Yesterday I saw the movie Good Hair by Chris Rock. I've been dying to see it since I first saw the trailer a few months back. I was even more interested the moment he said " Indian hair is worth more than gold"

Or something like that.

But after seeing the movie, I do have a few bones to pick with Chris Rock.

A Little Introduction

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! Good Hair visits hair salons and styling battles, scientific laboratories, and Indian temples to explore the way black hairstyles impact the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of black people. Celebrities such as Ice-T, Kerry Washington, Nia Long, Paul Mooney, Raven SymonĂ©, Maya Angelou, and Reverend Al Sharpton all candidly offer their stories and observations to Rock while he struggles with the task of figuring out how to respond to his daughter’s question. What he discovers is that black hair is a big business that doesn’t always benefit the black community and little Lola’s question might well be bigger than his ability to convince her that the stuff on top of her head is nowhere near as important as what is inside.

Moving On...

So eventually the question comes to weaves. And where all the hair comes from for the 100 % original Human hair weaves. Apparently a huge percentage of it comes from India ! So Chris Rock goes to India ( Chennai).

Recap : It is a funny documentary on hair and we are now on the topic of weaves and the hair for it coming from India.

At this point Chris Rock and his director decide the best way to describe India and the purpose they are there by mentioning the percentage of people below the poverty line in India and showing clips of poor people suffering in India.

Video clips. Not hair clips.

Really ?

This is a story about hair. Why does it matter what percentage of people in India live below the poverty line ? If they do mention it, I'd like to see them tie it back to the hair story. Ideally I would imagine they would show gorgeous or exotic Indian women ( as Padma Lakshmi puts it) and their long shiny black hair. Show women from all walks of life and their hair glistening under the hot Indian sun.


And then it cuts to a shot of him riding on a bullock cart. Remember he is in Chennai - one of the major cities in India. Think Chicago. Think San Francisco. Big. Huge. Well relatively. Home to some of the biggest multinational corporations, five star hotels, best schools in the country and more importantly home for several women with gorgeous hair !

Nobody. Absolutely nobody rides on a bullock cart in the middle of the city. Yes they do in smaller towns and villages. But that's not where he was. He was bang in the middle of Chennai - a big city (Chicago, SanFran, relatively) !!

You know what is popular in India ? Scooters and Motorbikes. Why not show that ! Why not show beautiful Indian women/ girls riding a scooter with their long hair out in the wind ! That would make more sense that a bullock cart.

I would have liked him ride a taxi like the rest of India actually does. I bet he did that too except they chose not to show it.

And stay on point. Don't go all National Geographic on us talking about poverty, poor people and suffering. Yes, the nation might be poor but you are not here to document that !


And then he comes back to Beverly Hills. He is in a store where an Indian guy is selling the real 100 % Indian human hair to a store owner. Chris Rock asks this Indian guy- " Do you ever say this hair is from a Hindu Princess and charge a little extra ??"

Hindu princess ? Hindu is a religion. Not a province or a dynasty or a kingdom. There were several rulers of India who were Hindus. I am just not sure they identified themselves as Hindu Kings and princesses. Second there are no Princesses and Kings in India anymore. Remember Gandhi ?Yeah thanks to several hundred thousands of Gandhis in India we have been an independent nation for over 62 years . It all ended even before Chris Rock was born.


I just wish people wouldn't reinforce stereotypes blindly.


That being said I am glad they showed people speaking English. Because its for real. A good majority of people in Indian cities converse in English.

I am glad no elephants were shown.

A few other thoughts that came to during the movie were...

Hey I'm Indian. My hair looks just like the ones shown on screen. So, how much is mine worth ? Really can I grown it out and sell it ? A thousand dollars ??? I can literally have my own free standing NARS blush counter with that money.

Not that I would ever do it. But, you know. Its good to know.

So Janet Jackson & Raven Symone actually have Indian Hair !!!

100 % Natural Indian Human Hair. LOL ! It does sound funny.

Not a bad business to get into. But I would never get into it. I have a weird phobia of touching anybody else's hair. Let alone hair that is just lying there in huge heaps and being sold in kilos.

In conclusion ...

This is a long conclusion.

Not a one that goes BANG !!!!
And people are standing up, applauding and going all BRAVO BRAVO.
It'll take me a while to get to that. So hang onto your seats.

Rich or poor, in India its a mom - daughter thing. Just like it is in the rest of the world. Moms oil the daughter's hair so its healthy and shiny. They monitor the length . They remind you that they spent a good part of Sunday mornings oiling your hair and taking good care of it. You dare not go and ruin everything by getting a hair cut !

Going for a haircut is an ordeal that starts with asking your mom ( God forbid Dad takes and interest in this too. My Dad does not.) for permission to cut it. I had to ask until I was officially recognized as an adult. I was 23 then.

I'd love to have seen a bit of this mom - daughter - hair drama in the movie.

Other than that, I did learn a lot from this documentary. The movie was funny and very informative at the same time. It is a wonderful insight into the world of women and their hair. You will never guess how big that world is !


"I'm not my hair."

"Do what ever makes you happy."

You can let go of your seats now. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Indian Girl
PS : You can see a ten minute video of the Indian part of the documentary here. The quality is very very bad. Keep the volume low.


josie said... @ November 10, 2009 at 2:43 AM

i nw!!!! hate the sterotypin. i went to india two years ago and guess what i didnt see any elephants,bulls or anything like even in villages or town. im sittin here scratchin my head when i see these. I mean i been to chennai 7 years ago and i didnt see any elpahnts nd bulls or people riding bullock !!!!!! all i see was ppl dricin vespa type scooters and lookin cool while driving thorugh the traffic.if i see him in life i would ask him to show in which part of the city did he see people ridin bullock carts and if he never saw any middle calss people.incase he fogot that most indian people are middle class.
P.S. one black womean actually asked me if im going to cut my hair.LOL right infront of my dad!!! i was like no and she was like you would get a lot money for my hair and i was no, no, no , never!!!

