The year is 1989 and New Jack Swing is about to push black culture from the margins to the mainstream. The question for the black employees of Culture, the music TV station at the center of writer-director Justin Simien
’s delightfully macabre horror-dramedy “Bad Hair
,” is what image do they — and their white executive Grant (James Van Der Beek
) — want to promote? Accuses one host, “You want us to appeal to a whiter — er, wider — audience.”
Before you can say Bel Biv Devoe, our heroine Anna (newcomer Elle Lorraine
), an assistant who aspires to star in her own show, finds her braided boss pushed out and replaced by sleek ex-supermodel Zora (Vanessa Williams
), who scowls at Anna’s short, natural curls and orders her to get a weave. And so ambitious Anna stitches her scalp with a stranger’s long, straight hair which, to her despair, literally slays.
In “Bad Hair,