What is it about curly, nappy hair that people find so undesirable? As a card-carrying member of the Happy to Be Nappy club, this subject has always interested me. It’s always interested Chris Rock as well. When asked by his young daughter, “Daddy, why don’t I have good hair?” Rock decided it was time to delve into the world of hair-straightening chemicals, hair-styling competitions, and weaves. Interviewing everyone from local barbers to the Reverend Al Sharpton, the comedian strives to understand the reasons behind the mass attempt to look…well, white in “Good Hair.”
In a world where almost all black Hollywood actresses have straight, flowing hair, it’s difficult to realize that none of them were born like that. During production, Rock meets girls as young as three getting their hair permed in salons across the country–which seems pretty crazy after a scientist shows the effects of the chemicals used in perms on aluminum cans. Just so you know…they burn through metal. Have fun rubbing that on your head. Thousands of dollars are spent on weaves, a process involving sewing human hair (usually from Indian women who donated it to their local temple) onto a woman’s head, giving their hair a natural, seamless appearance. It’s hair magic, people, and even if it’s worth the money, is it worth the price of conforming to an unnatural image?
Even for someone like me who has thought a lot about the messy pile of tangles atop his head, Stilson (the film’s director), Rock, and crew worked hard to teach me something new. What’s really great about “Good Hair” is how Rock doesn’t allow his humor to drown out the important discussions going on. It’s a thorough film that examines the concept of hair from a lot angles. Self-Esteem. Pride. Vanity. Fame. Culture. Race. Ethnicity. Gender. Age. Politics. Economics. Sexuality. Religion. Poverty. Sacrifice. Ambition. Style. Family. Relationships. Competition. Business. Entrepreneurship. The film shows how hair plays a part in each of these. It also makes you laugh your a*s off.