James McCann is a red head who is sick of other red heads whingeing. Picture: Roy VanDerVegt
ABOUT a decade ago, ginger jokes were everywhere.
South Park went viral with an episode joking that Gingers dont have souls. Summer Heights High popularised the term Ranga, which quickly became the years most shouted word from passing Nissan Pulsars. By 2010, gags about red heads were so overused that several reviewers at the Raw Comedy national final asked comedians to move on to other, less hackneyed subjects.
It was open season.
This cultural phenomenon coincided with my tender high school years. Besides having flaming red hair, I was tubby, short and wore both braces and glasses.
I backed up the look with extra-curricular activities like chess, debating, badminton and clarinet lessons.
I signed up for school musicals, hoping they might reverse my fortunes and entice some much desired female attention. I was mistaken, and accidentally magnified the already widespread, equally mistaken notion that James McCann was a homosexual.
And yet, funnily enough, I cannot remember ever being bullied for any of these immensely bully-able traits. I do, however, remember being called ranga on a daily basis for many years. There were several other, more creative names McCandle Stick stands out as a particularly good one.
A cute little James McCann.Source:Supplied
Most invectives throughout high school aimed below the belt Fanta Pants, Fire Crotch, and Ginger Pubes which was odd considering my very late puberty, and the then total lack of any such growth. At 15, as the oldest male soprano ever in the school choir, I would have welcomed a few pubes in any hue.
The constant ranga jeers werent especially pleasant but, then again, who has a wholly happy time at school? In the awkward years of adolescence, when the brain rewires and hormones wreak havoc, everybody feels isolated and misunderstood.
Some respond by lashing out, with the worst abusers often themselves being the worst abused. Others retreat into their rooms, listen to The Smiths, and write songs about their especial sadness.
Eventually most people grow up, get some perspective, and move on with their lives.
In recent years, however, something has gone wrong on a generational scale. Victimhood is in vogue, and redheads are trying to cash in along with everybody else.
R.A. N. G. A, the Red And Nearly Ginger Association, is an Australian group who want to own the word Ranga. Its about holding it up in the light of positive endorsement, says ginger-haired founder Joel Cohen in a Ted X talk. Its about taking the power back. This is bizarre stuff. Its the same way GLAAD talk about the word queer, or the way the NAACP talk about that word white folks arent allowed to say.
It should go without saying, but red-headed people have not historically faced the same systematic difficulties as people who are black and/or gay. Nobody has ever been locked out of the job market, or suffered an unjust legal system, or been specifically targeted by the police, solely on the basis of having red hair.
Ours is not a comparable struggle. Sure, the disproportionately ginger Irish have had a hard lot, but that wasnt the reason they were persecuted by the extremely ginger Queen Elizabeth I.
Some red heads are so desperate to make themselves into victims that they invent non-existent problems. British photographer Thomas Knights has released two Red Hot collections of photographs in an attempt to prove that red-headed men can be sexy. Is this really a point anybody needs to prove? Prince Harry (ginger) is routinely voted the sexiest royal. Despite a receding hairline, crap tattoos and naff songs, Ed Sheeran (carrot top) is worshipped by legions of lustful fans.
Nobody feels sorry for this read headed hunk-a-spunk. Picture: Paul Ellis / Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
In the last few years, oodles of ginger pride events have sprung up all over the world. In Australia, over a thousand red-headed Australians recently turned up to the second annual Ginger Pride Rally.
Holding up signs that read NOBODY PUTS GINGER IN THE CORNER and GINGERS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN, the pale-faced protesters took to the shady streets of Melbourne in solidarity. The event is sponsored and organised by Buderim Ginger, whove found a clever way to advertise their product, and capitalise on the grievance industry.
Going on and on about your hair colour isnt just dull, its counter-productive. Bullies want a reaction, and the gingers are giving it to them.
Moreover, the notion of Ginger Pride is ridiculous. It makes just as little sense to base your identity on hair or skin colour as it does to attack somebody else for theirs. Nobody should be proud to have red hair, any more than theyre proud to be left-handed, or have a partiality to the colour blue. A predisposition to freckles and skin cancer is nothing to be proud of.
That said, I will note that some of the greatest warriors throughout history have had crimson hair: Achilles was like fire, King David was ruddy, and the Norse God Thor, prior to his bastardisation in Marvel Comics, was portrayed as a bearded ginger.
The greatest British war time leaders have all had red hair: Richard the Lionheart, Oliver Cromwell, Boudicca and a young Winston Churchill too. Perhaps my fellow gingers should learn from their genetic predecessors and harden up.
James McCann is a writer and comedian. Find him at jamesdonaldforbesmccann.com or follow him on Twitter @jdfmccann.
Melbournes CBD was flooded by the flame-haired on Saturday, April 29, as hundreds took part in the second annual Ginger Pride Rally. The anti-bullying event drew 1000 people, according to the ABC, including the charity group Alannah and Madeline Foundation, which raises money to protect children from violence. It was the second time the event was held, with organisers providing free ginger beer, ginger speed dating and games of Ginger Beer Pong. Credit: Facebook/Alannah & Madeline Foundation via Storyful
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Opinion: Red heads need to harden up – NEWS.com.au (blog)