On Fiery Redheads

This article from Slate about the perpetuation of the sassy, fiery, stubborn, hot-tempered redheaded stereotype is an interesting read. The author asserts that she’s not one of them and doesn’t get it; I believe and respect that. I am probably closer to the stereotype and feel proud to be a redhead; for some reason though, the jokes and archetype are mostly fine by me.

Is it a bit eye-rolling that lady villains or sex vixens are more often than not redheads? YES. Am I probably just happy that redheads at least have alleged traits of sharpness and power instead of supposedly being frivolous? YES. Do I strongly dislike being prejudged and told I remind people of someone (always another redhead with glasses they know)? YES.

BUT: It’s fine, because red hair is special and we know it. If we can be the fiery leading ladies in films, fine. Let’s just hope that people can have the sensibility to know that not all redheads are the same and to not assume we’re all a high level of fiery.

AN ANALOGOUS EXAMPLE: Rare is it that a non-attractive (by magazine-cover convention) man plays the leading male role in a film. However, even though we associate all men like George Clooney and Ryan Gosling to be suave, charismatic, above-the-law, good dressers who ‘have a way with the ladies’, not all men with a pretty face are those things. However, good for them that they get to play those roles; we just can’t assume anything about them as people.

A RESULTING QUESTION: What would happen if a brunette or dyed blue-haired lady were to have played Grace on Will & Grace? Or if a stockier, beer bellied guy played Jacob Palmer in Crazy, Stupid, Love.? Would both be less convincing and less easy for a viewer to simply understand? (I think probably.) Would it be less eye catching? (Likely.) And, would we associate different personal traits with the same characters? (Absolutely.) This is part of the art and tragedy of casting, and while I wouldn’t want that job, I understand why stereotypes are played into.


[Editor’s note/question: No visuals directly accompanied this post and only one appeared in the Slate article. Was the imagery you pictured or people you thought of in line with the arguments?]

On Fiery Redheads

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