Wednesdays in Publishing: The Top 6 Harmful Stereotypes We Never Even Noticed in Movies and Literature Part 2

Hey guys! Thanks to everyone who’s inboxed me and responded to my Goodreads post about this blog topic with elaborations and even more examples! One of my favorites was from one of my Goodreads followers who listed Last of the Mohicans as an example of the White Savior Complex. I wholly agree. I’ll take your Last of the Mohicans and raise you a The Last Samurai. 🙂

Wanna see 3 more stereotypes you may never have even noticed in your favorite books and movies? Of course you do, or you wouldn’t have stopped in today! So, let’s get to it!

 

Evil albino: a character with albinism is always portrayed as a villain. Umm, The Davinci Code, anyone? That movie is a great example of this trope.

 

Inspiration porn: where marginalized characters “overcome” the challenges associated with their identities to inspire the audience. This trend is especially prevalent in stories about disabilities. For example: Wonder by RJ Palacio which was an absolute SMASH hit on the shelves!

Jokes and Comedy/Humor at the Expense of Marginalized People: Some forms of humor and comedy are so ingrained in popular culture, we often fail to recognize their harmful effects on marginalized people and the way they reinforce the oppression of those groups. For example, consider the end of the movie A Christmas Story, in which the Asian restaurant workers are shown to be unable to sing carols due to their accents. In the recent remake for television, A Christmas Story Live, this ending was changed to remove the racism.

 

Other stereotypes and “microagressions” against anyone not “white, heterosexual and able-bodied” (thanks to Carina Press for that particular description)!

Misrepresentations of certain groups of people, history or reality. For example,

  • Smiling slaves in A Birthday Cake for George Washington.
  • The first Thanksgiving dinner upheld as a model for Native-colonist relations.

 

Microaggressions: statements, actions or incidents regarded as instances of indirect, subtle or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group.

Examples:

  • “All your people” statements: positive or negative, the statement stands to “other” the individual and their cultural group.
  • Hair touching (especially among black people)—hair is political, especially among the black community. Please understand this now if you don’t already! When other races fetishize, criticize or “other” people with comments about hair or skin, it is a microaggression.

 

These are the top 6 stereotypes floating around us in pop culture that really burn my biscuit! Can you think of any others? Well, I’m sure we can, aren’t you?

 


4 thoughts on “Wednesdays in Publishing: The Top 6 Harmful Stereotypes We Never Even Noticed in Movies and Literature Part 2

  1. I agree. One of the most EGREGIOUS examples I, personally, have ever seen of this is in The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney–a BESTSELLER in 2016! I’ve reviewed it here and on Goodreads. I believe I can pretty accurately quote myself off the top of my head as having said something like, “The underdeveloped stereotypes run rampant in this one,” but I hope I put it more elegantly than that! 🙂 smh terrible display of every stereotype of people she’s ever heard of lumped into 300 or so pages.

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  2. Yes! Yes and more Yes to all of this! This was one of the main reasons why I hated The Help. My question is why do these stereotypes continue to plague literature? By now writers should be well aware the problems with this. Could the publishing world need more people of color involved? Probably. Thanks for these posts. Excellent conversation as always!

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    1. Thanks, Didi! So, A LOT (actually all) of these tropes came up when I worked with a publisher on their Diversity in Publishing guide recently. Honestly, I think that the main reason they appear SO often is because they’re easy. These tropes are easy to identify and, thus, easy to write about because there’s a built-in audience and everyone already knows them, like a horrible, terrible common language we all understand. A lot of the work is already done for you if you write in stereotypes, because it offers an easy-to-follow template for who people are and what people believe. The HARD part, is moving AWAY from these stereotypes to build newer, fresher–hell–even healthier images of people.

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      1. Wow now I’m really disappointed.😔 I guess as readers we need to demand better by calling them out because that has to stop. However, now that you’ve pointed it out to me I can see how those tropes could become a habit. So many things that need to be improved in the publishing world.

        Liked by 1 person

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