We See Chick Flicks: Chris Rock’s “Good Hair”

Starring Chris Rock, Nia Long, Al Sharpton, Raven-Symoné, and Andre Harrell
Directed by, Jeff Stilson
Written by Lance Crouther, Chris Rock, Chuck Sklar, and Jeff Stilson

Have you ever sat in a gym locker room and wondered why black women don’t wash their hair after an invigorating workout? Or wondered how your black coworker went from straight, long hair to a curly bob overnight? Well, Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” will answer these questions and more as he tries to figure out what exactly constitutes “good hair.” The documentary begins at the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, where hairstylists, mostly from the South, compete in a styling contest so extreme that cutting hair while dangling upside down isn’t enough to win first prize, but bringing an entire marching band to the stage is. Then, we hear about Dudley’s Haircare and Cosmetics, which is one of a few black-owned-and-operated hair companies in the country, despite black haircare being a multi-billion-dollar business. The running theme throughout the film is that black hair — whether you weave it, relax it, or color it — isn’t cheap. Some women pay between $1,000 and $3,500 for a full-head weave. And healthy hair that is 10 inches or longer fetches a high price in India, where there’s a thriving black market for hair because people shave their heads for religious purposes. Yet, the cost to a woman’s self-esteem, of not feeling good enough because of her natural hair texture, might be the biggest cost of all. The film even explores the effect hair can have on a relationship, because every black man knows you don’t touch a black woman’s hair.

While “Good Hair” delves into a rather touchy subject — the quest for beauty by any means — Rock keeps the subject lighthearted as he quizzes patrons and owners of hair salons and barbershops using his trademark comic style. He has a rapport with them, not only because he’s been entertaining them in their living rooms for years, but also because he’s one of them. Rock has experienced firsthand the trials and tribulations black women go through with their hair. You get the feeling he’s trying to save his daughters from these experiences — being burned alive by a relaxer, in particular.

“Good Hair” mostly sums up the importance of hair in the black community even though it doesn’t devote much time to the natural hair movement. Hair isn’t simply hair in the black community. It’s a part of our culture and economy. It has been feeding and clothing children for decades, and bringing the community together sometimes for tears, but mostly for laughs. If you’re black, then you’ll have a thigh-slapping good time watching “Good Hair” because these are your own experiences. If you’re not black, bring a black friend who can explain all the inside jokes so you can laugh along with the rest of the audience.