Tag Archives: Being Ginger

Why I’m Making This Film

ImageToday is a special day for me.  It was two years ago today that I first took my camera and went to the park to see if I could find a woman who had a thing for men with red hair.  I was nearing the end of a Masters program in Filmmaking at the Edinburgh College of Art and I thought I could make a cute short film about being ginger.  In my wildest dreams I did not think it would lead me here.

I received a nice letter yesterday from a woman in Greece.  She told me that she wished she had red hair.  She also expressed complete dismay over the fact that I was making this film.  She simply could not understand why having red hair is an issue.  This is a fairly common letter so I thought today would be a good day to address it here.

Different people have different experiences, and different people respond in different ways to similar experiences, so it would be foolish of me or anyone else to think that they know what it is/was like for all redheads.  I try very hard to make it clear that I don’t speak for everyone.  I have met redheads who told me their hair was never an issue, and I’m very happy for them (if a little skeptical).

Having bright orange hair makes you stick out, and when you are a kid the last thing you want is to stick out.  The kid on the playground who sticks out, for any reason, is the one the bullies go after.  It has also been culturally acceptable to bully redheads for years, and for some (not all) it was terrible.  The fact that society has never deemed it terrible only makes it worse for those who go through it.

I’m fairly well adjusted now that I’m an adult, but people still say random things to me all the time, and some of it is shocking.  I’ve used dating as a subject in the film because the quest for love is something that everyone can relate to, and my hair and the way that I was treated because of it had an impact on my self-confidence.  Looking back at it now that I am near the end, it might be more accurate to say that the film is about the quest to be accepted, which might actually be more universal (can one thing be more universal than another, or is universality just a yes/no thing?)

I’ve spoken to people who weren’t redheaded who have asked me to make a film called “Being Tall” or “Being Short,” because for them being 6’6” or 4’11” had a big impact on their self-confidence, which in turn has impacted their social life as an adult.

The list of things that childhood bullies pick up on is staggering: being over-weight, being under-weight, having a facial scar, being too smart, not being smart enough, wearing glasses, being poor, being rich, being gay, being the only person of your race or religion in school, the list goes on forever.  This is something that (unless you are the luckiest person on the planet) we have all had to deal with at some point in our lives.  And while many people “get over it,” I know that many more don’t.  And that is who my film is for.  It’s called Being Ginger because that’s my thing, but really it should be called Being Different, and it is my sincere hope that it isn’t just a funny entertaining film (although I think it is that as well) but that it is my way of communicating to anyone who has self-confidence issues related to bullying that they aren’t alone.


Those Sinful Gingers

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to keep a blog.  When it comes to the internet I’m not a very technical person.  Mostly I just want to work on the film, but little things keep coming up and I feel compelled to share them.  Hopefully this site will work for me.

So I just had an interesting chat with a fan on Facebook and I’d like to share it.  She’s a redhead living in the US and she told me that when she was six or seven growing up in Montana, in a strong Christian community, adults would tell her on a pretty regular basis that she had red hair because she was sinful, and that she was going to lead a life of sin.

I know that red hair has always been associated with sin in art.  Judas was painted as a redhead so that he would standout from the other 11 apostles, and this painting really struck me when I first saw it at Musée d’Orsay:


But for adults to actually tell a small child that she’s sinful just because of her hair?  I’ve had to deal with my share of abuse, but I’ve never come across that.  And it wasn’t even that long ago, she was talking about the ‘80s. 

Mostly I wonder about the long-term impact of that on a child.  It seems to me that it has the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It also makes me wonder about the stereotypes other groups face.

I’m curious, has anyone else had to deal with this stereotype?  And do you think it’s had an impact on the person you are today?

Leave a comment below, or email me: beinggingerthefilm@gmail.com


Keep me informed.

How far is too far?

I’m confused.

I need to start this off by saying that I don’t have any answers. Only questions.

I’ve come across a lot of random abuse for being ginger. Enough that I decided to make a film about it. Now that I’m an adult I think I’m rather well adjusted and I choose to just laugh stuff off. The South Parkepisode didn’t bother me, in fact I remember at the time rather liking it. I figured South Park makes fun of everyone; if they make fun of your “group” it just means that you really are a group. Plus, as a fan ofSouth Park I always thought that there was a sharp edge to their humor on par with the best political satire. I didn’t think they intended to spread hatred or mistreatment of redheads, but instead were mocking people who had those views. But what is the real world impact of those jokes?

