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Being Ginger

How do you feel about people with red hair? Personally I can’t recall ever having had any opinion one way or the other, though I admit not to knowing very many: according to Wikipedia, they only constitute 1-2% of the general population.

Fledgling filmmaker Scott Harris is a redhead—a “ginger,” in British parlance, which the Texas native is used to hearing as a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. And in his experience many people have quite a strong opinion on gingers. Most grating to him is that women generally aren’t interested in dating redheaded men.

Being Ginger starts out with Harris deciding to film a documentary about this attitude as a way to find a girlfriend. (“It’s the 21st century,” he says; “there are dumber ways to find a date.”) He has the advantage of being in a country where gingers constitute a whopping 13% of the population, and once he gets over his discomfort at stopping strange women on the street to ask them why they would never date him, he gets a surprisingly open variety of responses. My favorite was “There’s no hot people with freckles.”

The tone of the film deepens when he talks about the issues he has had with his appearance, going back to being bullied as a child. The most memorable parts of the film subtly but effectively demonstrate that children are most sensitive to differences that set them apart from their peers, and that what adults may write off as “teasing” can leave lifelong scars.

Like the films of Ross McElwee (Sherman’s March), with whom I suspect Harris is familiar, Being Ginger deftly navigates the filmmaker’s awkwardness to gain our sympathy without falling into the trap of exploiting it. At 70 minutes it’s a slight film but an endearing one that leaves you wanting more, which may come if Harris can get funding to make a proposed sequel, An American Ginger in Paris.

Being Ginger screens Wednesday, July 2 at 7:30 at the Screening Room.

Watch the trailer for Being Ginger

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