If you’ve somehow missed all the talk show appearances by Chris Rock over the last month or so, “Good Hair” is the latest project by Rock, a documentary look into the multi-billion dollar hair product market aimed most at black women.
As Rock points out in the movie, African American women comprise only 6.5% of the U.S. population, but buy 40% of the hair products sold in the U.S. (about $9 billion per year). “Good Hair” aims to tell us why, but falls slightly short.
I enjoyed the film, but points have to be taken off for several reasons. One, the video work looks like it was done with a camcorder or even a cell phone camera in some places, not what you’d expect for a big-time icon like Rock, who plays to sell-out shows around the world.
Two, for a “documentary,” the movie seemed to focus on the opinions of just a very few people. Most of the famous people who were interviewed were people whose careers peaked 10 or more years ago, and there was only a handful of them.
Three, many of the black women interviewed — even those who spoke against the practices of “relaxer” or weaves — were either wearing weaves or sporting relaxed hair during the interviews. He seemed to have trouble finding people with “natural” hair.
Also, for someone as bold as Chris Rock, I expected a stronger stance, more outrage… something. Perhaps he took his documentary role too seriously. Doesn’t he know that most modern “documentaries” aren’t neutral? Michael Moore’s “movies” would be a prime example. By now, we expect documentaries to be one-sided, to express an opinion, to tell us what to think.
This movie built up to it several times, but fell short of an actual stance.
Don’t get me wrong; it was a fun movie, and very informative.
The film points out that black culture in America is riddled with the idea that straight, silky hair is “good hair,” while natural, kinky hair is “bad hair.” Children as young as two and three years old are getting dangerous chemicals rubbed into their scalps to “relax” the hair. They’re told at this young age that it’s the only way to get “good” hair.
Perhaps the funniest moment for me was when Rock asked a scientist about this chemical, and was told how destructive it is. The guy seemed genuinely shocked to hear that people put it on their heads.
Rock also points out in the movie that most of the hair for weaves comes from India, where people regularly have their heads shaved as part of a religious ceremony called “tonsure.” These people give their hair (without compensation) to their temples. The temples then sell the hair to dealers who bring it to the U.S. to sell to black women, sometimes for $1,000 or more *per weave.”
Huge parts of the documentary also focus on the Bronner Brothers Hair Show in Atlanta, where hair products are marketed to salon owners across the country, helping to emphasize what a large business this is.
That sub-plot, though, actually took away from the film, since Rock focused so much on the four stylists involved in a competition at Bronner Brothers that had nothing to do with “good hair” or the rest of the movie.
Conclusion: Good Hair was funny and informative, but could have been much better.
Advice: Wait for the DVD.
IMDb: Good Hair
Wikipedia: Good Hair
(for some language including sex and drug references, and brief partial nudity)
Length: 95 min. (1:35)
Director: Jeff Stilson
My Rating: 6 of 10
Chris Rock, Maya Angelou, Sandra “Pepa” Denton, Cheryl “Salt” James, Eve, Melyssa Ford, Meagan Good, Ice-T, Al Sharpton, KRS-One, Nia Long, Raven-Symoné