Olivia Mabie UNST245
Analysis: The Life of a Red Head
The setting is downtown Portland around Chinatown. As I’m walking down the street, I get approached by a homeless man. He’s staring at me with a curious face, not saying anything for a few seconds. He then asks me, “Does the carpet match the drapes?” I look at him with confusion and then realize that he is talking about my red hair. I immediately walk away without saying anything. He yells after me in a joking tone, “I was just asking if your hair was natural!” I then yelled back, “You didn’t need to ask like that!” I literally could not believe that some random guy asked me a really domineering question. Being a red head in today’s society bring a lot of jokes, stereotypes, and accusations with it. Whether it be a “soulless Ginger”, “Carrot top”, or “Daywalker”. The most common joke I hear about being a red head is “Gingers have no souls”. Where do these statements and questions even come from? Why do people associate red headed people with being soulless along with many other stereotypes? Maybe it’s because red hair is the rarest form of hair color on earth. Only 2% of the world’s population have red hair. That’s a pretty small percentage for how many people there are in the world. Red heads are associated in the media as “The Geek”, “The Sexy One”, “The Villain” and even “Soulless Beings”. All of these stereotypes stick in our society and get used against people who have no control over their physical traits.
One stereotype that is portrayed in the media is redheads being classified as the geeks in films or TV sitcoms. A classic example is the Sherminator in American Pie. A guy with vibrant orange hair, freckles head to foot, and braces. This guy was classified as the geek who wanted to fit in with the cool crowd but just could not blend in. He would show up to house parties and have a persona of being suave and cool. However, everyone in the movie knew that he was the ginger, nerdy kid who tried too hard. Another example of a nerdy redhead is Michelle from American Pie as well. The famous quote that she repeats through the movie, “This one time, at band camp…” proves that Michelle was portrayed as a geeky girl who happened to turn out to be cool. However, she was portrayed crazy in the bedroom. This is another stereotype that gets brought up about redheads.
“The Sexy One” is a stereotype that brings up not only a lot of assumptions, but a lot of stereotypical questions. It’s interesting that redheads get categorized as these crazy people who are crazy in bed and freaks in the bedroom, all just by having red as a hair color. The media promotes this stereotype in many ways, whether it be Michelle from American Pie, to the cartoon character Jessica Rabbit from who Framed Roger Rabbit? Producers cast attractive, outgoing, and witty redheads to play characters that are promiscuous, mysterious, and can have an attitude to them. All these chracteristics come with being a redhead in today’s society. Simply because of the creation of these stereotypes in the media. A good example showing this stereotype in the media is Jessica Rabbit from the Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A redheaded, and seductive bombshell that Roger Rabbit as well as other characters cannot get enough of. In one scene, Jessica Rabbit is seducing the detective in the movie, trying to persuade him to find her husband. The detective is uneasy about it, claiming she has gotten around. She replies back saying, “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” This single quote and her seducing the detective shows that media is portraying red heads to be masters of seducing and easy on the eyes. I think the quoted line is a perfect example of the redhead stereotype. Being as not all redheads are the way they’re portrayed, it’s just what society sees them as. Wearing a sequined red, heart shaped dress which starts low on her back and shows plenty of cleavage for a cartoon. Her vibrant red hair is to one side, only showing half of her face, bringing mystery to her appearance. Another great example is another character that goes by the name of Jessica on the hit HBO sitcom True Blood. She’s a sheltered, religious teenager who gets turned into a vampire unwillingly. Jessica is a tall, pale, green-eyed, and has long thick red-orange hair. She tries to find herself and later rebels against her “maker”. In one episode she ends up making out and sucking on some guy’s neck in a vampire bar. None of the other vampires have scenes like this in the sitcom. Sure you see them have sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends, but Jessica was portrayed as a rebellious girl who hooks up with random strangers in bathroom stalls. It’s also interesting to me that a lot of the “sexy” characters in TV shows and movies are named Jessica (Maybe Jessica is a good red head name). This brings me to some accusations of red heads in the real world after these stereotypes are showed in the media. According to the website BuzzFeed.com, an article titled, The 18 Most Offensive Things People Say to Redheads written by Erin La Rosa, some of the most offensive questions or accusations one could say to a redhead are related to this “sexy one” portrayal. Rosa explains why a statement is offensive and how people should rephrase their comments when they’re talking to red heads. “10. You must be crazy in bed. Why it’s offensive: Yeah, we saw American Pie too, and we remember how “crazy” Alyson Hannigan’s character was. How to rephrase: “I’d never be foolish enough to believe stereotypes. I’d only be a fool if I didn’t tell you how hot you look with red hair” (Rosa). Another great insight on this subject comes from the YouTube channel Buzzfeed. A YouTube channel that posts comedic skits and short videos. The short video is titled, Why You Shouldn’t Mess With Redheads. It’s a two minute video of redheads sticking up for the hair color and making fun of some stereotypes that are in the media. For example, a long haired red head is sitting on some stairs outside a building. Discussing how it’s true that redheads are great in bed. She states, “You heard we’re crazy in bed. Well that’s absolutely true. By crazy you mean the best f*cking thing you’ve ever had” (BuzzFeed). This vulgar comment definitely embraced the stereotype and made it entertaining to watch. The short video goes on with multiple red heads swearing and being defensive. I found it interesting that the red heads were showing that they are portrayed as people who use foul language as well. This is a charactistic that I have experienced because, I too sometimes have a sailor mouth. This brings me to another stereotype that red heads deal with.
