Australian redheads are a touchy lot, said Michelle Griffin. In the past year, “my copper-tressed brothers and sisters” have been complaining about a perceived uptick in the number of redhead jokes. When Aussie comedienne Jean Kittson called her redheaded daughter a “ranga”—short for “orangutan”—on national television, the show was deluged with angry phone calls.
But what sparked the most outrage was a new road safety ad by the state of Victoria, in which the narrator warns darkly that if you use your mobile phone while driving, redheads will procreate; the ad then cuts to a shot of two unattractive gingers in bed. Victoria was denounced as prejudiced, even racist, for the slur.
“Oh, please. I, too, grew up red-haired and freckled in a land that revered the tanned.” I know it’s annoying to be teased. But we “don’t catch half the grief of the overweight, the disabled, the poor, or the foreign.” And since we gingers aren’t actually discriminated against, the way blacks or Asians sometimes are, we really can’t complain. In fact, getting all worked up simply bolsters the stereotype that redheads have “fiery tempers” to match our fiery hair. Then again, maybe we do.