Sunday, November 01, 2009
Movie Review: Chris Rock's "Good Hair"
I saw Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair the other night. It's been getting a lot of press, so I knew what to expect. I wasn't surprised by the lack of complexity--Chris Rock isn't a particularly subtle comedian. I wasn't surprised that, despite the lack of complexity, it was still a really entertaining movie. The thing that did surprise me, though, was the film's deep, deep misogyny.
I think Rock is sincere when he says he's worried about his black daughters' self-esteem and is trying to understand how they learn that "good hair" is something other than what grows out of their head. I believe him when he says this movie comes out of love of his daughters. That's why the conclusion the movie comes to--that black women are vain, high-maintenance, income-draining creatures who must be tolerated, at best, or avoided, at worst--is so surprising. Chris Rock doesn't seem to come to the conclusion (despite the film's concluding voice-over) that he has to surround his kids with more images of beautiful "natural" hair*, or that he should declare a weave-free zone on his set, or that black women's conception of beauty is way more complicated than can be gleaned from a weekend at the Bonner Bros. hair expo, or that there's nothing at all wrong with relaxing or weaving or braiding your hair. No, Rock seems to conclude that his daughters will eventually, inevitably, become crazed black women addicted to the "creamy crack," looking for men to subsidize their $1000 weave habit.
The humanity of black women, the humanity of Rock's daughters, is completely absent from this film. That's disappointing.
*And what is "natural"? I have two girls with very different hair textures, black cousins with straight hair, soft wavy hair, red hair, as well as coarse and kinky hair. I have an uncle who used to wash his fine, curly hair with laundry detergent to achieve the "natural" look.. "Natural" doesn't always mean Angela Davis.