On September 30, 2009, Chris Rock stopped by The Oprah Show to talk about his documentary Good Hair. The film, which aims to get to the root of why African-American women place so much importance on their hair, has sparked conversation—and some controversy—around the country.
Critics of the film say they aren't thrilled Chris has gone public with African-American hair secrets. An Oprah Show viewer named Shirley writes: "It is not necessary to let every white woman know all that we do to compete and be accepted today. ... Chris, our hair is not a joke. There are some things we need to keep to ourselves to maintain our dignity."
Chris says he feels very strongly that the film should put everything out in the open. "We said they're hair 'secrets,' but you can get these products at any drugstore. You walk by a beauty parlor, you can look in the window. Black women aren't in the basement getting their hair done," he says. "The less secrets you have, the better you feel about yourself."
Chris says young women seem to be open about their hair—but their mothers and grandmothers aren't always as forthcoming. "It's much more a generational thing. I think women of a certain era, I'll say, do hide it," he says. "I think black people of a certain age really care a little too much what white people think and just need to relax and do you."
Sophine, who hasn't watched the film, says she was upset about what she saw in the trailer. "We're trying to promote positive black women, and I felt as though you belittled us. You didn't have any other races in there showing their hair secrets," she says. "When other races see the movie, they're going to laugh, but they're laughing at us. You're telling everything about us. We want to keep some secrets. We want to have positive love. Self-love."
Chris says his film does not degrade anyone. "I'm black, and all the art I do is mostly black. It's for everybody, but it involves mostly black people," he says. "The good, the bad—the humor, the nonhumor—it's all in there."
On the other hand, Everlee says Chris' film started great conversations with her white friends. "My co-worker asked me questions that she hadn't felt comfortable asking before. And I was able to ask her questions also, so it created a good dialogue," she says. "For that reason alone, I think people should see the documentary."
Chris says that was the goal. "My first intent is always to make people laugh, but at the same time, put a little Oprah in there. Put a little information in there ... a little positivity," he says. "It's not important what's on top of your head—it's important what's inside of your head. That is the theme of the movie."