Tuesday evening, TVLine SCOOPED the world when they announced that CBS’ upcoming Supergirl program “has snapped up Desperate Housewives vet Mehcad Brooks to play the classic role of shutterbug Jimmy Olsen [.]” The internet, in all of it maturity and grace, immediately lit up with the well-reasoned and civilized public discourse we have come to expect (These are actual comments, go see for yourself if you don't believe me):
- Umm, Jimmy Olsen is NOT black!!!
- If CBS was REALLY courageous, they would cast Supergirl as an asian transexual. But NOPE - they're a bunch of haters, which is why we'll likely get a blonde Caucasian chick. Because everyone from Planet Krypton looked like whitey
- you made Perry White Black Ant Man of Steel now you're making Jimmy Olsen black and the SuperGirl show what are y'all smoking DC
- The recemblance is uncanny
- Why don't they just make super girl black or Hispanic or even Asian if they're trying to go the "let's shake things up" route.
- Instead of adding a non-white character they go and "black-face" a white character and say that they are diversifying there cast.
- All these comic book characters seem to be getting this weird skin pigmentation disorder when they come to the big and small screen…
And so it goes
But, what is mostly lost in this dialogue isn’t the “blackwashing” of Jimmy Olson, but the “de-gingerfication” of a character that has been around for 77 years. And it’s not like this is a new phenomenon; of the four actors to play Jimmy Olsen on television (Jack Larson, Michael Landes, Justin Whalin, and Aaron Ashmore) none have been natural gingers. To make matters worse, there wasn’t even a superficial attempt to dye any of the actors’ hair red.
What is it about Jimmy Olsen that makes television excess do all they can to erase his gingerness from the public record? We reached out to Professor Thaddeus T. Puffinbottoms, co-chair of the Ginger Anti-Defamation Committee at the prestigious University of Phoenix to see if he could shed any light on the issue:
Gingers are creepy.
When forced to expand on that thought or the loss of his consulting fee Professor Puffinbottoms had this to say:
Gingers are creepy, it’s a scientific fact. Throughout history those of red-headed characteristics have been shunned and discriminated against based solely on the color of their hair. Poll after poll after poll have gingers leading the “what group of people creep you out the most” category. This result is so mundane at this point that no one even bothers to report on the top spot. All “creepy” polls have a built in “other than gingers” assumption.
And for good reason; gingers are creepy.
We reached out to Supergirl exec-producer Sarah Schechter for her thoughts on Jimmy Olsen’s hair color:
It’s not that we here at CBS are anti-ginger, it’s just that we had a hard time believing that the general public would be able to suspend their disbelief enough to accept a ginger who was “smart” and “worldly.”
When we pointed out that comic book readers have been “buying” Jimmy Olsen as a ginger for over 75 years Schechter stated that “Yea, but that Olsen is a dorky putz whose sole reason for existence was to get captured by super-villains and make fanboys feel better about themselves.” She continued, “Furthermore, there are, what, maybe 5,000 comic book readers left? We’re aiming for a slightly larger audience.”
Look, I’m not unsympathetic, if we were making a Spider-Man program I’d cast a ginger as Carnage (Cletus Kasady) in a heartbeat. A psychotic ginger killing everyone, that’s believable, but as a primary supporting character that, in theory, may eventually have a girlfriend…our focus groups did not approve.
“Also,” she added, “gingers are creepy.”
Noted ginger and Academy Award winning director Ron Howard had this to say:
Why do you think I always wear a hat? Gingers are creepy
As of press time the internet was still bickering over whether or not Olsen’s race would have an effect him being turned into Giant Turtle Boy, any possible adaptation of the “Elastic Lad” story line, or if they’d be allowed to “get away with” switching his mind with that of a gorilla.
I now leave you with this educational video in hopes we can all come to a better understaning of gingers and thier plight: