HAIR - A COMEDY THAT CUTS IT!
The Afro-American Hair Industry
Black hair is beautiful hair and UKHairdressers Afro Style Gallery is a favourite
with visitors to the site.
GOOD HAIR is a documentary
all about the extent many black women will go to for the perfect hairstyle. Written,
produced and narrated by popular comedian Chris Rock (Madagascar, The Longest
Yard) and winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival 2009,
GOOD HAIR has now been released on DVD.
Prompted by his five-year-old daughter, Chris Rock is tasked with figuring out
how to respond to her question: "Daddy, how come I don't have good hair?"
Doing what he does best, Chris uses his sharp comedic wit to delve into the $9
billion Afro-American hair industry. Joined by director Jeff Stilson (Ali G in
the U.S.Aiii) Rock's hilarious adventure takes an informative look at the definition
of good hair and exposes
how this booming business influences the activities, bank accounts, sexual relationships
and self-esteem amongst members of the black community.
As viewers are taken back to their roots, the search takes Rock and his documentary
team from a convention in Atlanta to the temples of India, where human hair is
one of the country's biggest exports. Along the way they meet hair care professionals,
beauty and barber shop patrons, plus a host of celebrities such as Ice-T, Nia
Long, Paul Mooney and Salt n' Pepa who lay bare their stories and observations
of GOOD HAIR.
GOOD HAIR marks a reunion of the force behind Rock's acclaimed and Emmy® Award
winning HBO series THE CHRIS ROCK SHOW, including producer Nelson George, writer-director
Jeff Stilson with writers Lance Crouther and Chuck Sklar.
Hailed by The Observer as "Funny, illuminating and appropriately slick", GOOD
HAIR is a smart, snappy comedy documentary that approaches a serious issue with
just the right amount of side-splitting humour. Make GOOD HAIR the latest addition
to your DVD collection available now.
The Chris Rock Interview
South Carolina-born African American comedian Chris Rock grew up in Brooklyn,
his first break arriving after Eddie Murphy cast him in his Beverly Hills Cop
II (1987). He went on to work on Saturday Night Live, from 1990-93, and summoned
a fine turn as a crack addict in New Jack City (1991). It was his scathing HBO
comedy special Bring the Pain (1996), which made him a household name in the US,
earning him two Emmy awards on the way. TV series The Chris Rock Show followed,
as did roles in films as diverse as Dogma, Beverly Hills Ninja, Lethal Weapon
4, Nurse Betty, The Longest Yard, Bad Company, Bee Movie and Madagascar, along
with a starring role in Down to Earth. Rock has also worked behind the camera,
both as a writer and director of Head of State (2003) and I Think I Love My Wife
(2007). In 2005, he launched TV series Everybody Hates Chris, which ran for four
seasons, scooping several Emmys.
Chris was available recently, to tell us all about his hair documentary... here's
what he had to say:
Q: How was your presentation of Good Hair in Brixton
the other night?
A: Great. It's that kind of movie. It just gets people talking. Some movies, after
the movie is over you go and eat and you talk about the food, but you see a good
movie, you are talking about the movie. This movie, you talk about it at the restaurant
and when you drive home and talk about it at work the next day.
Q: Do you think
people are surprised that the film isn't stuffed with comedy?
A: Hey, it's funny. People who hear that I'm doing a documentary, at first they
don't believe me or think has he gone serious? Comedians go serious? Hell, no.
Secondly, there are some people who think I am just making fun of black women
and their hair styles.
No. It is a serious doc and is actually pretty funny in the way that a Michael
Moore documentary is. It is quite informative. Black or white, you could enjoy
it. You are going to learn a lot and see a lot. It is a large-scope documentary.
It's travelling all over the United States and all over the world, to places like
Q: Where did the seed idea come from? Was it the Hair Show?
A: That's right, the seed idea was actually The Hair Show. I had stumbled on to
The Hair Show twenty years ago and I thought then, 'The Hair Show should have
been a movie'. But twenty years ago they weren't making these kinds of documentaries.
I had this weird idea and I didn't have a world in which to make it. Like the
guy who wanted to go to the moon. Loopy. 'What is he talking about, the moon?'
