Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Good Hair


This is a great little documentary about the hair of African-Americans. Mostly African-American women. I have to swallow hard to use that term, which I really don’t like, as what we are actually talking about is Negro hair. Not that I really care what any group people choose to call themselves, but this is a term—along with “Asian”—that is so often misused. I have heard people on one of those awful forensic-science TV shows say things like “This hair came from an African-American.” How did you know? Did the hair have a passport? A birth certificate? How do you know it didn’t come from, say, an African-Jamaican? An African-Canadian? Or maybe just an African? However, I know when I’m licked, people will continue to use the term when not appropriate, and the movie is largely about American women with (usually) dark skin, and tightly-curled, kinky, “nappy” (choose one) hair, and the things they do to change it to look more … well, white. And it’s frightening. And funny, since it is done by Chris Rock, a comedian that you just instantly like, who doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in his body. He gets a lot of laughs, but I never feel like he’s laughing at these people. He is clearly on the side of “natural” hair but almost no one else in the film is. I’m pretty sure that, if you’re white, you will learn a lot here. And if you’re black, I suspect you will be nodding your (straightened or natural) head in recognition. The highlight comes at a gigantic hair show in Atlanta that has to be seen to be disbelieved. The climax of this show is a sort of hip-hop Ninja assassin Las Vegas Soul Train clipping competition, held in a boxing ring, between the four phattest, flyest, craziest hairdressers in the country, and involves people cutting hair underwater in giant fish tanks, or hanging upside-down, or leaping and spinning, with loads of scantily-clad dancers and flashing lights and explosions and brass bands … incredible! Stop running with those scissors! You could put your eye out!