Bad Hair: Spooks for the Horror-Challenged

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am not a horror girl in any shape, way or form, so take it from me, Hulu’s Bad Hair is a spooky-enough flick, with a nice touch of comedy, for this Halloween season.

Justin Simien’s Bad Hair follows a young woman named Anna (Elle Lorraine) living in an almost 1990s world, trying to up the ranks in the world of music television. Stakes are high for this Black-focused channel, and as beauty standards in the Black community largely shift from afros, braids and afrocentric styles to Eurocentric standards, the main character must decide if she’ll shift her appearance for the job, or rely on her hard work to earn a host position she so badly wants.

Anna has put in work at her job for years, yet her grind largely goes unnoticed, so she opts to follow the new wave and get a sew-in weave. The hair takes on a life of it’s own, and Anna, along with a star studded-cast seen in other Simien works and musicians Kelly Rowland and Usher, must eventually face how these weaves are terrorizing the people wearing them.

From patting your head incessantly, to lack of sleep from your newly-sown scalp feeling like a raisin, Bad Hair has several moments for relatable laughs. The effects were also grappling enough (blood is involved). There isn’t too much gore to need to turn your television off, yet just enough to get you to cover your face with a pillow. I appreciated the balance, as a not-so-spooky-season person, and even less of a horror lover.

Many critiques of the film center the message that could possibly be sent by the story of an African-American woman who is terrorized by her hair once she decides to straighten it—other critiques focus on a queer Black man, and not a Black woman, being the messenger.

As a queer Black woman, I feel a special relationship to queer Black men and femmes. Not to say this gives folks license to have a free-for-all in telling other groups’ stories, but to say that if that relationship isn’t being examined in relation to how Simien could have conceptualized the film, folks’ thought-process around Bad Hair has a glaring blind spot.

There are many messages to receive from the film. Despite being pure funny and decidedly ridiculous, Bad Hair forces audiences to question why a Black woman had to assimilate, adapting more accepted beauty standards in white workplaces, to get even close to achieving her dream. Why did she have to pay for the ills it brought?

I did not receive the horror that follows as a bad omen or retribution for her sins. I received it as consequence for the choice Anna was forced to make for her livelihood, as she did not want the weave until she realized it could take her career to new levels. The film speaks to the lose-lose situations Black women are constantly put in trying to do what they love in institutions not meant for them.

Oh, and the soundtrack is fire.

How much weave was used in the production of Bad Hair?

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