Truth About Stereotypes
by Mad Dog
The French, for example, are generally regarded as being rude,
arrogant, and smelling bad. It turns out they are.
|| Its hard
not to categorize people. Im sure youve heard the stereotypes, if not uttered
them yourself: Italians are gangsters, Mexicans are lazy, Arabs are terrorists, feminists
are men-haters, loners in Montana are militiamen, yuppies are scum, presidents lie,
politicians only care about re-election, and TV programmers live to insult our
intelligence. But as rational human beings we know that not all the people in a given
group fit the stereotype. Well, except for presidents, politicians, and TV programmers.
While we know its not good to stereotype people, we
do it anyway, largely because it makes us feel superior, since as a rule stereotypes
arent flattering. Sure, there are exceptions to this, like Brazilian women are
beautiful and Asians are exceptional in math and science, but how many more can you think
We also stereotype people because, well,
sometimes its true. The French, for example, are generally regarded as being rude,
arrogant, and smelling bad. It turns out they are.
The Germans are so obsessed with being neat, in fact, that some of them have banded
together to form (True Fact Alert!) Messies Anonymous.
|| Before you get
your paté in an uproar, the proof comes from the highly regarded French newspaper Le
Figaro (Motto: "Sure were named after an Italian opera written by an
Austrian composer, but were so arrogant and rude we can get away with it"), and
if they dont know, who would? Among a batch of recently published surveys, the
newspaper revealed that fewer than half of the French take a bath or shower every day, 40
percent of the men and 25 percent of the women dont change their underwear daily,
and only half of the French bother to use deodorant.
Besides demonstrating that their national cleanliness is nowhere near
anyones sense of godliness, this lack of basic personal hygiene also proves that the
French are indeed rude and arrogant, since they obviously dont care what the rest of
the world thinks. They figure that if wed stay away from their country and leave
them alone we wouldnt have to smell them, so that makes it our fault.
Their neighbors in Germany, on the other hand,
have a different set of stereotypes to battle. Like being neat-freaks. This also turns out
to be true, as borne out by those same surveys which found that the Germans use twice as
much soap in a year as the French. Theyre so obsessed with being neat, in fact, that
some of them have banded together to form (True Fact Alert!) Messies Anonymous, a
zwölf-step program designed to help the 10 percent of the population who are in danger of
being ostracized because theyre vacuum cleaner-challenged, miss appointments,
misplace their belongings, have a messy house, or inadvertently smile in public,
especially to a foreigner.
Luckily, there are still stereotypes that we can believe in, like the sanctity of Mom,
apple pie, and the Mouseketeers. Well, two out of three aint bad.
|| Here in the
United States we have out own stereotype problems. People around the world think we have a
poor work ethic, we eat lots of junk food, and were all rich. Well, it should come
as no surprise then that theyre pretty close to the truth, since unscheduled
employee absenteeism is at a 7-year high, breakfast cereal turns out to be the main source
of vitamins and minerals for children, and Bill Gates just bought the rest of the world,
which will teach them to laugh at us again.
Luckily, there are still stereotypes that we can believe in, like
the sanctity of Mom, apple pie, and the Mouseketeers. Well, two out of three aint
bad. Yes, Im sorry to have to break the news, but the image of Mouseketeer as Purity
Im sure you remember the
Mouseketeers. They were those happy, bubbly, impossibly clean-cut kids who starred in the
"Mickey Mouse Club". The first batch started in 1955, followed years later by
some impostorsI mean new membersin 1977. The original shows can still be seen
on the Disney Channel. The New Mickey Mouse Club can only be seen in your worst acid
Now it turns out that original Mouseketeer
Darlene Gillespie, who broke as many heartsthough not as many box office
recordsas Annette Funicello, has single-handedly blown the Mouseketeer stereotype by
being convicted of stock fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, perjury, and
conspiracy. And she wasnt even an elected official! Shell be sentenced in
March, but its a safe bet theyll strip her of her ears, digitally erase her
from the tapes of the show, and make her stand guard over Walts frozen body until
she learns to behave.
By now your head is probably spinning as
fast as a Whirling Dervish, since all this makes it very difficult to know whether to
believe a stereotype or not. So the safest thing you can do is what you were taught
growing up: dont stereotype people. Well, except for presidents, politicians, and TV
programmers. Everyone knows they lie, only care about re-election, and live to insult our
©1998 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. But
that's only a stereotype.