Stereotypes

  • What is a stereotype? A stereotype is a widely held but fixed and over simplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. We develop stereotypes when we are unable or not willing to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgments about specific people or occurrences. In the absence of the “total picture,” stereotypes, in many cases, allow us to “fill in the gaps.” Our society often innocently creates and projects stereotypes, but these stereotypes often lead to unfair discrimination and prejudices when the stereotype is unfavourable.

     

    An archaic example of Prejudices would date back to the Holocaust. The time in the Auschwitz concentration camps, where Jews were ruthlessly persecuted in the thousands by the Nazi authorities which later grew on as a perpetuating hatred between Nazi Germany and Jews and a discrimination that still holds strong.

     

    Stereotypes are still portrayed very heavily in regards to all types of media that we are bombarded with it all the time. In this writing I will explore the tropes/stereotypes portrayed by mass media.

     

    A very large stereotype that is still carried out by the media is that the people who live in poverty are either alcoholics, addicted to drugs, gambling, are lazy, or got themselves into the situation and therefore should not receive welfare from the government. This is ignorant to the capitalistic economy we live in and does not take into account a system that feeds off of labour done by the poor which subsequently keeps them in poverty in order to capitalize whilst exploiting their desperation to live. This also ignores the fact many people are pushed into poverty by alienation by their own families or because of bankruptcy in a company they use to work in. Lastly it ignores the fact that education has been made obligatory on anyone trying to get a job and get they have made it impossible to actually aquire said education as the prices for universities are always being raised. This especially affects to poor as a lot of the times they come from an uneducated background due to unfortunate circumstances and it keeps future generations in poverty in cycle because even if they decide to seek education and therefore jobs that may pay an actual living wage they won't be able to because of the capitalistic nature of economies around the world.

     

    Another stereotype that is widely used in media especially in Hollywood is the white saviour trope. More specifically, “The white man saves such and such group”. Looking into a wide variety of movies released by Hollywood you will always see a perhaps “oppressed” or minority group that is in some sort of trouble and low and behold a white man comes to save them from whatever dilemma they may be in thus favouring whiteness and showing white people as saviors to others when it has never been such in reality. Namely, the live action movie Tarzan in which slavery is forced upon black people and Tarzan a white man comes to save them all from their affliction. It is truly an ironic situation seeing as though in reality black people freed themselves from slavery and white men were the ones who enslaved them. This is an obvious ploy to try and change the narrative even if very slight to show white men again as good, kind, and heroic. By doing this they also show black people in general as helpless and weak.

     

    Although in the previous example black people were portrayed as weak, the black community at large is almost always portrayed as either violent, or related to some sort of misconduct/misbehavior. They are often shown as “thugs” or “gangsters” not only in movies and shows but also in news outlets. Because of this portrayal of black people being quote on quote “violent”, and “troublesome” they have been demonized to a level in which they are often victims of police brutality and undeserved death sentence either at gun point or after court hearings as they are perceived in the way that they have been portrayed by media. They are very rarely given the benefit of doubt and are always given harsher treatment as compared to their white counterparts.

     

    In regards to how women are stereotyped in media there is a whole plothora of different ignorant stances. The first being that women are inheirently obligated to be subservient to their husbands and stay at home. This stereotype has died down quite alot around the world however in South Asian media it is still a very heavily played out stereotype. In opposition to this stereotype, the trope that women who are independent/out spoken are shown to be evil, clever, and devious. This furthers the agenda of women staying subservient to their oppressors.

     

     

    Racially Arabs are portrayed as terrorists because being of Arab descent clearly equates to being Muslim and therefore a danger to ones liberation, safety, and wellbeing. This is not only done in Hollywood but also in news outlets which dehumanize, and demonize Muslims as being violent, and constantly only showing them the miniscule percent of extremists that exist in the Muslim community as they do in every religion. As for Muslim women we are always shown as being oppressed in some way or another and having little to no rights of our own. While that may be to for some cases as many Muslim girls are oppressed by families and are given no rights that they are entitled to it does not go for every female in Islamic societies. While this is often the case for Arabs, Mexicans are often shown as being drug Lords or working labour intensive jobs such as gardeners or construction workers. This portrayal shows them as less than they are in reality and confines them to being only represented as such. If we look at the wider latinax community we are always shown hyper sexualized girls who are labeled as “exotic”. This demeans them from all the different talents, skills, personality and diversity they have in the world to just being a shell of a human that has almost just become a sexual icon in the media.

     

    Disabled people in media are often portrayed to be “helpless” and if they are shown otherwise it is almost always just to be a show piece of “inspiration”. The media almost always shows them in a way in which people watching would compare their own lives to their and get this sense of “gratefulness" or see them prospering despite the challenges they may face in day to day life and feel “inspired”. This type of display that the media puts on makes disabled humans seem less like humans, and more like trophies to show off to the world.

     

    As the word stereotypes implies these are very loose generalizations of groups of people that can often be derogatory, demeaning or ill-informed. They in no way, shape, or form represent a group of people and yet they are still used to make jokes or in plain seriousness to reference a group of people.

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