(Canada, 66 min.)
Dir. Shawn Hitchins, Mitch Fillion
“Even polar bears get more respect than I do,” quips comedian Shawn Hitchins in Ginger Nation. “It’s because they’re white.”
Hitchins, the stand-up comedian behind the one-man show of Ginger Nation, voluntarily self-identifies as a minority. Yes, this tall white male belongs to an ostracised group: red heads. Gingers account for only 1% percent of the world’s population, and when one factors in the variable that Hitchins is openly gay, he speaks from a subset of a very small cultural group.
Ginger Nation owns Hitchins’ self-ascribed minority status in an irreverently funny critique of political correctness. The comic lands zingers about the challenges of being the butt of many jokes and feeling undesirable due to his tongue-in-cheek sense of cultural oppression. The bulk of the routine focuses on episode in which Hitchins’ acted as a sperm donor for a lesbian couple and the red-headed comic energetically jests that redheads do it best if he, a double loser in theories of natural selection, can knock up a lesbian with virile marksmanship.
The film is bound to leave some viewers feeling uneasy, and rightfully so, as the comic lands major laughs from the audience by calling himself a minority. The humour within Hitchins’ routine is especially provocative as the film premieres at Inside following the Appropriation Prize controversy. However, Ginger Nation also outlines Hitchins’ experience growing as an awkward misfit who doesn’t fit in on multiple levels. The brazen humour of Hitchins’ show invites a provocative question: in this age of political correctness and sensitivity, why is someone’s minority status a joke? The film is often laugh out loud funny as it critiques political correctness while contributing a productive first-person account of owning one’s identity and expressing it through a unique, authoritative voice.
Ginger Nation screens at Toronto’s Inside Out LGBT Film Festival on May 28.