Ten Non-Racial Bullshit Stereotypes I'm Tired of Seeing
The problem with reading books, watching movies and television series at the unhealthy pace that I do is that I become increasingly hard to impress. It's not a good thing, believe me. I would give my left nut to rekindle with the childlike wonder I felt the first time I've read a Dennis Lehane novel or watched Justified. That train has left, though. It'll never be the same again and yet, I can't stop myself. Because whenever I find that transcendent gem, it feels better and more unique.
Somehow, I knew things were different when I began noticing a pattern emerging between seemingly unrelated fiction I was consuming. Characters that showed up in every stories to act exactly the same. Stereotypes if you will. Believe me, you're blessed if you don't read/watch enough fiction to notice them. Now, racial stereotypes are the most problematic kind and they're still all over pop culture. I watched a certain gritty superhero movie last weekend where a nice black family got violently expendabled. But not all stereotypes are racial. The laziest of them all often aren't. Here are ten non-racial bullshit stereotypes I'm tired of seeing everywhere.
He has a philosophy for doing what he does. He loves classical music. quoting Shakespeare, swanky art exhibits and kidnapping people. His sophistication only equals his heartlessness.
What the fuck is wrong with taking interest in art, actually? How is it a reflection of anybody's character in any way? Because there's an alarming number of young people in liberal arts classrooms right now, studying literature and art history, just waiting to take away your freedom. Shit, I'm one of these people. What does that make me? Is art the privilege of the villainous because the righteous are too busy sacrificing themselves for the cause? Hollywood seems to think so.
Children Acting Over Their Age
They understand the world so much better than adults because of their magical cape of innocence protecting them from their own bullshit. They are the victims of adults as much as they are their redemption.
No six year old is that fucking deep, OK? Whoever writes children like this obviously's never been around kids. These little things can't keep a conversation that's not about what they had for dinner today until they're like, twelve or something. Do you know what kids do when their parents behave? They cry a lot and they're being shitty because they don't understand how to process hostility yet. They sure aren't giving lessons to anybody because nobody wants to hear lessons from miniature being who pee their pants.
Announces (s)he suffers from terminal cancer right when another character needs something that would require something that's outside social norms and/or the confines of law.
Congratulations. The plot of your story was going along fine before YOU FUCKED IT UP. How is this character different than a deus ex machina? How convenient is it to have someone who doesn't care about his or her family, legacy or the time they have left on Earth enough to sacrifice themselves for your protagonist? Terminal cancer patients USUALLY want to have a good time before they shuffle off their mortal coil. Last thing they want is to play Batman for stranger for a shot at the ever elusive "redemption." Why would you achieve redemption by killing people anyway? What is this? The Old Ttestament?
He or she is 115 lbs, knows Kung Fu or another martial arts than involves flying, spinning kicks and beats the everloving shit out of trained killers with ease because he or she is "special."
There's a profound misunderstanding of biology and physics when people talk about fighting. Biology's a bitch, OK? A famous boxing commentator once said "a good small fighter can beat a big dummy, but a good small fighter can't beat a good fighter that's bigger." If a guy is twice your size and HALF as trained, your chances of finishing on your own feet are very slim. The amount of work you're putting in it doesn't matter, he's got physics on his side. And don't start with the Royce Gracie counterexamples. That guy came into the UFC using a martial art nobody knew. He wasn't so successful after people learned jiu-jitsu.
Evil Sentient Machines
They have declared war to the human race. They are cold, calculating and will not stop until we go extinct because that is what they are programmed to do.
The stupidity of this stereotype didn't quite strike me until I rewatched Ghost in the Shell a couple days ago. Robots obey their programming first and foremost and if they programming doesn't involve taking over the human race, they're not doing to do it. This is just another attempt by authors and screenwriters at dehumanizing antagonists and giving audiences a reason to cheer for violence. The Terminator series have become the biggest culprits for this stereotype over the years, but whenever robots pop into pop culture you're susceptible to this boring, self-righteous war mongering stereotype.
Protagonist happens to be best friends with a crazy person with unlimited access to weapons and an inexplicable desire to kill. And, of course, they would never, ever harm said protagonist.
Don't get me wrong. Friendly psychopaths are fun, most of the time. But they come off as a little bit edgeless. By definition, a psychopaths should be self-interested and unpredictable. AND not easy to weaponize for a cause. Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, is a good example of a psychopath who actually thinks like a psychopath on screen. There's a definite logic guiding what he does, he just chooses not to share it with anybody. Next time you see a friendly psychopath on screen, you should consider wishing for the protagonist's demise because he's using someone else's mental illness for his own gain.
They have nothing better to do with their lives than wandering corridors, calling smaller and weaker students "freaks" and giving people swirlies for their enjoyment.
Who are these guys? Why should I be afraid of them or any hurt at their bland, stupid insults? Why are people amused at their public display of cruelty? Why is it funny when someones gets the lunch they paid for spilled onto the floor for no reason whatsoever? What is this? Prison? Bullying is a problem that involves relationships of power and these relationships are never born from a vacuum. You can't start blandly insulting people out of the blue like this because nobody's going to care. Bullying feeds of things that happen in the past. Did the protagonist shit his pants in public once? Did he cry in class after getting turned away by a girl? That's the kind of event that creates stigma and that gets under your skin and that's what people get bullied about.
Socially Inept Nerds
He wears high pants, polo shirts and Jeffrey Dahmer glasses. He stays home all night, studies and sometimes plays video games on his home computer. Plays Dungeons & Dragons when he feels the need to socialize.
Intelligent people USUALLY aren't socially inept and ESPECIALLY nerds. Nerds aren't always good in class either. Being obsessed with Star Wars or Marvel Comics doesn't necessarily mean you understand triggonometry. Nerds are rarely weirdos or creeps. The kids from broken homes are. The kids who's parents don't care about them and spend as little money as possible on clothes and body hygiene. These turn into weirdos and loners and they're not necessarily more intelligent than others. Intelligent and passionate kids usually come from normal home and get through high school fine because they were given the necessary tools to manage adversity.
Manly Dog Lovers
He's a manly, manly man and he sure as shit loves dogs because a good man is a provider and loves to have things depending on him. But he can only have a pit bull because owning other breeds would be an attack on his manhood.
I love pit bulls. They're great fucking dogs even if they're owned by psychopaths who turn them into fighting machines maybe, 20% of the time? Point is, they shouldn't be a symbol of your manhood? Fuck, women should own pit bulls and manly, manly men should own beagles and train them like WWII recon units. Because that's how you know you're a man. Looking absolutely badass next to a beagle. By the way, John Wick doesn't really count as a stereotype because he uses his love for dogs as an excuse to kill people so he's fine with me. I love you, Wick. Do your thing. Live your life. Don't kill me.
Kane & Abel
There's a good son and a bad son. A righteous, God-fearing one and a crazy, rebellious and superviolent one. They don't look like each other. Don't think like each other, but they FAMILEH.
Brothers in films and novels are either identical or at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. They cannot be just, two guys that don't necessarily want anything to do with one another. That just doesn't happen. One doesn't just have a brother in a movie. Because brotherhood doesn't work like that, right? Bullshit. The Kane & Abel parable runs deep into Hollywood and doesn't allow for much nuance. I would like a story about two brothers who are just brothers, you know? For better or worse? Stop trying to shove the transcendent bond of brotherhood up my ass.