Funnyman Chris Rock tackles a serious subject in his documentary film debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. It's called Good Hair.
While the flick is "loaded" with Rock's "wisecracking humor," he reportedly takes a grave and honest look at the cultural pressures and identity issues that come with having "black hair." Rock explains: "I have daughters, and I'm really dealing with them and their hair a lot, and my friends have daughters, and we talk about our daughters' hair issues." In a Reuters Q&A, Rock adds: "I had no idea of the business of hair. I had no idea that it was as organized as Apple or Microsoft or General Motors. I had no idea the chemicals could be scary and damaging."
The film, which is being produced by HBO but may get a theatrical release first, shows "neighborhood salons, businesses dealing in hair-care products and the streets of India, where human hair is a huge export industry for hair weaves." In addition, Rock examines why some African-American women feel they need long, silky, straight hair to fit into white society. Executive producer Nelson George says: "It's this whole thing about approval. That approval is not simply, 'I want white people to love me.' It's like, 'I need a job. I want to move forward, and if I have a hairstyle that is somewhat intimidating, that's going to stop me from moving forward.'"
One might wonder whether Rock's perspective — as a man, a father and a comedian — can do justice to a subject he has no first-hand personal experience with. But consider this heartbreaking passage from Good Hair's description on the Sundance site:
When Chris Rock's daughter, Lola, came up to him crying and asked, "Daddy, how come I don't have good hair?" the bewildered comic committed himself to search the ends of the earth and the depths of black culture to find out who had put that question into his little girl's head!
Rock Splits Hairs With Documentary On Black Styles [AP]
Just a Minute With: Chris Rock On his "Good Hair" [Reuters]
Good Hair [Sundance]