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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 breezy documentary explored the black female hair industry, which turns out to be crazily huge, because so many black women want hair very different from what grows out of their head. Of course, white women are often dissatisfied with their hair too, but not, it seems, to this extent.
It's an interesting look at the world of black womens' hair. I never really thought much about it, but apparently when you see a black girl with straight hair you are looking at an elaborate, expensive process and possibly some Indian girl's hair sewn on.
It's also interesting to see a "hair show" where hair stylists have these crazy elaborate, very entertaining demos of their skills. That looks like fun.
Rock is amusing and entertaining as he tells us how it is forbidden to touch a black girl's hair and goes to the barbershop to learn how men feel about it all.
And that's all good as far as it goes. But I felt the documentary fell short of really exploring the topic. It beings with Rock talking about how his young daughter asks why she doesn't have "good hair." This means, basically, non-black hair. While the documentary explores the lengths women go to in order to get this non-black hair, there is virtually no discussion of those black women who stick with the hair they've got. There's only one girl with an afro in the movie, and she's there so her friends can talk about how awful they think her hair is.
I like natural black-girl hair. I think it can look really cool. But the movie never talks about that. The movie doesn't discuss the 60s, when young black men and women were making a political decision to not process their hair. The movie shows the world of black hair care as being a bit insane, but it doesn't really show an alternative.
I suspect Rock was flummoxed by his daughter's question in part because he agrees with her. He can say he wants her to be happy the way she is, but his wife has her hair heavily processed, and that is probably what he likes. So he can't really just tell his daughter, your hair is awesome.
I can tell her that, though. Maybe it's because I'm white and grew up among white people with white hair and find afros interesting because they seem unusual to me, but for whatever reason, I really like that afro look (sometimes; hair always varies from person to person).
(Apparently there is a similar movie called "My Nappy Roots" that presumably would get into more of this. The director sued this movie saying Rock had ripped off her ideas. There are more examples of black women with natural hair in the minute-and-a-half trailer for that movie than in all of "Good Hair.")
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