Stereotypes


In today’s world we all know stereotyping is wrong and often met with hostility.  I – as a blonde, Roman Catholic, woman, German ancestry, old, a farmer’s daughter, from Saskatchewan  – have met with being stereotyped my whole life.

In my pursuit of examining this phenomena I was surprised to see – some stereotyping is actually promoted and mostly accepted in today’s society.  It is only some types that are wrong and unacceptable.

I watch many shows, which mostly involve stereotyping.  For example there is nothing wrong making a German into the ‘bad guy’.  And they aren’t even Hitler.  They are however, very rigid and cruel in their demeanor. They are mostly intelligent (and they aren’t even Einstein), conniving and intent on ruling others.

Then there are those awful priests (pedophiles/politically  controlling, out to make money for themselves and not the poor people they pretend to help.)  Followed by a stereotyped blonde who is often selfish, dumb and just downright greedy (and someone who will do anything for money).  Then there are the abused, suppressed women, mostly shown as white with a mean abusive husband.  It’s somewhat like watching Tom Hanks Philadelphia – where all the people with aids were white – why? – politically correct on steroids? Then I see the mistrusting, stubborn, hick farmer. He really needs to be educated and join the real world of the academic. (Burt Reynolds – Smokey and the Banditit depends on where you are whether you’re considered smart or not...)   Just like the elderly who are always computer illiterate and really don’t have a clue or understand what the modern world is all about.  So silly of me.  Of course you have advanced so far – you are of course superior. Society is so much better now with your opinions.  Lately I have seen this pushed further – especially in commercials – where the young parents are pathetically ignorant – while the kids are so smart.  Whatever happened to the wisdom of the elderly?  Can you really know everything as a child?

I watched the movie  – The Help.  I really enjoyed this show and hope people can see how far we have advanced in North America from that period of history.  I was happy to see there were even a few ‘good’ white guys.  But then I analysed in-depth – and I wondered – are all ‘plantation belle’ types really so cruel and horrible.  Do all rich people hire nannies and expect those nannies to raise their children.  Again – stereotypes.

I often watch shows or hear about the drunken Irish; the frugal Scottish; the stiff-upper lip Brit; the playboy Frenchman; the mean Russian; the dumb redneck and the list goes on. Unfortunately I also noticed it is still acceptable to many – and used often in movies as well.  But I also noticed it is merely acceptable when a person is Caucasian. So there you go – another stereotype – whites are mean and want to deny/suppress everyone else?

Well, as those people – who are not farmer’s daughters like me – in their wisdom try to correct every word we speak (although we have freedom of speech in our constitutions) – they are making matters worse.  I think it’s time to remember that little nursery rhyme I was taught as a child – and stop making a mountain out of a molehill.  I think it’s time to instill laughter and humor back into our societies.  There was a time when a person could laugh with others and not be afraid to speak for fear of offending someone. There was really a time we could joke and make sarcastic remarks.  I know – because I lived in those times.

Amazing Grace

Sticks and stones may break my bones,

But names can never hurt me…. 

This little rhyme has helped me since I was young and I enjoy a wonderful, free life and I appreciate and thank God every day I can.  I really don’t care what people want to call me.  I just consider the source.  Those that swear or insult are those not proficient enough in the English language to communicate properly.

My little granddaughter throws the most horrific temper-tantrums.  Instead of trying to ‘calm’ her I laugh.  First she looks stunned – then she too starts laughing.  So the temper-tantrum is done and she is happy.

“Always see the humor – even in bad situations” 

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5 thoughts on “Stereotypes

  1. Hi Mary, I am not sure if it is sterotyping in all cases but I do know that choosing characters`actions based on the actions of the archetypical of races is really a way of differentiating people and their habits whether it be speech, hand movements or drinking habits. Viva la difference! and here in Quebec we tend to say `et fukka la balance` 😉

  2. I think people understand the world around them and their relationship to that world by using stories. Stories they learn as children and stories they write for themselves as life progresses. It’s difficult to even realize one holds a stereotype about a certain colour, race, sex, whatever until something bangs up against the stories in our heads and doesn’t quite fit. I agree with you about dramas on TV, movies, etc. because those are stories being told to their audiences. As a writer, I believe in the power of stories to change the world. You just have to get enough people to read them and believe them.

    • So true Maggie. As a writer it’s best to hope people will believe and read your stories. I really try to avoid stereotyping.
      Yes, stereotyping confuses me – especially when you know someone (like a blonde) who is very smart – then you watch a Vonage commercial and see one go swim with sharks calling them dolphins and you say – oh, it’s still here. I of course got so many blonde jokes when I was younger I was contemplating suing to make my money. (just joking). 🙂

  3. The one that annoys me in American films is how all the villains (be they Nazis or aliens from outer space) all have English accents. On British (read English) TV, if there’s a Scot on the show, they’re usually the villain. Or drunk. Or stupid. Drives me crazy. But isn’t it exciting that we, as writers, have the power to change those stereotypes?

    • Yes I agree Diana. And I wondered about the villain thing too. I keep thinking would they actually speak German with an accent. It’s actually funny. My husband hates watching shows with me as all I do is critique them. I guess so long as people realize they are fiction it would be harmless – but some people think it’s true. I hear it in conversations. And yes, I would love to have an impact on changing some stereotypes – I think I’ll start with a blonde who’s brilliant. Haha.

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