i saw chris rock's 'good hair.' i saw it with my mom and my aunt, both of whom have hair. in fact, all of the women in the theater had hair and many of them seemed very invested in what chris had to say about the subject.
i saw the film in a small, old style theater; pre-megaplex. the screen was about the size of a nice plasma. this made things a bit more intimate than i like, but when in rome...
the theater filled with small groups of women and a handful of couples. initially, outside of being black, there wasn't any specific common thread.
and then the film started...
at one point, after seeing what the chemical in a perm can do to a soda can, it felt like all of the women in there (my mother and aunt excluded) were going to join hands and pray.
i have NEVER experienced this sort of behavior in a theater. i have heard people shout recipes ('soul food'). i have seen people dance in the aisle ('school daze'). i have seen fights (magic johnson theaters - crenshaw plaza). none of that compared to the way these women began to speak, full voice, to each other as they watched this film.
there seemed to be both a sense of fun and embarrassment. a woman began screaming, 'my hair is beautiful!' when chris couldn't get shop owners to buy black hair. another woman screamed, 'no more perms my sistas!' half the audience applauded and began chanting 'no perms!'
as i sat there, i actually got sad. folks have really done a number on us. i don't care what anyone does to their hair; but the idea that the 'norm' is a perm, is sobering. the idea that it's radical just letting your hair grow as it naturally comes out of head is pretty bad.
the saddest part of the film was a moment with a couple of high school girls. one of the girls had a natural. the other girls with straight hair went on to say how unkempt and possibly unemployable the young lady with the natural looked. the girl was beautiful.
parents, uncles, aunts, friends sisters, brothers...we have to do better.
side note: i will discuss this new fascination w/black men in riding boots in another post. chris' film featured the very popular stylist derek j. from atlanta's 'real housewives.'