Aron Ranen said... @ November 10, 2009 at 3:19 AM

Please take a moment to check out my documentary film BLACK HAIR

It is free at youtube. 6 parts including an update from London, England.

It explores the Korean Take-over of the Black Beauty Supply and Hair biz..

The current situation makes it hard to believe that Madame C.J. Walker once ran the whole thing.

I am not a hater, I am a motivator.

Plus I am a White guy who stumbled upon this, and felt it was so wrong I had to make a film about it.

self-funded film, made from the heart.

Can it be taken back?


Prab said... @ November 10, 2009 at 5:05 AM

Well said, IG.

Husha said... @ November 10, 2009 at 5:26 AM

No offense, but it's not all stereotypes he's reinforcing.

The truth IS that, percentage-wise, most Indians are staggeringly poverty-stricken.
If you reitarate that, it's not necessarily a bad thing. The more people care about such an issue, the better off your country will be in the end because positive change can come about.

But from what it sounds like, with the random bullock cart and all, he probably thought of himself as a superhero humanitarian or something.

I think he's kind of a douche, to be honest. He thinks he's funny, and the movie was the Chris Rock perspective. Not the politically correct, educated perspective.

An Indian's Makeup Blog ! said... @ November 10, 2009 at 5:42 AM

Hi Josie !

Great points ! And the hair story is hilarious ! Makes one appreciate its worth a lot more ! LOL !

An Indian's Makeup Blog ! said... @ November 10, 2009 at 5:42 AM

Hi Prabs !

Thanks doll !

An Indian's Makeup Blog ! said... @ November 10, 2009 at 5:46 AM

Hi Husha !

Absolutely none taken ! To each our own !
I agree it is the truth. Personally I just don't think the name or the brand India should be synonymous with poverty like he puts it. Plus we are called a third world country so everybody knows it. In the end I am with you that it is his perspective. I respect that.

MANISHA said... @ November 10, 2009 at 7:06 AM

Hi IG,

Well said. And I am proud of my country and the hair I have.

SS said... @ November 10, 2009 at 7:28 AM

The stereotypes endorsed by this video are sick. It is a mockery to show bullock carts in Chennai. Come on!! I'm sure they must have shown starving people along the roadside too! Yes, this does exist in India - but it is not India in totality. Just like any other civilized country their are people who belong to different economic strata - I can't believe filmmakers turn a blind eye to roads crowded with cars, SUVS, bikes, etc.... and just focus on a bullock cart. If you're going to show a cart why not show what the rest of India is like too? ....... I'm not pointing my finger at your blog or you - love your blog btw!! Just wanted to say my two cents. Growing up here it has been frustrating convincing people that India is not the land of snake charmers.

Anonymous said... @ November 10, 2009 at 9:13 AM

great post/critique! want to see this movie now.

Anonymous said... @ November 10, 2009 at 6:01 PM

I follow your blog with interest but to be honest I've always found it a bit light... This post has absolutely given me an insight into a life and personality behind it. Well put, I've been to India a number of times and love the country, and I'm also fed up with the easy stereotyping it always brings up. Being European, I want to add - how dare someone from the US talk about the poverty in India. Nothing struck me as 3rd world recently as LA.


Anonymous said... @ November 10, 2009 at 10:06 PM

I couldn't stop laughing after I read your article. I am from chennai and even 5 years back there was no bullock carts in chennai.. lol and right now the indians are more mordern than me :) .

I remember the hair episode with my mom. Its so true that to cut your hair, you have to fight with your mom :D .

In all the documentaries and movies regarding india, they always show poverty. I was shocked when after seeing the movie slumdog millionaire, everybody (not indians) thought that india looks like that :( .

Others don't even realise that majority of people in india are rich by US standards.

Fantastic article and I loved reading about this one.

M.J. said... @ November 12, 2009 at 3:35 AM

Interesting. I saw his movie as reinforcing negative stereotypes on the other end- ALL Black women are half way bald and pay for their hair (and don't think highly of their own hair)...sooooo not true!! It's interesting to see the stereotypes from an Indian's perspective.

Anonymous said... @ November 13, 2009 at 10:10 AM

I havent seen it yet, but I am scared to. And if you feel embarrased about his choice of transportation( which he probably did for the quietness and drama--scooters are pretty loud to film over), think about the embarrasment of the people who actually need the weaves. I'm glad that part is funny to you, but I dont feel like black hair should be entertainment.

An Indian's Makeup Blog ! said... @ November 13, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Hi Anon.

The only part I found funny was the Indian - human part. Arnt all Indians - human ? LOL. This was what I found funny !

Crissy K said... @ November 14, 2009 at 1:45 AM

I agree with Alteregoishere. I just came from Delhi just two weeks ago, before that I was in Kathmandu,Tamghas and Bhutal in Nepal. No time did I see bullocks..even in the village in nepal. I saw some people using bulls for plowing the fields that was it. Also, I do agree that many people are rich by US standards. Especially in the large cities. Even poor people eat better than people in the US. I just think people are more motivated by things that actually matter, like friends and family, food, and education not frivolous junk like the latest makeup and clothes. ( lol I'm the frivolous makeup junkie) Also hair is a big deal too. there are so many commercials and ads for hair care, oils, shampoos, and masks. My mother in law came to me everyday with mustard oil. I'll tell you one thing, when I came back to the states my friends were all saying my hair looks super healthy and long.

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