How movies create stereotypes

Posted on Dec 6 2013 - 1:13pm by Guest Writer

By Tahnayee Clendinen, A&E Writer

The pop culture of our time has become overrun with stereotypes. They are force fed to us on screen, over the radio and through offensive humor. The worst offenders are Hollywood filmmakers who have highlighted the same stereotypes over and over again, imprinting them onto unsuspecting viewers.

Some of the most common stereotypes on screen are the dumb blond character, the really smart Asian character and the portrayal of minorities in a criminal or thuggish fashion.

Sophomore Courtney Lee, who is blond-haired, said she has noticed some of the effects of movie stereotypes, such as how “Legally Blonde” has changed the way blond-haired people are treated in general.

“Movies like ‘Legally Blonde’ have absolutely contributed to the stereotype,” Lee said. “In that movie she [Elle Woods] tries to fit in, but she can’t initially, because she’s not smart enough, and still deviates towards other stereotypical things like makeup, hair and boys.”

In other movies, we’ve all seen that Asian character that has an unbelievably high IQ and totally unreasonable parents. This has, in turn, affected the way many Asian-Americans assimilate into real life situations.

Sebastian Smith, a researcher with the AFP global news foundation, said, “what makes Asian Americans’ problem unique is that they are trapped in the cliche of having to be clever — clever to the point of being nerdy, out of touch and unable to represent mainstream American life.”

First-year Emi Smith said she has been faced with the stereotype and backlash when she couldn’t rise to meet the unreasonably high standards set for her.

“I remember in math class when we had a big project to do, everyone wanted to be my partner,” Smith said. “They were all disappointed and withdrawn after they figured out that I was just as bad at it [math] as everyone else.”

The last stereotype of the minority leading the criminal lifestyle is the most common out of all three.

“It’s disgusting” first-year Ladedra Hill said. She said that in movies people will see minorities committing crimes, doing drugs or who are pregnant with attitudes.

“I’ve been talked down to or treated badly because of stereotypes,” Hill said. “Just because it happens in movies doesn’t mean its like that in real life.”

Maybe someday Hollywood will be able to break away from stereotypes and realize all of the negative effects that it has on our society. Until then, people who do the stereotyping will continue to get the wrong first impressions, and those who are stereotyped will continue to be treated differently because of them.