Friday, January 30, 2009

Chris Rock's "GOOD HAIR" ...OUR HAIR

By Phylencia Taylor
(Photo by the Sundance Film Festival)

Chris Rock had a double dose of African-American pride to celebrate last week. First the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, followed by Good Hair winning the Special Jury Prize Award at the Sundance Film Festival 2009, in Utah.  A humorous documentary co-written and narrated by Rock, directed by Jerry Stilson and Executive Produced by Nelson George. 

Rock was inspired to develop the film while doing stand-up in Atlanta in the 90's and was able to witness the Bronner Brothers (BB) International Hair Show (BB enters its 61st year of business in 2009, one of the oldest AA show and beauty business).  Albeit, when his young daughter Lola asked him "Why come I don't have good hair?" he was committed to exploring OUR hair and its connection to African-American (AA) culture, and in essence, self-love.

Good hair is an age-old topic discussed amongst OUR community.  The term "good hair" implies that African Americans with drier, thicker, tighter curl patterns have "bad hair."  Society and corporate America challenges our ability to love and embrace our own hair texture.  In part because of our acceptance/rejection in the work place, which directly affects our ability to monetize our lifestyles.  The "Good Hair" / "Bad Hair" struggle is yet another cultural divider that extends back to the days of Willie Lynch. {Share your comments below}

Hair has played a significant role in African-American culture, specifically for women.  A woman's hairstyle defines her physical look and can be upgraded with just one visit to the salon. We have a very special and emotional relationship with our hair, which supports the booming ethnic hair care industry. {See SEBC BLOG - Shineanthropology - Ethnic Beauty Spend in 2008}

Good Hair traces the growth of the $10 Billion industry rooted in the maintenance of African-American hair and its place in the ethnic community and our culture, from relaxers to weaves. The documentary investigates the heart of power and politics related to African-American women and our hair topics such as touching a black woman's hair/weave during love making, how our hairstyles affect self-esteem, activities and relationships.

Good Hair interviewed an array of celebrities in the documentary to probe their perspectives on hair and its political and cultural implications, to include:

Top Row (L-R):  Author/Poet, Dr. Maya Angelou, Activist, Al-Sharpton, Actors Nia Long & Raven Simone,       
Bottom Row (L-R):  Rapper/Actor, Ice T, Hip Hop Legends, Salt n Pepa, Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway, 
Hip Hop Pioneer/Entrepreneur/Producer, Andre Harrell

The film encapsulated an authentic feel for Hair Shows & Battles, working with renowned platform artist, Derek J, among other beauty industry consultants.

Derek J on the Sally's Beauty Supply Store stage at the Bronner Brothers Show - ATL . 7.08 . (Photo by SEBC)

In the documentary, Rock explores what "good hair" is culturally and the price Black women pay to aspire to it.  Good Hair's expedition across the US was vast, calling on salons and barbershops from Harlem to Los Angeles, inquiring beauty enthusiasts on African American hair culture.  Good Hair went as far as to travel to India investigating temples and laboratories of the wondrous weave industry.

SHINE is excited about the psychological paradigm shift that this film will inspire. Chris Rock, the conscious comical genius he is, explored the age-old topic of "Good Hair" and allows OUR Hair to SHINE.  Good Hair's general release date is pending.

The Truest Beauty SHINES from Within! | SEBC

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