Originally posted at BVHairTalk.com.
Can I be real with y’all? I’m kinda sick of Chris Rock’s Good Hair. Raise your hand if you’re with me.
The endless media tour. The premature outrage. The trailer, which showed all of the docucomedy’s best clips. To paraphrase Chris Rock himself, I’m tired, tired, tired of Good Hair.
So I’m gonna conclude writing about it once and for all with this review.
I hate going into a movie when I already know too much about it. And I already knew WAY too much about Good Hair. And to be honest, I didn’t quite understand the controversy and call for boycotting the film. As I said in the Black Voices podcast: it’s important to remember who’s making this movie. It’s Chris Rock, the man who brought us Pootie Tang! The comedian who continually courts controversy. What did we REALLY expect from Chris Rock besides comedy? Social commentary? A historical perspective? Sorry — wrong filmmaker. Wrong film. For more informed views on black hair, see some of the documentaries I mentioned in my previous post, Before Chris Rock’s Good Hair.
As a comedy, Good Hair delivers. There were scenes and one-liners that were laugh out loud funny. Some scenes brought back painful memories of my own burning scalp. And there were scenes that caused my throat to tighten up and tears to well in my eyes. One particular scene, where a three-year-old girl explains that she has her hair relaxed “because we’re supposed to,” particularly ached to watch.
If there’s one thing Rock does well, it’s underscore the point that kiddie perm is an unnecessary evil. There are a few points where you can see true concern and consideration on Rock’s face as he interviews the subjects in this docucomedy, and whenever he touches on this particular topic — that little children in our community are taught that their own hair texture isn’t beautiful the way it is, and are conditioned to crave chemical relaxers from such a tender age — you can see the ache in his eyes. It’s in moments like that where you can see his genuine motivation in making this film.
I believe the power of scenes like that are undercut by the barbershop scene, where a group of black men cackle wildly while confessing that they feel a level of intimacy with white women because they can run their fingers through their hair.
The audience at my screening of Good Hair wasn’t the target demographic. The theater was in a “white” neighborhood, and there were few people present — I’d estimate 10, tops, and I seemed to be the only woman of color there. So when laughter rang out in the crowd, it was easy to tell who was laughing, and it was interesting to see what the audience laughed at. It sometimes underscored what frustrated women were telling Rock when he appeared on Oprah to promote this film for the second time. When the Caucasian couple sitting behind me burst out laughing at the scene in the relaxer factory, I wondered if this is what the upset black woman in Oprah’s audience meant when she admonished Chris Rock for “telling our secrets.”
If I had to do it over again, I’d probably have waited to see Good Hair when it makes its inevitable debut on HBO. It was amusing and interesting, but I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. I have to agree with The Hotness Grrrl on this point — if you must be mad at Good Hair, be mad that Chris Rock’s wife, Malaak, didn’t appear in the film. I was perplexed by that, especially since so many celebrities gave on-camera interviews about their weaves, and the whole point of the film was that Rock’s own daughters had negative feelings about their natural hair texture. That would have made Rock’s film a little more interesting, but would have probably made his home life a lot more uncomfortable.
In general, Good Hair is worth seeing. The underlying message of the film, “the stuff on top of your head is not as important as what’s inside your head,” resonates. Will this film make anyone stop and ask themselves – why do we use sodium hydroxide to alter the texture of our hair? Will we ever truly believe, as Kari Cobham’s Daytona Beach news article states, that “good hair is healthy hair, regardless of texture”? That remains to be seen.
Did you see Good Hair? What do you think? Was it worth the price of the movie ticket, or not?