How We Stereotype Others

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Luc Brubaker
Essay #11
November, 2014
Humans, in our ancestry have required stereotyping to survive. “Animals are hardwired to ensure that their group survives and reproduces” and humans are no exception (Stossel, 2007). A quick judgment on who the person is and whether they pose any danger may mean the difference between life and death. While many of these useful life or death stereotypes have been transferred into everyday subliminal judgment, they still remain a relevant part in our life. Also, while stereotypes may contain certain truths it does not discount others. Saying that “black people tend to be good dancers, does not mean that black people cannot be lawyers” which is a type of distinction that people often fail to make (Stossel, 2007). Many people tend to lump all stereotypes together and categorize them as detrimental, even those that may contain a positive outlook.

Stereotypes, contrary to popular belief can actually have a functional and helpful place in our society, particularly in the media world. If every character in every story had to be introduced and given a detailed background, movies would last for 10 hours and there would be no such thing as a major character for lack of minor characters. Time and space is not only saved in the movie but also in one’s brain, allowing an “efficient means of simplifying social interaction and preserving valuable processing resources”(Macrae, 1994, P.45). Rather than having to proceed in an in depth analysis of each person, stereotyping allow us to skim the population to obtain a general census, and determine if anyone is alarming or in the case of media a sense for who the character is. Comedy in films is also based off of supporting stereotypes such as the notion that “all Asians look alike” as is mocked in the movie Rush Hour 2 (Park, 2006, P.171). Stereotypes allow the audience to make a series of judgments about a character based on their perception. Rather than an explicated narrative of the...
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