Shadow And Act Managing Editor Brooke Obie moderated the MACRO Lodge Bad Hair panel while at Sundance. The panel, featuring director Justin Simien and cast members Ashley Blaine Featherson, Kelly Rowland, Lena Waithe, Yaani King Mondschein, James Van Der Beek and Elle Lorraine, discussed the social and cultural narratives told within what on the surface appears to be a campy story about killer hair.
Simien said that the film started after conversations about a particular style of Asian horror film.
“There’s like a bunch of hair horror movies…but it felt like there was a truly American story to be told in that kind of premise, and I went looking for one and there wasn’t one,” he said. He also referenced psychological thrillers from the late 1960s to the 1980s, such as Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Body Double, Carrie and others. “I love those movies…but there are no Black people in them,” he said. “I felt like I could really play with that genre but make it Black and say something about the kinds of systems that I find truly horrifying, the…absurdist realities that we have to live in and walk through every day.”
Simien also discussed the different meanings in the film’s title, saying that the colloquial term “bad hair” in the Black community means “the closer you are to white, the closer you are to right and anything else is unnatural.” Simien talked about how the mainstream Eurocentric standards of beauty have affected Black women.
“A system that tells you your hair is bad, the way it grows out of your head, is a really weird system,” he said, calling it “ripe for interrogation.”
You can watch the full panel below.
Photo credit: MACRO
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