Monday, April 19, 2010

Good Hair

Chris Rock says that as his two daughters get older it began to give him cause for pause to think about the costs expended and the lengths endured by African-American women to look beautiful and have, as he puts it, good hair. He began to realize the issue is greater than he’d ever imagined. Not only are black women (and in some cases children) willing to suffer through physical and monetary pain, an entire industry of black hair products has grown into an international money machine. So, Rock decided to get a team together and make a proper documentary about it.
His tone is genuine and honest (he even shows home footage of his family) and, while he’s lighthearted, a true concern for this culture is readily apparent. The movie is about hair, yes, but it’s largely about the extent women in general and African-American women in particular are willing to go to in order to be accepted as ‘normal.’ The women interviewed, which truly run the gamut, all talk about getting their hair straightened or wearing painful weaves because they want to look ‘natural’ and ‘easy to approach.’ One girl says that black hair left in it’s natural state is something people have to endure before they actually get to know the person, which is why she straightens, so this doesn’t happen at job interviews.
The entire thing is very sad, especially because these women truly believe this stuff. The idea that a poor black woman needs to spend thousands of dollars a year so her hair doesn’t make white people feel uncomfortable is pathetic. Rock focuses almost entirely on how the African-American culture sees their own hair, interviewing very few non-African-Americans. It’s a very telling look at our culture, the state of modern racism and opportunistic capitalism. Somehow Rock tells this depressing tale in a way that’s easy and enjoyable to watch. You’ll laugh, think and (hopefully) get pretty pissed off. It’s worth a watch for sure.

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