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(Almost) Everybody Loves Chris Rock

(Almost) Everybody Loves Chris Rock (photo)

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When Chris Rock’s young daughter asked him one day why she didn’t have “good hair,” the comedian extraordinaire began thinking about the issues surrounding African-American women and their tresses — or rather, their painstakingly and expensively straightened or even artificial hair. Directed by Rock’s Emmy-winning collaborator Jeff Stilson (“The Chris Rock Show”), the hilarious and occasionally horrifying new doc “Good Hair” investigates beauty salon culture and the lengths black women go to for the sake of self-esteem and societal pressures.

Rock himself acts as our guide, interviewing scientists about the toxicity of sodium hydroxide relaxers, schoolteachers and other working-class people who overspend on weaves (hair that comes from heads in India, another stop on Rock’s journey), and celebrities like Ice-T, Maya Angelou and the man who modeled his mane after his buddy James Brown’s: Reverend Al Sharpton. Framing the whole investigation is a stop in Atlanta for the Bronner Bros. Hair Show, an annual trade industry event whose headline attraction is a wild, avant-coiffure showdown between the top stylists of black hair. I sat down with Rock and his small entourage (his make-up woman was applying powder that can’t be appreciated here!) to talk ‘dos, don’ts and the $5 million lawsuit against the movie that was reported mere hours before our chat.

Are you tired of talking about yourself today?

You know what, doing press for this movie isn’t that bad because it’s not talking about me that much. The topic’s actually bigger than me. Even the stuff I’m in, it’s just me, so it’s not like I have to make up this bullshit talk about a character: “What would the character do?” [laughs]

Then let’s talk “Good Hair.” You’ve obviously been familiar with African-American hair your whole life, so what specifically did you learn from this project?

What did I learn? The money aspect of it, especially when you’re talking about someone without money, how much they spend on their hair was mind-boggling. You know that relaxer burns, but you didn’t know it could eat through a can. Little stuff like that.

The film could be called an exposé. What do you hope audiences will take from this?

Art, to me, is a break from reality. I never looked at art as changing reality, [unless there’s] an accumulative effect. If there were nine of these movies, I guess it might change something, but I don’t know. What I look for is for people to laugh and have a good time, and hopefully, they’ll remember the last time they laughed at me. “Hey, I laughed at him before! This guy really makes me laugh.” This is what I hope to achieve. [laughs]

10082009_chrisrock4.jpgIt is funny when you point out the ridiculousness, but you also bring up significant issues since many people will spend their last dollar to not have “bad hair.” Could that be considered an addiction?

I think the whole country has an addiction, spending beyond their means. That’s quite evident by what’s been going on the last few years, with this housing stuff and what-not. Hair is not exempt from that. You could do an exposé on TVs and the amount sold to people that couldn’t afford them last year. Did you need the flat screen? Americans have an addiction of too much anything, and hair is just one of those things.

You still point to the possibility of a cultural reversal. In the ’70s, Pam Grier made natural hair cool and sexy, but now celebrities like Beyoncé have their fashion product deals, which perpetuate the problem. Would it take role models like her going natural to create a sea change?

Halle Berry was pretty natural, and that didn’t seem to affect anything. I don’t know, things are just a style. Natural will be back, because everything comes back. It’s just not coming back right now. I keep saying this movie will end weaves and relaxers like “We Are the World” ended world hunger. You make an attempt.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…