Movie Review: Good Hair

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 12:00 am.

goodhairSummary: Comedian Chris Rock tackles the epic history of hair in the Black community.

Review: The term “good hair” has lived with the African-American community for ions, cementing itself into the Black American lexicon. Most of us can remember, or some still say, lines like, “She got good hair!” While the term has often been brushed off as one of the things we just “do” as Black folks, Chris Rock has analyzed this mindset, the history and the choices behind Black folks and their hair.

Good Hair could have easily gone the way of judgmental and didactic — I’ve known many women who wear their hair “natural” and deem Black women who use perms and weaves as sell-outs and adhering to standards of Whiteness. On the other hand, I’ve known weaved out females who stress the natural looked is played and, “I’m not gonna get a job looking like Angela Davis!” Therefore, Rock had a risky topic on his plate — plus, he is a man. However, quite brilliantly, Rock skillfully peeled back the archaic layers, opening up a dialogue that could’ve been volatile.  His talent made the doc hilarious and thought-provoking, rising above race and gender.

One of the first steps to becoming a good documentarian is to realize you are not the star of the show. So, when a celebrity as A-list as Rock makes a documentary, you have to wonder if his star power will overshadow the message. Thankfully, it doesn’t. Rock uses himself as the vessel by interviewing women at salons, chatting with men at barber shops, talking with a chemist about the chemicals in hair products and even traveling to India to discover the origins of weaves.

Don’t think Good Hair is a rambling of facts and laughs. Skillfully moving the story forward, Rock highlights the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show in Atlanta, Georgia. This legendary hair show and the quirky yet extremely competitive personalities he features, give the movie a bloodline, linking together the profit of hair and style. One of the most astounding revelations: African Americans spend $9 billion a year on all things hair.

Rock has others voicing their thoughts on the good hair philosophy like Nia Long, Maya Angelou (she got her first perm at 70!), Salt-N-Pepa , Andre Harrell and two perm icons: Ice-T and Al Sharpton. Rock balances a story that could easily be too specific or agenda-pushing — with his style of humor and wit, even if you can’t relate to Good Hair, you will be informed, laugh and come away with sensitivity to the African-American experience.

Good Hair opens in select cities Friday, October 9th and nationwide Friday, October 23rd.

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