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May 31, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]


It’s a pity I’m writing this before the event itself. Now I have to write about it before it’s happened, as if it’s happened, because you’re reading this after it’s happened and it’s all just so confusing. So confusing in fact, I’ve confused myself.

Friday was ‘Hug a Ginga Day’. For those of you who are a bit out of touch when it comes to commercial radio, or you don’t watch Close Up, Hug a Ginga day is a promotion run by The Edge radio station. If this is the first you’ve heard about it, you have clearly been in hibernation during all this nasty weather. I don’t blame you, I’d rather be hiding out in bed all day, too.

My attention was first drawn to this offensive/hilarious promotional stunt—depending on which side of the taste fence you sit—when a couple of my friends RSVP-ed to an event on Facebook. Another couple of friends ‘liked’ a page, which now appears to have disappeared, exclaiming about an interview with the father of two red-headed boys on one of New Zealand’s leading current affairs shows. Intrigued, I undertook some more investigations.

I watched the now-infamous interviews on Close Up. I read some of comments on the TVNZ website. I sat at my desk and mulled over it. And I just can’t work out where I sit in this debate that seems to have polarised that nation, or at least Close Up viewers. To briefly summarise the arguments of both sides: the dad was concerned that Hug a Ginga Day would make his kids even more of a target for bullying. Dom from The Edge Morning Madhouse said it was a fun event, all about showing gingas some love and respect. It’s a hug, not a punch in the face or a kick in the teeth. Or something.

I’m a red head. And to be honest, there is a part of me that really objects to this whole ‘Hug a Ginga Day’ thing. I hate the term ‘ginga’. Why? It’s been said to me countless times with not exactly the nicest of intentions. There have been occassions where I’ve been walking along the street, a car has driven past and one of the occupants has yelled ‘ginga’ at me. Woah, never heard that one before, buddy. If he followed up his initial, clearly derogatory statement with “would you like a hug?”, I’d probably refuse. The term ginga, for me, has a whole bunch of negative connotations, and I wouldn’t immediately associate the term with love or respect for red heads.
Also, I know what it’s like to be the red headed kid at school. 11-year-old me would have dreaded going to school last Friday. I imagine that the usual taunts would only be intensified on such a day. Why not just go ahead and put a bunch of flashing lights around each red-headed kid at every single New Zealand school, just to draw a little more attention to them? Dom can plead all he likes that Hug a Ginga Day is about celebrating red heads—for many red heads, it’s pretty fucking tough to celebrate something that has caused you to be singled out from the rest of your peer group, and be subjected to various taunts and bullying.

But I don’t find the concept wholly offensive. This may come as a surprise to some, but I’ve got a sense of humour. I can see the fun in Hug a Ginga Day. It’s nice to be celebrating difference. It’s nice to be celebrating red heads. I hope future me ventured out on Friday and got hugged lots. I like hugs. Maybe I’ll find my one true love. Maybe I won’t. Maybe the guy who yelled at me from his car will walk up to me on the street and ask for a hug. Sadly, he ain’t getting one. The rest of you can. But just remember, gingas deserve respect 365 days a year. Not just on the day The Edge says so.


About the Author ()

Editor for 2010, politics nerd, panda fan and three-time award-winning student journalist.

Comments (2)

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  1. Paul Comrie-Thomson says:

    Fair points. I’m of the opinion that the father in question actually made it far worse for his two kids and other ‘gingas’ in general by publicising the whole gag though. Had he sent made an official complaint to the radio station, rather than going to the media, he might have been ore successful in either getting the whole promotion cancelled, or at the very least, toned down.

  2. Laura says:

    I love you Sarah, even though you have gingivitis

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