FDL Movie Night: Being Ginger
Being Ginger director Scott Harris is blessed with gorgeous hair, the result of two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16 which causes a mutation in the MC1R protein that produce high levels of the reddish pigment pheomelanin and relatively low levels of the dark pigment eumelanin.
Red hair, which naturally occurs in 1%-2% of the worlds population has a long history of otherness, from the Babylonians, the Biblical Esau, and in medieval times when it was associated with being Jewish (Eastern European Jews had red hair) or Celtic, and/or a witch. During the time of Elizabeth I, who like her fatherHenry VIII, was red-headed, the hair color became fashionable.
The pre-Raphelites embraced red hair, and popularized the view of Mary Magdalene as a redhead. Nancy Drew and Ann of Green Gables were redheads. Lucille Ball, Tina Louise (Ginger on Gilligan’s Island), and Julie Newmar’s Catwoman all had red tresses, as do several Disney cartoon heroines. Red hair is associated with a fiery temper and possibly loose morals in women. In all its permutations–strawberry, Titian, carrot, copper, auburn–it stands out from the all brunettes and blonds, but over the past decade there’s been a full on anti-ginger movement in pop culture, bolstered by the cartoon show South Park.
Which brings us back to Scott Harris and his film Being Ginger in which he tries to find a woman who will love him, red hair and all. Tormented in elementary and high school for his hair color, he’s pretty sure that his gingerness is what keeps chicks away from him, a feeling reinforced by one woman he interviews who seems to be sent by the anti-ginger gods to torment him. A ginger dating site is a bust and a scam, but things change for Scott–who claims at the start of the film that he doesn’t find gingers attractive and redheads don’t date redheads–at Redheads Days in the Netherlands, where he meets a beautiful redhead and along the way gains a degree of self-realization and self-acceptance.