I was just made aware of a joke in an episode of a TV show called The New Normal. It’s a US show that airs in the UK on E4. The show follows two gay men and the surrogate mother of their child. Early on in the third episode, Baby Clothes, the three of them visit the doctor where they discuss tests to make sure the baby is healthy. One of the tests can detect upwards of 85% of birth defects, “Anything from spina bifida to red hair.” This shocks one of the fathers who immediately says, “Red hair? Can we do that test now?” The doctor replies, “You know I read online that Judas was a redhead. I don’t trust any one of them. Every time I see Reba McEntire I just want to shout ‘You killed my Lord and savior.’ You see a redhead walking down the street just go, ‘Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!’” (You can jump to 42 seconds in for the joke:)

I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all I’ve been told to my face that my hair color is a birth defect. My defense against such stupidity has always been to mock it. And I hope that is the intention here.

I haven’t actually watched The New Normal, apart from the first two and a half minutes of this episode, but it looks like a typical sitcom full of stereotypical characters. The one father who is so upset about the idea of having a redheaded child is also so vapid and materialist it would take an absolute moron to hold him up as a role model. So it should be okay for him to say something stupid and offensive because everything he says is stupid and offensive. But at the same time, what does it do to people who watch it and laugh at it? Also, no one corrects him. Instead they all look disgusted by the idea of having a redheaded child. The standard “rule,” which goes back to Archie Bunker on All In The Family, says two things: It’s okay to have an evil racist character as long as he is evil towards everything equally, and as long as there is someone else to correct him. This is the same rule that has allowed South Park to get away with so much. The anti-redheaded view is ridiculous, but not having someone there to point out how wrong it is, makes it okay. 

Last week I decided to take advantage of Google’s auto-fill feature to see what the most common searches were for “is being ginger.” First on the list was: is it a race, which is fair enough, but the eight options below it were quite shocking.


I thought it was ridiculous, so I shared it on facebook. I’ve also recently started a meme with different ginger themed ecards. I decided to mock what I’d found on google with this:


Now I’m sitting here, and I’m honestly afraid I might be part of the problem. At least one follower on facebook was offended, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and if you want to be creative and you want to be funny, sometimes you won’t be understood and some people will be offended. But I still feel bad about it.

I have other ecards planned, and some of them are based off of shocking things that real people have said to me. But now I’m questioning if I should actually put them out into the world. I can laugh at it all, I’ve been dealing with the stupidity for years, but I remember how hard it was a kid. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if the South Park episode had come out when I was 10.

Most of the feedback I get from other redheads has been extremely positive, thanking me for talking about the issue and sharing “our” experience. I hope that shining a light on it will make it better for others, but I just don’t know.

Please, tell me what you think. Where do you think the line is? Leave a comment below or send me an email: beinggingerthefilm@gmail.com

24 January 2013

Keep me informed.


It has to start somewhere


Welcome to the Being Ginger Blog!

This film has been a source of passion, frustration, and excitement for me for exactly two years (this Friday will mark the two year anniversary of the film’s birth), and this blog will hopefully be a way for me to keep you all up to speed on how things are going. (And I might include a few stories about my other misadventures.)

I’m still a bit leery about keeping a running total of my personal and professional challenges and triumphs for two reasons: first, I’m not actually that into self-promotion, and second, I only have so much energy. But I think it’ll be a good idea in the long run.

So here’s the first bombshell: I’m not finished with the film yet. I thought I was there, I really did, but last week I had a consultation with a fantastic editor I know and respect (who cut a documentary nominated for an Oscar), and she strongly suggested that I recut the opening. To sum up her assessment: right now the film is good, it could be great.

I made the changes she suggested, but now everything that follows the new opening sequence needs to be reorganised.

I realize that when I launched the Kickstarter campaign in August of 2012, I said I’d have the film finished by now. I’m extremely grateful for everyone who has donated time and money to help make Being Ginger a success. And I truly appreciate everyone’s patience.

With this blog, my goal is to keep you all in the loop about the film’s progress. You’ve all been amazing with your encouragement and willingness to share the idea of the film with your friends, and I’m excited to enter the final chapter!

22 January 2013

Keep me informed.