The Likeness of Being: What is the joke about stereotypes?


Stereotypes…Good or bad??

“Satirical comedy”
“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery”
“I make fun of you because I like you”
“Laughter makes the world go round”
“They know it’s a joke”
“But they are all like that”
“I just assume they are all like that”

Did I miss any of the catch phrases or cliches?

I have been pondering the idea of stereotypes, perceptions created through our upbringing and surroundings and grouping individuals into like groups. The question I have been trying to answer is whether they are good or bad? Obviously there are a number of debatable angles to this argument.

  • Stereotyping saves time given that the probability of being right is typically higher than being wrong.
  • Categorizing people can create a feeling of ill will and thus creating a domino affect of hatred and negativity.
  • By generalizing, it is hard to separate oneself and create a feeling or lifestyle of individuality
  • On the other hand, with categorized stereotypes, when someone does something extraordinary and breaks them, they stand out and become memorable.
  • Not all stereotypes are bad (ex:  Women tend to be more romantic than men).
  • Not all stereotypes are good (ex:  Chinese people are short, Jews are cheap, Blacks are criminals).
  • We are influenced by our surroundings.  Growing up in a liberal city environment vs. a small rural town will provide you with a very different view on life.
  • The media plays a significant role in helping create these stereotypes with the type of news and the slant they provide on it.


Why do we continue to feed into stereotypes with comedy, media, adverting and education?  It is profitable for one.  Yes, profitable.

Advertising is developed by looking at trends, focus groups and probability charts to determine the best way to maximize profits and minimize costs.  If you know a group will behave in a certain way or at least a higher percentage will, you will focus your advertising on that element.  We need to the feed the fire of these stereotypes.

Next, actions dictate beliefs.  If you know a stereotype that is one thing.  If one is acted upon and affects you, then the personal feelings grow so much stronger.  If a rich man cuts you off on the road, the stereotype that they are entitled gets raised to the next level.  If an Indian or Asian gets a technology job over a white male or female, the negative vibes will flow.

How do we stop this?

We can’t.  Soon our generation will pass and a new one will rise.

Do I feel we are more liberal than our parents.  I think to some degree we are, but we live in a different time.  The world is closer than it ever had been before with travel advancements as well as technology growth.

There is a long term solution and that is acceptance.

Accept people for who they are.  Don’t assume a course of behavior based on a nationality or interest.  Let people be who they are and hope that spreads like brush fire.  The world will be a little better each day if we practice tolerance.

Try it.

It’s kind of fun and you will be surprised how people can amaze you.


Brian Johnson said it best at the end of the Breakfast Club:

Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did WAS wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is … a brain…
Andrew Clark: …and an athlete…
Allison Reynolds: …and a basket case…
Claire Standish: …a princess…
John Bender: …and a criminal…

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

One thought on “The Likeness of Being: What is the joke about stereotypes?

  1. “Accept people for who they are. Don’t assume a course of behavior based on a nationality or interest. Let people be who they are and hope that spreads like brush fire. The world will be a little better each day if we practice tolerance.”
    If we all did that there would be no racism and a lot more kindness in this world. Great of you to remind people, and spread the message. I am trying to do this every day at work, while people judge others. Everyone has a story and we do not know why people are as they are, but tolerance and acceptance is the key to living together in harmony!
    Thank you from my heart!

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