates' hair - no, it's decoration. Various talking heads (many of them women with good hair) comment. It's about self image. Maya Angelou and Tracie Thoms provide perspective. Written by
...this was a missed opportunity. All the facts (most of which I was unaware of) are there, but the filmmakers step back from exploring many of questions raised: the importance of racial identity, economic oppression by other minorities/majorities, health risk of fashion, etc.
It would seem like Chris Rock would be the perfect individual to guide us through this movie, but he seems harnessed. And whether it's because the people in the frame with him are fragile and therefore undeserving of outrage or he's following someone else's script, it's surprising that the only rage expressed comes in the final few moments (by no one less than the "self-proclaimed inventor" of Jheri Curl), and it's such an over the top rant, that we laugh it off.
While there are a number of very appealing people throughout, we're told that people are damaging their health as well as their children's health, outlandish prices are paid by people who appear or say they can't afford it, foreign nationals are being exploited and shorn against their will to satisfy "looking like something you're not." I kept waiting for the anger to burst through, but there was only good natured joshing and giggles. (And a long section on touching the hair of black women that crosses over into sexism.)
I was more shocked by the lack of stance by the filmmakers than the practices of hair care in the African American community. But if you're not clued into the huge industry around these practices, give this movie a look, and then go tell someone who hasn't processed or "woven" their hair how beautiful they look. (Becauase they DO look beautiful without all this nonsense.)
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