Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stereotypes

Stereotypes aren't all bad. No, really, hear me out. What I mean is that stereotypes are actually archetypes: a kind of mental shorthand for identifying characters and their purposes. And they've been around ever since some clever Ancient Greek said, "You know, rather than me telling you what happened, why don't I show you? Pretend I'm Alcibiades and this tree is Clytemnestra." 

That was a helluva day in Athens, I'm telling you.

Where stereotypes become dangerous is when they package a value judgement with gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality. It's when a stereotype prevents you from seeing the individual. And those are the stereotypes that need to be challenged, and guess whose job that is? 

Yep, it's ours.   

And isn't that great news? 

Your mission for the week: find a stereotype. Invert the hell out of it. 

13 comments:

  1. Ha! "You know how he is after a few novels." Gotta love Monty Python.

    And I like what you said about not attaching a judgement to a stereotype. I think stereotypes can work as shorthand for minor characters with short walk ons, but it really ought to be our job not to reinforce derogatory images with those characters. Thanks for the reminder.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely agree about walk-on characters. Not every character needs to be three dimensional, otherwise a novel would never end, but there has to be a difference between using stereotypes as shorthand and using them to reinforce negatives.

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  2. This is the first time I'd seen that Python sketch. Priceless!

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  3. That is an absolutely brilliant illustration of what you're talking about :-)

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  4. What Botanist and Sarah said!

    Plus, I'm rather fond of dirt, myself.

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    1. So you've finally realised there's more to life than culture. There's dirt and smoke and good honest sweat!

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  5. I do love inverting stereotypes, but I agree that sometimes they can be useful!

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    Replies
    1. It is so much fun turning a stereotype on its head! :)

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  6. A very big welcome to you Jen, from the open hearth! So honoured that you chose to join us there :) I hope you find something to keep you interested.

    Can't beat a good bit o' Python. Good choice.

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