How do you oppress a straight, white, able-bodied cisman? According to filmmaker Scott P. Harris, you give him red hair and send him to Scotland.
In his lighthearted, Kickstarter-funded documentary Being Ginger, Harris, a redheaded American studying film at the University of Edinburgh, explores issues of bullying, loneliness, and longing for love.
Interviewing women on the street in and around Edinburgh, Harris is told repeatedly to “get used to getting rejected” and that the women he speaks to “would never date a ginger” because it’s “unattractive.” Because red hair suggests weakness, “mutation,” and a lack of masculinity, Harris offends public sensibility simply by existing, and it’s truly painful to watch.
He appears well-adjusted enough to brush off most rejection with a sigh, a chuckle, and the donning of a sandwich board reading “Looking 4 a woman who likes Gingers. Seriously,” but Harris tears up when discussing how he was treated as a child at school. Even imagining an all-ginger world, Harris says he expects oppressive power structures would emerge.
In the film’s second half, Harris travels to the Redhead Days festival in the Netherlands, where he confronts some of his own prejudices against red-haired women and, especially, against gingers dating other gingers.
Harris is wistful, funny, and articulate about his romantic neuroses and insecurities, saying of one woman, “I was crazy about her, even though she was cruel to me.” Unfortunately, he sometimes fails to go deeper, saying very little about the woman he likes most beyond that she’s “so beautiful.” How can he expect audiences to look beyond the superficial when he struggles with it himself?