I sometimes catch myself watching a movie I might have never watched when it’s on cable. I’d heard of this documentary/comedy by Chris Rock when it came out, but it was not going to be a movie I went to the theater to see. So, Sunday night at 8pm I found this movie showing on BET and decided to watch.
I was honestly surprised in a good way. I liked Chris in the movie Dogma and in the remake of The Longest Yard. He was a supporting actor in both of these movies, which was good. His humor I think is lost on me sometimes. But this documentary wasn’t about HIM. It was about hair. Yes, this is a two hour movie (on tv with commercials) about hair. But it was FASCINATING!
The premise of the movie is that Chris Rock is trying to discover what Blacks, mostly women, do to their hair and how it will effect his daughters. He visits a company that creates relaxers. He also goes to a scientist who explains to him what the chemical (sodium hydroxide) is and what it can do. After 4 hours a soda can disintegrates while sitting in this stuff. We also find out that relaxers are called “creamy crack”, because once you start on the stuff you can’t get off.
Weaves are also explored in this movie. Rock travels to India to find out where/how the hair is collected. The majority of human hair used for weaves is exported from India, and is the third biggest contributor to the country’s GDP. CRAZY. According to the Hindu religion, hair is a sign of vanity (as it is in many other religions). As a form of sacrifice, Hindus cut their hair in a ceremony called tonsure. The majority of the hair exported for weaves are collected from this ceremony, washed, and arranged for sale. We also learn that a weave costs $1,000 AT LEAST. And that’s just for the hair!
Another theme of the movie is the role of the barber shop in the Black community. Rock explores the idea that even during economic downturns, the barber shop or beauty salons do just as well. Interestingly enough, salons that cater to Caucasian women tend to not do as well and the sale of at home products tend to increase. The idea of the barber shop and beauty salon as a gathering place for social and informative reasons has been explored in previous movies as well. Rock also explores the idea that many of the products that are marketed are not owned by Black companies. Therefore, the money that is spent from relaxers, weaves, and general hair care, most go to Asian companies or large corporations.
There were two parts of the movie I especially loved. The first was the hair competition. The annual Bronner Brother’s hair competition is also weaved (pun intended!) into the story line. We meet four ambitious stylists in Atlanta that are competing for the title of Top Stylist of the Year. The stunts that these groups do to win are amazing. The second reason I loved this movie was for the cameos. Chris Rock had everyone from Nia Long, to Raven Simone, to Ice-T, to Salt-n-Pepa, to Rev. Al Sharpton, to Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou!!!! To hear these ladies and gentleman talk about their hair as it relates to relationships, sex, status, and public policy was hilarious and amazing.
I really recommend this movie. I give it an 8 out of 10.