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A Red-Headed Rant

I’m gutted.

EW.com released this image from the upcoming Mortal Instruments movie. I loved Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. One day I’ll write a blog post about why and just how much I love this series.

This is not that post.
This is a post about Clary Fray. As girl with long curly ginger hair I loved Clary Fray. She’s kick-ass. Thrown into an impossible situation, she adapts over the course of the series and becomes a brilliant heroine. I’ve got some issues with the series which again are for another blog post, but overall, she’s a fantastic role model for girls, especially girls with ginger hair.
The covers of the book all clearly show Clary as she’s described in the books: feisty, little and ginger-haired.

So when this image was released I wanted to cry a little. 

 


This girl doesn’t look like Clary. She looks like Bella Swan with a bad rinse job. (Seriously, check out her black eyebrows!) Or even a less fierce Katniss minus the side braid.  Or Hermoine in the final Harry Potter films. What worries me about this is that the film has taken a very different-looking character and tried to shoehorn her into a ‘successful YA look’. Rather than focus on why these books have sold millions of copies it appears (and I so hope I’m wrong) that the film company is trying to create a mold for a successful YA female protagonist. This bothers me on so many levels, but the deepest is that it begs the question: can all girls just be boiled down into one universal image, and if we can figure that out, can we just drop said girl into different movies and make millions?
No. At least I really hope the answer is no.
For me this casting is pretty much the same as making all the Weasley family a bunch of blonds. It doesn’t make any sense. Yes, hair shouldn’t define a person, or be the only thing about a character that’s remarkable, but sometimes it’s important. Could you picture the Weasley family as a bunch of blonds? Go on, I dare you. Or Draco Malfloy without his white-blond hair? What about Harry sans his famous scar?
Tricky, right?
In my head, Clary will always be a cross between Merida from Brave and this girl on the cover.

I won’t write the film off based on this image, but I’m sad to see that the casting directors have gone down this route. Growing up in the (ahem) 80s and 90s there was a lack of role models for ginger girls (except of course for Annie and Anne of Green Gables—strange how their names are nearly identical. Is it possible to be a red headed YA heroine not named Anne? Of course, but you get the idea here.). I guess I expected more from Hollywood. My first mistake, perhaps.

Don’t even get me started on how few role models Hollywood gives children of colour (pretty much none). It’s far too depressing. But this is a topic that deserves its own blog post. I’ll get there. Because it’s too important not to get there.