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.


Aron Ranen said...

Please take a moment to check out my documentary film BLACK HAIR

It is free at youtube. 6 parts including an update from London, England.

It explores the Korean Take-over of the Black Beauty Supply and Hair biz..

The current situation makes it hard to believe that Madame C.J. Walker once ran the whole thing.

I am not a hater, I am a motivator.

Plus I am a White guy who stumbled upon this, and felt it was so wrong I had to make a film about it.

self-funded film, made from the heart.

Can it be taken back?


Alison said...

Damn. That sounds more than disappointing--that sounds infuriating and appalling! What is it with men who can get certain forms of oppression--like racism--but can't get sexism?

And I think Angela Davis would agree with you about the complexity of the concept of "natural" hair. And about the need to see black women as fully human.

Claudia said...

Oh God, this is appalling. I just shared your review with my sister who also saw the documentary and felt the exact same way. Now, I'm not sure I want to give Chris Rock my money.

lively jason said...

one cannot discoun the fact that most concepts are complex; even simple ones like clean, beauty, and fairness.

iSo14below said...

I saw the film last week and I wholly disagree with your review. The fact that Chris Rock did not give a conclusion was perfect. I think this film was not made to preach to anyone or convert creamy crack users. He just presented the facts and allowed the audience to make their own decisions.

Lastly, Rock did not conclude the Black women were "high maintenance..", he was showing the facts and to some extent, showing how silly people can be about their hair.

Besides the lack of natural hair celebs, I think Good Hair was a stellar film.

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