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Good Hair

Alright, Good Hair is great. Chris Rock‘s documentary into the different things black women do with their hair is a fun and fascinating look at a subculture that many would never know about otherwise. The movie is definitely as quirky and funny as it is enlightening for white people who, outside of some naturally tight and curly red heads, would probably have no idea what black women are putting themselves through on a daily basis.

Although the movie comes highly recommended from this reviewer, we’re about to hit a very sticky and highly controversial issue. Throughout, the movie has an undercurrent of left handed blame to white and Asian people who have either reformatted what black people think is beautiful, i.e. straight, Caucasian hair or are taking advantage of the community by selling them this apparent white ideal. Now, while I understand that there is a fair amount of truth to the “whys” of these choices women are making, nobody asked curly haired white women if they go through the same thing. Chris Rock is quick to be disgusted with what most black women’s ideal for their hair is and has no problem characterizing it as a racial self loathing, yet rarely does he talk to any of the female celebrities who do keep their hair natural. Where are the interviews with the strong female African American role models who rock all-natural hair like Whoopie Goldberg, Solange Knowles, Eryka Badu, India Arie and Lauryn Hill? (I completely agree with anyone who wants to pick a fight with me over Solange Knowles being considered a strong role model, but her recent decision to cut off all her hair shows character.)

Being a white man and far from any kind of familiarity with what goes on in a black hair salon, let alone in Atlanta (where much of the movie is based) it’s difficult to write any of this and I’m endeavoring to not come across in this writing as any kind of racist. Living in Vancouver there isn’t as much of a large population of African Americans (or African Canadians?) as there is a massive population of Asians. Now, if I was to make a documentary about anime’s influence on North America (which is huge) would it be okay to slip in comments about how disgusting it is that the white man loves Asian culture so much? How it’s a form of self loathing? What about hip hop music? Or sports icons? Fashion? I’ve had dreadlocks, I shop in hip hop clothing outlets, listen to black music, watch kung fu movies, eat Chinese food and live in a world where there isn’t much for me to be proud of as a white man. I’m not complaining. I’m just trying to make a point. Many of my friends question my sense of style or my music choices and when we look at each other, we have to consider whether or not we’re being racist. I don’t need to be slapped in the face while I’m trying to enjoy a good movie about hair care.

Wait a minute Chris Rock! Are you telling me black women are the only ones made to feel insignificant by the media? Come on, man! I don’t like MY hair! I’ve dyed it many different colors, put product in it that makes it hard to sleep on because it won’t be coming out for days, feel ugly if I’m fat, people think I’m malnourished if I’m thin and we’re all in the same boat trying to find an ounce of self esteem in a sea of fashion apathy.

I guess double standards are just getting old. I don’t have any desire to make a documentary about how white people don’t have much to feel proud about today, but if anyone did, they would have to walk a pretty fine line if they didn’t want to be labeled as racists.

This more rant than it is review, and honestly, it isn’t so overbearing in the movie that it’s abhorrent. It’s just mentioned enough times to irritate some people I guess. So I have no problems with Chris Rock and very few with his movie, but enjoyed venting. Check out the movie for itself. It’s enlightening, funny and a good way to spend an hour and a half.

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