The British redheads have been offered free entry to the cinema in the event of a national heat-related emergency


LONDON – As temperatures reach dangerous highs across Britain this week, a chain of cinemas provides shelter from the sun for a potentially vulnerable group: redheads.

“Free tickets to redheads on the hottest days ever,” read an Instagram post from Showcase Cinemas earlier this week. It has prompted many Britons to tag their flaming-haired friends and family members in the comments section so they don’t miss out on the offer to cool off in an air-conditioned venue amid the national emergency.

The offer, for redheads only, will run Monday through Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Research has shown that people with pale skin, freckles and red hair are at greater risk of developing skin cancer due to their genes – although heat of this magnitude is dangerous for everyone . Hundreds of people have died in recent days as a punishing heat wave sweeps across Britain, France, Spain and Portugal.

Unlike the US, many places and homes in the UK do not have air conditioning. Most cinemas, however, do.

“Since redheads are often more vulnerable to sunlight than most, we protect them from the sun inside our fully air-conditioned movie screens,” Showcase said in a statement. The company told the Washington Post that it can’t wait to see “how many redheads take this opportunity.”

For the first time on record, red ‘extreme’ heat warnings are in place in London and parts of Britain – a country where infrastructure is not built for intense heat waves. The heat wave also sparked forest fires in Europe.

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Experts say the extreme weather is another reminder of man-made climate change, with some warnings that future summers will only get worse if the world doesn’t work to tackle the crisis.

On social media, many hailed the idea of ​​the cinema as a positive way to help during a heat and cost-of-living crisis, although some called the initiative “offensive” to the redhead community. , claiming that she was unfairly singling out this group.

Lucy McCollum, a 29-year-old from Sheffield who describes herself as ‘happily red-haired’ and has a baby boy who also has red hair, said the offer would not only help those battling the heat but also those who struggle financially.

Annual inflation in Britain hit a 40-year high of 9% earlier this year, sending food and energy prices skyrocketing – following Brexit, tax hikes and the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the cost of living crisis, you have to take what you can get on the entertainment front,” McCollum said.

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In Britain, a trip to the cinema is usually expensive, especially if one wants cinema snacks and a recliner. General admission tickets for adults cost around 12 pounds ($14), although the price may vary depending on the type of film and the level of comfort selected. Some tickets sell for up to 23 pounds per person ($27).

Although the offer was tempting, McCollum said she could not attend due to work commitments as a teacher.

Others didn’t seem to appreciate the attention: Some social media posts noted that redheads can often be bullied at school for their rarer hair coloring – and the offer can ostracize more community.

Sarah Jackson – a 27-year-old who goes by the name ‘Gingercurls’ on Instagram and was bullied as a child for what she called her ‘frizzy red hair’ – said she thinks the The cinema’s offer was ‘hilarious’ and that she would have let the organizers know if a movie theater was closer to her house.

“I constantly joke that as a redhead I can’t stand the summer because of the heat, so when I saw the Showcase was giving away free tickets for redheads during the current heat wave, I immediately shared it with my friends and my boyfriend,” Jackson said. . She has amassed thousands of followers online, including posting about techniques that help people manage curly hair and products for people with pale skin and warmer hair.

The offer also forced some who were once redheads but were now losing their hair to wonder if they were eligible for a free ticket. “Does a red beard count?” wrote one person. Others debated the rigor of the movie theater – or whether they would take a “strawberry blonde”.

Luke Young, 31, from Peterborough, a town in the east of England, was one of those reflecting on his redhead roots.

Young told The Washington Post that he doesn’t identify as a complete redhead – instead describing himself as “light-skinned” with a beard the color of a “Moroccan sunset”.

The idea is “good marketing,” Young said. “A free ticket is a free ticket.”

Christy J. Olson