Hair - no matter what style, colour or shape you happen to have been blessed with, it's bound to give you some heartache and a massive headache from that self-conscious and vain part of your brain. For black women hair is an even more complex story, and as I also found out from this hilarious documentary, an extremely expensive one.
When Chris Rock's five-year-old daughter uttered the worrying words, "Daddy, how come I don't have 'good hair'?" he set out on an exploration of cultural identity (and a slightly educational hair journey) to try to answer her question. His film looks at the bewildering goings on in beauty salons and at hairstyling battles across America. With input from stars of the entertainment industry and the 'weaveologists' and barbers from the famous salons and barbershops across the US, 'Good Hair' makes for some interesting opinions and thoroughly enjoyable viewing.
The documentary chronicles the evolution of African-American hair. From the graduation from the wig to the weave, it's fascinating to watch as these women (and a few men) explain their obsession with relaxers (also known as "the creamy crack" or "the hair crack"), weaves and their pursuit of straight hair. "Once you get a weave you will never go back," pipes up one of the weave-obsessed girls. Shockingly, the prices of weaves can escalate up to $5,000 and one trip to the weaveologist could leave you bankrupt (but you will have lovely flowing locks). As one man, penniless from the upkeep of his wife's hairdo, says: "Good hair could put you in the poorhouse and if you're not careful could burn down your house."
The film focuses on the Bronner Bros hairstyle show which takes place every year in Atlanta, a place that is steeped in black cultural history. Rock follows the preparations of four passionate hairstylists who are competing in the self-proclaimed "world's largest and the most exciting beauty show". Around 100,000 black hairstylists make their way each year to the show, which ends in a comical battle between the top stylists. This could include anything from cutting hair while hanging upside down on a pole, to creatively styling hair in a fish tank. It's hard to believe that this kind of thing actually exists (but believe me I've since looked it up and it does).
Rock is without a doubt the star of this documentary. Charm oozes from the funny man as he manages to get some gems of one liners from his interviewees. With his laidback style and modern take on the issue he could definitely teach Michael Moore a thing or two about documentary making. He uses the same approachable and likeable humour that catapulted him to fame in 'The Chris Rock Show' and leaves you convinced that he was the only man for the job. However, the controversy surrounding black hair is rooted in racism and although 'Good Hair' is both informative and sparks a debate, its failure to delve into discrimination is disappointing and ends up leaving the film somewhat superficial.
That said, it's still refreshing, with a good narrative, good company, and Good Hair.