Posts Tagged ‘Chris Rock

19
Oct
09

Good Hair?

good hair

(photo: Roadside Attractions)

For the most part I found the new Chris Rock doc Good Hair very enjoyable and informative, though naturally, it oversimplified the basic argument that the relaxation or transformation via weaves of naturally “nappy” hair on the part of African-American women is a bad, prohibitively expensive, culturally backward practice. My main problem is that there were virtually no women with natural hair included in the film to balance out Rock’s portrait of a culture torturing themselves with chemical burns from relaxers or rendering entire communities bankrupt with the cost of weaves.

On the plus side, we hear personal stories from a variety of personalities, including Al Sharpton (who’s pretty funny), Maya Angelou (wonderfully grounded), various actresses and regular women, mainly in L.A., New York and Atlanta. And also from men who have opinions on black women’s hair, from financing it to touching it (or — most likely — not touching it). Rock conducts interviews with all of the above, visits India (the source of most weaves), and brings us backstage at the incredibly entertaining Bronner Bros. Hair Show in Atlanta, an annual event that should be televised on ESPN if it isn’t already. Rock comes across as especially thoughtful and restrained in the film, so his several funny one-liners are all the more hilarious.

Alynda Wheat’s very interesting commentary on EW.com offers a solid rebuttal to Rock’s film, and its resulting reader comments are equally worthwhile.

As someone who remembers the ’70s, when hip African-American girls and women wore short ‘fros or just tied their tresses back into big, fluffy ponytails (the bigger the better!), I mourn the fact that so many black women straighten their hair these days. It was considered so unprogressive back then! But of course, women in general have been progressively “improving” themselves since the ’70s — when “natural” was in — with cosmetic procedures, fake boobs and other enhancements, so it’s not really fair to single out African-American women for changing their hair to reflect current standards of beauty. Most of us have given in to some extent. Then again, since “nappy” hair is such a basic characteristic of blackness, it does sometimes seem particularly self-negating. Obviously this can be, and has been, debated back and forth for days…

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