Movie Preview: Good Hair
From a Guy's Perspective

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Our Fab Chick Movie must see is the Chris Rock documentary, Good Hair. We've allowed friend to The Fab Chick, Shydel James, to share with us his experience watching the film.

We thought it would be great to hear about the film from a guy's perspective. Be sure to check out Good Hair in theaters starting tomorrow.

A Hairy Situation
By Shydel James

As I sat down inside the screening room of the posh Times Center in New York City waiting for Good Hair to start, I had a random flashback to my childhood.

I remembered doing chores: making my bed. Washing the dishes. Sweeping the floor. Taking out the garbage. But every six weeks or so, my mother had one special request.

“Shydel, can you grease my scalp for me?”

Before I could say no, she was already pulling out a jar of gunk she called stink grease. It was a mixture of Glover’s Lane (oil used to treat itchy, irritated scalp issues), vitamin E and petroleum jelly - and stunk to high heaven. It smelled like a blend of skunk funk, rubber bands and salt fish.

I’d sit on the couch and she’d plop down on the floor in between my legs, part her hair and have me use her comb to scratch up the scabs left from the perm she gave herself the week before. Then I’d dip my finger in the stink grease, hold my breath and rub it into her scalp.

This routine went on until I moved away to college.

Having grown up watching my mom and granny slumped over the sink, rinsing relaxer out of their hair and seeing my fair share of hot combs sitting on the stove, I was excited to watch Good Hair.

I know all about new growth and touch ups. And why a Black woman’s hair can’t get wet. And how I should never touch her hair because nine times out of ten, it’s not real and someone is likely to get embarrassed – and smacked. Therefore, I didn’t think there was anything Rock could teach me that I didn’t already know. I was wrong.

Inspired and bewildered when his daughter asked: “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” Rock went on a documented quest to come up with an answer (or explanation) to her question.

His pursuit lead him to Greensboro, N.C., home of the Dudley empire, one of the few black owned hair product companies in the world. There, Rock visits the factory where the relaxer, or as he refers to it, nap antidote, is made. The images of the Dudley estate and thousands of hard-at-work factory workers show just how lucrative the hair business has become.

He then heads south to Atlanta, home of the world-renowned Bronner Bros. hair show. There, he interviews and shadows four hair show contestants as they prepare for their big showdown. Check for Jason Griggers, the only white contestant and by far the most hilarious. Rock also chats with vendors hocking everything from weaves to shampoo and conditioner. He learns that African-Americans make up 12% of the population but buy up a whopping 80% of hair products.

The most jaw-dropping stop on his jaunt was a two-week visit to India. That’s where most of the weave Black women buy comes from. But the women in India (some of whom have their hair cut off their heads while they are sleeping) don’t sell their hair. They practice tonsure, a religious sacrifice that requires one to shave their head in exchange for God’s blessings. Their hair is gathered up and sent to a weave sweatshop where women comb the bugs out of the hair and sew it to tracks. From there, it’s shipped to “the weave capital of the world:” Los Angeles.

It’s in L.A. where Rock witnesses a real life weave buying exchange between a seller with a suitcase full of hair worth $70,000 and a top hairdresser in Beverly Hills.

Peppered through out the documentary are riotous interviews with numerous celebrities, which include Salt-N-Pepa discussing how Pepa’s trendsetting asymmetrical hairdo in the “Push It” video was really a perm gone bad; Nia Long who explains why getting her hair wet in the shower with a man is more intimate than sex and Tracie Thomas who poses the most hard-hitting question in the entire documentary: “why is it revolutionary to keep my hair the way it grows out of my head?”

Rock also chatted with legendary poet Maya Angelou who calls hair “a woman’s glory.” The 81-year-old told Rock she didn’t get her first perm until she was 70!

How does a woman go 70 years without a perm and then suddenly decide to get one? What made Angelou bite the bullet and join the “creamy crack” club? Rock didn’t ask her. I wish he did.

The documentary is at its best when Rock is mingling with everyday folks in hair salons and beauty shops around the country.

I got unexpected laughs and enlightenment from a group of Black men in a Harlem barbershop who told Rock they have a better sexual connection with white women because they can run their fingers through their hair – and pull it. When talking about having sex with a Black woman, one man says he has to constantly remind himself: “keep your hands on the titties.”

I was saddened and disgusted when Rock visited a salon in Atlanta where a 4-year-old girl was getting her second perm. She didn’t like the process, but felt she needed do it to look pretty like the other girls in her class.

It’s contrasting moments like this, which make Good Hair a must-see.

Rock blends his trademark comedy with genuine trepidation and concern, without being overwrought or preachy.

The documentary did get a bit schmaltzy at the end when Rock realizes he has to tell his daughters the stuff on top of their head isn’t as important as what is in it. However, it did elicit an awww from the audience. Mission accomplished.

After the lights went up in the theatre, I turned to the woman next to me. She was a sexy, coco-brown skin woman who rocked a short, curly afro.

“Did you like the film?”

“Eh. It was pretty good,” she said. “It would have been nice to see Chris Rock interview more women who looked like me.”

A woman wearing her natural hair felt underrepresented in a documentary called Good Hair.

Go figure. 
Shydel James is an actor/writer based in the NJ/NYC metro area.

He holds a BA in theatre from SUNY Empire State College and has acted in numerous film and stage productions.

When Shydel isn't busy learning monologues, he's hunched over his beloved MAC, pumping out stories for Upscale magazine where he's been a contributing writer for over a year. He's also got clips in several other publications including King Magazine and (RIP).

You can follow Shydel and all his randomness on Twitter at