Good Hair

2010-06-07 13:09
 
Good Hair

What it's about:

Intrigued by his little daughter's question: "Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?" Chris Rock sets out to find out what that actually means and how the pursuit of 'good hair' has given rise to a multi-billion dollar industry and an African-American hair culture that's dependant on toxic chemicals and the women of India.

What we thought:

I hate my hair. Always have. It's naturally curly and extremely thick and never does what I want it to. Seems I've been missing out on the perfect solution to my problem: creamy crack. Remember that term. It's the incredibly apt and amusing name given by African-American women to hair relaxer, the lotion-like substance to which many women with kinky or 'nappy' hair have become addicted to. While they're not snorting it or injecting it into their veins, they are slathering the highly toxic substance onto their hair and scalp in order to achieve a straight, smooth look that is manageable and 'sophisticated'. But it's not a permanent solution and so women find themselves getting regular fixes of creamy crack as their roots begin to show. 

And that's probably the least time- and cash-consuming way of attaining 'good hair'. There are also wigs and human hair weaves, which cost an enormous amount of money to not only attach, but to maintain. In this incredibly entertaining documentary about a serious subject, Chris Rock uncovers the wonderfully theatric, sometimes sad Afro-American hair culture in which girls as young as two are having their hair relaxed. "Why do you relax your hair?" Rock asks a cute three-year-old. "Because we're supposed to," comes the reply.

Why have African-American women become so socially insecure about their appearance? And why are so few black hair companies actually owned by blacks? While Good Hair gives plenty pause for thought about the socio-political burdens of hair and the hair business in America, it never fails to make you laugh while telling its very enlightening story.

Rock travels across America and talks to people as diverse as actress Nia Long, Maya Angelou, rapper Ice-T, the Rev. Al Sharpton and black high school girls to get a first-hand sense of what good hair is, and the power it yields over a society whose idea of what is natural has become woefully distorted. Things take an even more surreal turn when Rock travels to India and discovers how a religious ceremony, where women shave their heads en masse, becomes a lucrative opportunity for unscrupulous entrepreneurs. Turns out that many of those $1000-plus hair weaves being sold in the US are made from Indian women's hair, and what they sacrifice for free is being shipped to the weave capital of the world, Los Angeles, and sold to US salons at ridiculous mark ups.

When Rock holds court at a barbershop, he learns that this hair obsession has even created a population of sexually frustrated black men. This is because black women have forbidden their men from even touching their expensive, meticulously maintained hairdos, limiting their sexual play. It's enough to make one man prefer the company of white women.

As far as documentaries go, it's unlikely you've had as much fun watching one as you will with Good Hair. Rock's easy charm teases some telling responses from his frank questions to his star-studded interviewees and keeps the tone of the movie light and surprising. Many might call him a brave man to even venture into this before-now secretive world.
 

How do you define "good hair"? Comedian Chris Rock tries to get to the root of why hair relaxer and Indian weaves have African-American women in their grip - hilariously.

BJ 2010/06/09 2:01 PM
Ok Shaheema, when will the documentary be flighted in Mzansi and the channel?
Shaheema 2010/06/10 10:52 AM
@BJ: The movie is currently at Nu Metro cinemas. Check out the showtimes search tool on the right of the page.
LOL 2010/06/14 10:48 AM
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Very good doccie. Reminded me of my mom, aunts and sister. The things coloured woman do to look good. It's insane.
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