As a blogger, I was invited to a complimentary screening of Chris Rock’s film, “Good Hair“. I went with much anticipation and an open mind as I really didn’t know what to expect. This particular screening was held in an office building in mid-town Manhattan, a few short blocks from Times Square. The screening room was lovely and held approximately 60 seats.
As the film began I was initially impressed as it opened with a little historical perspective, but that was over in short order, lasting about 30 seconds, so it seemed. As the film proceeded I noticed I began to have a very sinking feeling in my stomach (my barometer) and my heart. It wasn’t too far into the film that I began to realized that I was actually feeling very sad as I sat through this film. Don’t get me wrong, Chris Rock is a comedian and so the laughs were there and I can’t say I didn’t laugh at all. But too many of the laughs were at the expense of dignity and pride.
Very much like that laugh seen on Oprah when Chris was there to promote his film yesterday. A photo of Oprah as a very young girl shows up on the screen and clearly Chris was offended by her image as he laughingly said to her, something along the lines of, that picture is from your slave days! And he and couldn’t get off of it, kept on going on about it. Oprah and the audience also laughed through this. I sat there offended and wondering what the hell was so funny??? There was nothing funny about it. Because Oprah had a wide nose and kinky hair she is said to look like a slave? Come on Chris!
But I digress, back to Good Hair. This film has many disturbing moments (like the one on Oprah) for me. Most telling was how ridiculous black women were made to look as they seemingly unconsciously go through life with the willingness to sacrifice health, dignity and financial common sense all in the quest to have straight, long hair. This film and the points it made could have been done without the degradation, but that option was not chosen. One has to wonder why not???
To his credit Chris did feature one sister with natural hair in his film, a Khamit Kinks client, Traci Thoms. And one sister which like in our up coming film, has chosen to wear a bald head than to cover over her alopecia.
There was a white guy sitting in front of me laughing his buns off throughout the film. He really got it, knows all black women’s hair secrets now. He was also taking notes through out. So at the end of the film as I was reaching for one of my business cards (I was going to inform him about my upcoming film) I asked him if he was a writer. He said he was and that he wrote for the New York Post. I immediately stopped looking for my card as he gleefully went on to tell me he had an appointment to interview Chris the next day… He asked me what did I think of the film. I told him, “Despite all the excuses, the use of chemicals to straighten our hair is on a unconscious level still an attempt [for many] to aspire to have the same type of hair of the very people who enslaved our ancestors. And this is sad to me”. He said, “Oh, that’s an interesting perspective”! Isn’t it though. Am I taking this way too seriously?
The good thing about Good Hair is the fact that Chris clearly points out how poisonous relaxers are. And on Oprah he made the point of pointing out how using chemical straighteners on children is really not the move. Chris ends his movie by stating that if his daughters make the choice to chemically straighten their hair, his advice would be that it’s more important what’s in their head than what’s on their hair.
Well that take you right back to the point of our up coming film “In Our Heads about Our Hair“. Because yes, it does matter what’s in your head, because ultimately, for too many, what’s in their head is going to reflect in some major way what’s on their head.