Bad Hair, directed by Justin Simien, provides a thought provoking tale of a black woman’s insecurities being preyed on by an American corporation. The movie was promoted as a horror film, and that’s how it’s styled. When you take a closer look at context and cinematography, though, you realize that there’s a much bigger issue to discuss here. Anna Bludsoe’s life seems to revolve around her hair insecurity. With her natural 4C textured hair, she’s tried every treatment to make the kinky coils on her head look more ‘presentable’. However, when sew-in weave is introduced to the community around her, she sacrifices her rent money to get one installed on her. This is where the spoilers begin.
This new hair of hers is making every part of life turn right side up. She’s bagged her dream position, she’s making rent, and the guy that she has feelings for is finally showing her attention. The catch is: her hair needs blood to survive on. It literally feeds off of other people. As the film progresses, every Black woman is going to Virgie’s to get a sew in. We find out, though, that it is produced by the very CEO of the company Anna works for. After trying to shut Anna’s TV station down and belittling the Black creators of the station, he continues to profit off of their work and, ultimately, their pain. As Anna states at the closing of the movie, “The way they [the CEO’s ancestors] saw it, as long as their name was on the land, they could do as they pleased with anything that grew from it… whether it was plants or people.”.
This movie received a 39% rating from audience members, with one saying, “I thought this movie was going to be good and have a hidden message to the black women who feel the need to adapt to European beauty standards but this was a joke.”. The user who shared this opinion is not wrong in the commentary being on Black women adapting to beauty standards, but it’s masked with exaggeration as that is the true art of satire. Simien explores the way in which American corporations feed off of black culture. They profit off of the culture and the people with no regard to the violence that the black community faces.
Throughout the summer, after George Floyd’s death and during the BLM protests, large corporations received backlash for the lack of support or empty words of support. An article by Sandy Ho explores the statistics found by Laura Morgan Roberts between black college graduates and white college graduates who have the same qualifications. Black alumni of Harvard Business school are less likely to fall into CEO positions compared to their white counterparts. Roberts says, “‘They’re saying, ‘We’ve got the qualifications but we can’t get into the inner circle’.”. L’Oreal was one of many companies to be called out on social media. Munroe Bergdorf quote tweeted the brand’s photo that stated ‘speaking out is worth it’ in response to social justice occurring.
Munroe was fired in 2017 due to what she said online about the Charlottesville riot. In that, she said,” Most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism.”.
While Justin Simien produced what seemed to be a funny, scary movie, what lies beneath is a conversation worth having. No matter how much a company/corporation tries to be the face of anti-racism and cultural diversity, it will not matter until their actions match their words. America and capitalism thrives off of black people and other minorities. While the CEOs are all white or white passing, the rest of the staff is making 8$/hr with no opportunity for higher pay or positions within. So until the day comes that these establishments provide more genuine opportunities for BIPOC to advance professionally (not just a diversity hire), their “We Stand With You” will be meaningless.