Code red — the redhead behind Being Ginger

Scott P. Harris, the director/star of Being Ginger, talks about the plight of the redheaded male.

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Being Ginger starts out with director/producer/star Scott P. Harris looking in vain for a non-redhead girl to date (internalized gingerphobia, if you will) but quickly evolves into a story about bigotry, superficiality and, ultimately, acceptance.

“I've wanted to make a film about my experience as a redhead for some time," Harris said. "I didn't want the film to seem like I was whining about being teased, but the quest for love is universal, and I figured looking for a woman who specifically liked men with red hair might be a fun little adventure. But for me the film isn't really about my hair. It's about being different, and it's about the long-term impact bullying can have on anyone, so it always means a lot to me when someone who isn't a redhead says they relate to it. I feel like I discovered what the film was really about while I was making it.”

An advance screener of Being Ginger reveals that the film works because of its illuminating qualities. To be quite honest, I never thought being ginger was something that people were prejudiced toward (disproved in a scene where Harris is verbally shredded by a blonde, a seemingly educated Edinburgh local, about the minutiae of what makes ginger men unappealing). In fact, before the infamous South Park episode “Ginger Kids”, I didn't realize the word “ginger” described anything else but the root. Naturally, I had to ask Harris what he thought about this episode.

 
QUESTIONABLE: An interviewee tells Harris that "when you see a really hot girl with a ginger, you think ‘What she doing him?'”
  • QUESTIONABLE: An interviewee tells Harris that "when you see a really hot girl with a ginger, you think ‘What she doing him?'”
“When it first aired, I loved it," Harris said. "South Park makes fun of everyone, so to me having a whole episode just about gingers was like a badge of honor; it meant we were a real group."

On a second viewing of the episode, Harris realized that — unlike other irreverent but satircal spoofs on the cartoon show — that the South Park episode about ginger kids had no other intent than to bash redheads.

"I've heard the creators actually say that one of them can't stand redheads, and even broke up with a girl just because he found out that her mother was a redhead," Harris said. "When the first episode aired I thought they were trying to satirize prejudice in general to show how stupid it is, but I don't that's the case. I think they just don't like redheads. All that said, I have pretty thick skin, so it doesn't bother me, but I'm very glad it didn't air when I was in school. I can only imagine how bad it would have been for young redheads at the time to have everyone coming in to school the next day to tell you that you don't have a soul. It's a stupid joke, but stupid jokes can still be cruel.”

One more interesting tidbit about Being Ginger is that it features a Tampa resident, Emily Perkins, during a pivotal moment in the film. Perkins, who is a USF graduate/UT Masters student and currently works in a consulting firm in Tampa, happened to be in the right place (Redhead Days in the Netherlands) at the right time (the film’s climax; a charming moment to say the least).

Perkins too has noticed her fair share of ginger preconceptions, but her experience is almost the antithesis to what Harris argues happens to ginger men.

“There is a double standard." Perkins said. "If you’re a man with red hair, then you’re Ron Wesley. If you’re a woman with red hair, then you’re Jessica Rabbit. For me, most of it has occurred as an adult regarding the hyper sexualized stereotype of ginger women. It’s difficult meeting someone you think is really interested in you only to find out later he was just “putting in his time” so he could satisfy a fetish. He wanted to “find out if the rumors were true.”

Hear Scott P. Harris talk about the film live after a screening of Being Ginger 7:30 p.m., Tues., June 3, at the Ybor Muvico. Tickets. Tickets are $15 and can be ordered online.

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