Monday, October 12, 2009
Follow-Up to Good Hair: Still Being Mocked & Who Went To See It?
I know somebody actually paid money to see Chris Rock's "Good Hair" MOCKumentary. The question is how did it fare? Did your curiosity take over and you simply had to go? The pre-release buzz was so great that even some black men went to see it - which of course tells me there was some serious foolishness going on.
Rock came back to Oprah's
couch table Friday so they could discuss the "angry" emails she received. Well there was legitimate critique of this work by numerous writers, bloggers, etc. with the discernment to see how Rock lacks the emotional maturity to cover a subject of this magnitude with the respect it requires. She was very selective in what she chose to read on air. I know she didn't read my email to Harpo that's for sure. The criticism isn't about the subject but about airing dysfunction publicly and who is telling our stories and why.
If you notice Oprah is mocking the very women who objected and seems to be falling into the guard dog, soldier for black men role as she attacks another black woman for not blindly supporting her "man". Some have suggested that Oprah is a wholly divested from the "dead" black community mentality but if her latest actions are any indication she's not removed from "save the black man" mode. From breaking bread with the unrepentant former drug dealer (who glorifies it in his latest song with Alicia Keys) Jay-Z, to her continued support for Rock, Tyler Perry & Steve Harvey I have to wonder who she's trying to reach out to. If it's to others still thinking in terms of race above all personal self-interest then her embracing of them should bring relief to those that have long complained about her "not doing enough". Which is code for telling and expecting black women to run to the rescue of everyone (uplifting black men especially) to their detriment while offering nothing in turn.
Where is her support for projects that don't mock black women or have us in "suffering and struggling through oppression" mode? She can do whatever she likes but this one-sided view displayed of black women really bothers me. Between that limited view and perhaps catering to an audience of those that don't have a problem with these men not offering anything of value to the collective, those of us who want to see compelling yet uplifting stories are left out.
So back to the subject at hand, Regina Kimbell's lawsuit
was (predictably) tossed. **I was given wrong information and can happily report the case is a go!!** As it turns out when she allowed Rock and his producers to view her documentary My Nappy Roots they weren't required to sign a non-disclosure agreement beforehand and wouldn't do so afterwards. It makes proving a copyright violation that much more difficult. This hearing will determine whether the case can proceed so let's keep our fingers crossed. This is the first step of a long road and appeals process.
Even the most savvy businessperson can get the shaft in Hollywood. Black women especially, we must be reminded time and time again to know our surroundings and the learn the rules of engagement in various social and business settings. People whose interest lie in making money are not our automatic friends and a person with a recognizable name is not our automatic ally. It would've been a different set of circumstances had they violated an agreement though as some of you may know from previous experience a contract is no guarantee of compliance or protection. Still it's better to have something.
If you're curious about her project though you can view a 15 minute clip here. Password: nappy. There's also a Facebook fan page you can sign up for. If your interest lies in exploring the spectrum of choices black women make in determining how to style their hair AND you want a true cultural/historical analysis (which is absent from Rock's trickle-down version) then go purchase this documentary instead. I'd love to see Ms. Kimbell try to get a distribution deal as the subject is now of interest to a wider audience (i.e. white people). It's time to make lemonade out of lemons. I also think Rock has got enough negative publicity (rightfully so) that less people will actually pay to see him making an a** of himself than he thinks. Those free screenings were packed for a reason.
Now back to the show commentary. When Oprah reads the email (which got a cut off a bit but I'd heard enough) from the woman who discusses how black men like to run their hands through silky hair I felt slightly dirty for listening. This poor woman is stuck in DBR-Ville, wasting her time fighting for those black men who have long left to go pursue their own interests. Predictably I bet we could surmise her life has consisted of giving too much and not getting anything in return or worse continuing to be used by some man for sex/food/shelter but not getting any of the benefits of true companionship. She may even think she wouldn't be found appealing to men of other groups.
What I found interesting was how Rock again tried to dismiss the core issue of what she was expressing by making a joke out of it. He discusses how he used to constantly have his hands in the hair of the non-black women he's dated (and cheated on his wife with as has been rumored) in a different portion of the show but he wants to try to invalidate her complaint. No, black women should not be "competing" with white women over black men. Or any other woman for that matter. Yes, other discerning women do recognize the weakness amongst many black men who seems to delight in the presence of any non-black woman regardless of her caliber. They make it so obvious! There are far too many good men out there looking for their Mrs. Right. Yes...a wife NOT a wifey. It's up to us to discern caliber over trash and how to play to win. That's so much better than what this woman is experiencing.
The other segment has a professional woman discussing how she doesn't want to be open for ridicule or rudeness. Oprah then proceeds to tell whites that seeing this MOCKumentary doesn't give them license to make assumptions about how black women style their hair but the damage has already been done. That ship has sailed. Black women's bodies are already on display and many whites still think they have a right to invade us out of curiosity. As if we're zoo specimens. Also since we've been so callously displayed as degraded sex objects by black men via hip-hop, etc. our image has already taken a huge beating.
It was also very disingenuous for Rock to make some fake moral statement about how secrets destroy people in relation to his documentary. He simply refused to discuss the influence of patriarchy and the desire for certain black men to escape their blackness by rejecting black women as mates as the root cause of this pursuit of "good" hair. It really isn't about white people. For many it's still about finding appeal amongst black men (specifically African American) which is a wasted effort as far as I'm concerned.
**By the way I want to do my own documentary about a subject matter sensitive to some black men: the myth of the giant penis. I can be chased down the street by Vienna sausages because oh my goodness that would be so funny. It's all in "good" humor, right? I'll get a panel of women to discuss how there's no real size difference amongst men of all groups. I would expect the same level of understanding and hands-off approach afforded to Rock.