Musician Ed Sheeran says that a 2005 episode of South Park "ruined" his life. In an interview with Slam Radio (via ET Canada), Sheeran said that the episode's mockery of those with red hair—"gingers"—led to it becoming common to make fun of redheads in the United States, something that had previously been something more common in the U.K. Sheeran said that prior to the episode, Americans "never knew what a ginger was".
"Having red hair in England was always a thing that people took the p-ss out of you for," Sheeran said. "But it was never something in America. People never knew what a ginger was in America."
He continued, "That episode of South Park f-cking ruined my life."
The episode in question was 2005's Season 9 episode "Ginger Kids" which sees Cartman rail against redheads with pale skin and freckles in a class presentation, claiming that they have a disease called "Gingervitis" and that they have no souls. Things spiral out of control and prompts actual prejudice against so-called Gingers which, in turn, prompts Stan and Kyle to turn Cartman into one while he sleeps. That also spirals out of control when Cartman begins to rally the Gingers and create a "Ginger Separatist Movement" which then leads to Ginger kids kidnapping and preparing to sacrifice non-gingers.
Sheeran said that when he first came to the United States, everyone loved his red hair, at least until that episode came out.
"I was going to America, and everyone was like, 'I love your hair dude.' And I was like 'Oh my god, people like my hair?'" he said. "And then I remember that episode coming out and that was just it worldwide for the rest of my life."
It's interesting that Sheeran is so upset with the episode and its impact on redheads, but he's certainly not the only person to take issue with the episode. In 2008, a Facebook event allegedly inspired by the episode prompted "National Kick a Ginger Day". The event was investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a hate crime. In 2015, Massachusetts police also investigated plans by a group of students to attack a red-haired student on the same date. However, discrimination against individuals with red hair is something that potentially dates back thousands of years.
South Park season 24 is in development. The latest South Park project, South Park: Post COVID: The Return of COVID is now streaming on Paramount+.
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