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Good Hair

Don Imus's hateful, racist 2007 remarks about "nappy-headed hos" underscored the immense fear of, and fascination with, the hair follicles of African-American women. Chris Rock, the host, co-writer, and co-producer of first-time director Jeff Stilson's Good Hair, never mentions Imus's outburst; his interest in the political, social and sexual entanglements of the tonsorial stem from the more personal — specifically, when one of his two young daughters plaintively asked, "Daddy, how come I don't have good hair?" Rock, affable as ever, queries a few black actresses (Nia Long provides the most candid response: "Weave sex is a little awkward"); visits beauty salons; oversees an experiment by a scientist who demonstrates the corrosive effects of sodium hydroxide, the main ingredient in hair relaxer; travels to Chennai, India, where women sacrifice hair that ends up in weaves costing thousands of dollars in the U.S.; and stares in disbelief at the Paris Is Burning-like competition at the annual Bronner Bros.-sponsored Hair Battle Royale in Atlanta. Rock is certainly a sympathetic and curious observer, though including Ice-T's remark that "a real pimp can tell what a woman looks like bald-headed" betrays some of the gender politics that remain vigorously unexamined in this breezy, superficial doc. Good Hair opens October 23.

 
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