“The Villain” is a stereotype that is strongly played out in the media world that portrays red heads as evil and problematic. Red heads get portrayed as people who have fiery-tempers and have no patience. This stereotype I think is probably the most relatable for me. When I was younger, I had temper tantrums from time to time and I was always called the “Red headed stepchild” from my family. This term is still used to describe red heads that have short tempers. I find the stereotype of redheads having “fiery” tempers interesting because it’s funny that hair color can affect a person’s perception on how another acts. Anne of Greene Gables, a fellow red head once said, “You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair” (GingerParrot). This stereotype is interesting because I find myself to have a fiery temper at times. It’s like a whole different emotion compared to being mad or frustrated. The fieriness seems to be apparent in redheads more than other hair colors.
The last stereotype that is probably the most used is redheads being “soulless”. Red heads are claimed to be soulless, vampires or witches that cannot come out in the sun. Both men and women who had red hair were accused the most during witch trials in this little town I once visited in Germany. An example that shows this is the villain in the movie Hocus Pocus. The leader of the trio witch-pack being a red head that wanted the souls of all the children of Salem, Massachusetts. Some of the most popular statements are, ‘Red heads have no souls’, ‘Are red heads able to go out in the sun?’, and ‘Red heads are related to Satan’ (Rosa). My whole life, as I’ve gradually gotten older, these comments have become more common than others. It makes me feel like these jokes aren’t original when I get asked them, but rather an enforcement of the stereotype. In Rosa’s article, theirs an image of a red head for every offensive term. For example, under the question asking if red heads are related to Satan theirs an image of Michael C. Hall, the red headed actor who plays the serial killer on Dexter on Showtime. The people that are used in the article are portrayed this way to show a point that they are all red heads, and the questions or terms that come with them do not represent them as people. These photos are also altered in the way that these terms do not directly go to the people in the images. BuzzFeed is using images that misrepresent the term or questions it’s trying to portray, but are using general photos to represent a population. All in all, being a red head is something to feel special about. No matter what the media may portray what a red head is supposed to be. However, the media emphasizes these stereotypes in films and shows, constantly making more notations as to how a redhead acts as well as how they look. The media has created this group of people to be fiery, soulless, geeky, and great people in the bedroom. It’s bewildering that mainstream media can create this and have assumptions that red heads are a sort of different species than people with other hair colors. I think the positive light that is being shed in society is that redheads can embrace their stereotype and live with the red hair norm. Some negative light would be how we are portrayed as promiscuous and villainous to other people who don’t have red hair. Out of all the analysis research on this identity that I relate to myself, I find that red heads are represented in a very sassy, passive, and provocative way in media. The redhead stereotype consists of people who can be defensive, have fiery tempers, and are soulless creatures. The article and videos definitely invoke these stereotypes either by flaunting the stereotype or calling it out and rephrasing it in a way it will no longer be a name call. The stereotype of being a red head comes with many pros and cons. The media definitely takes the cons and exposes them to the population, which can give red heads a bad name and a bad association.
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