Cut to two years later. My daughters have a little hair issue and it kind of sparked
this kernel of an idea up. Like 'Oh, Man, I forgot all about that' and so it made
me go, 'Okay, I think I'm going to do that.' The Hair Show is twice a year too,
so I knew I had to do it.
Q: You mentioned
your daughters having hair issues as a catalyst for the movie…
A: Yeah. She was just really enjoying her girlfriend's hair. She was like, 'But
this is such good hair.
Q: She used those words?
A: Yes. And I was like, 'Baby your hair is beautiful. I like your hair much better
than hers.' Positive reinforcement. So that was what got me thinking about it.
More so than anything it was my daughters. Otherwise I would have taken it for
granted like everybody else.
Q: You were quite careful to be objective in the film, and not to criticise
people openly, like the woman who gives her three-year-old a perm…
A: The woman is wrong
for putting the thing on the girl's hair, but does she think she is wrong? That
is the thing. You can't arrest somebody for speeding if there are no signs up,
you know what I mean? She doesn't know what's wrong. She probably had her own
hair permed at a young age. I don't want to make people feel bad or be judgemental.
I played it down the middle and I'm really interested. It feels as though people
want me to be mad at certain people in the movie. But has journalism and everything
become so judgemental that we are not even used to seeing anything down the middle
any more? We are coming up in an era where people don't even know what objectivity
is. You don't really get in news any more. You get what is the right wing news
or what is the left wing news. It's weird. The news in the middle nobody watches.
There are parts of the news that are very objective but that bores the hell out
Q: Does the fact that so many black women want hair that belongs to non-black
women upset you at all?
A: It makes you sad at the end of the film when these people live in such poverty,
and make no money on selling their hair. Black women and their hair, it doesn't
make you sad. Kids, that makes me sad. Kids getting perms and kids learning these
habits at a young age… I have daughters six and eight, and there's no flaw on
my daughters. That freaks me out, if someone would think that there is anything
wrong with their kids. That stuff freaks me out. But otherwise it is, 'Just let
people do what they want to do.'
Q: Whatever race or creed people are, they just want to look different…
A: Women get bored very easily. Do you know why some white women dye their hair
blonde? Yet what's the point? You are beautiful. It's your own hair. But they
go blonde. Millions and millions of them. Of all the white men I have met I would
say ten per cent are blond at the very most. But most white women are blonde,
so like eighty per cent of white women dye their hair blonde? It is crazy. I am
going to assume that the same percentage of white men are blonde as women. There
are not a lot of blonde guys. There are just not. It is rare. It actually sticks
out, a blond guy. Unless you go to Norway or something, you don't see it.
Q: The TV series you produced, Everybody Hates Chris, what aspects were drawn
from your own life, the hard working, strict father?
A: That was real. The mother was real and I am the oldest of seven, while we only
had three of us on the show. But my brothers were always cooler than me, more
athletic than me and I was the oldest so it was kind of weird. The younger ones
are definitely cut a lot more slack. As the older one, you are an explorer. You
are knocking down walls and they walk through them.
Q: Did the comedy come from the fact that you were picked on at school for
being a minority or did come from being at home with the family and being happy?
A: I don't know. Maybe both. I was small too. Half of whatever happened to me
happened because I was just a skinny kid. A skinny kid is going to get their butt
beat anyway, so if I was a skinny white kid, I probably would have had the same
Q: When you were at school, apart from wanting to leave, what did you want
A: I wanted to be a comedy writer even back then. There were black comedy writers
but the only black people I ever saw in comedy were comedians. Writer? That seemed
so foreign. Writer? I don't know any writers. I had never seen a black writer;
it was like being an Eskimo or something.
Q: And now, do you still consider yourself a comedian first and foremost?
A: Yes. I am a comedian. Forever. No matter what.
GOOD HAIR is available on DVD by Icon Home Entertainment.
here to see Afro hair styles in our Style Gallery
Hair images featured on this page (from top right) Anne
Veck Hair, Identity-UK, Russell Eaton, Identity-UK