Comedian Chris Rock has made a fine living for himself through his incendiary stand-up. While a significant portion of his humour comprises the prerequisite sex, drugs and race relations much like compatriot funster Dave Chappelle, Rock has also proven himself to be a deeply intelligent and socially conscious person over the years through talking head appearances in documentaries such as Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine.
Good Hair is an excellent example of this. Spurned to action when his daughter asked him “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” Rock takes what could have simply been a knee-slapping jaunt into the comedy of the ghetto and instead provides us with a fascinating and eye-opening documentary about cultural pressure for black women to have “white woman hair”, and the roaring hair trade that goes with it. Anchored by a focus on the Bronner Brothers’ annual hair convention in Atlanta and the colourful characters therein, Rock takes us on a journey from the barbershops of the slums to the spiritual heartland of India; the main supply line for hair. Through scores of interviews – including hair trade contestants, vox pops, plus notables such as Ice T, Eve, Salt N Pepa and the utterly wonderful Maya Angelou – Rocks discovers the dangerous and poisonous lengths people will go to for their image, the enormous financial strain this imbues, and the roaring international hair trade where religion and commerce unite. What makes this documentary truly successful is Rock allows his subject to do the talking, sliding in enough comedy to maintain the interest without becoming try-hard funny. As a result, we have an enjoyable and educational documentary well worth your time.