I was surfing the net in search of information on this topic when I found this definition of stereotype:
“a single statement or attitude about a group of people that does not recognize the complex, multidimensional nature of human beings.”
Even though we, human beings, must simply accept that stereotypes are mainly negative and have to agree that they are generally unjust and deceptive, we still persist in proving how unfair is “a simplified and fixed image of all members of a culture or group”; and when trying to show that, only from time to time, we encounter examples that make us wonder.
Last year the CNNNY TV offered their viewers a video of American people answering “general knowledge” questions in the middle of the street. I am not going to describe what purpose they had in mind when they made the video, you can judge yourselves.
While watching the video, you were probably amused and astonished to see all those passers-by unable to articulate correct answers. Most of the questions were quite basic and obvious, but others were not so evident. I suggest that you should try to answer them, but keep in mind that you will be under no pressure, so you can do that at your own pace.
Name a country that begins with U.
Who is in the coalition of the willing?
What is the religion of Israel?
What religion are Buddhist Monks?
Who won the Vietnam War?
Who is Fidel Castro?
How many sides does a triangle have?
What is the currency used in the United Kingdom?
Koffee Annan is a coffee drink, true?
Who is Tony Blair?
Which countries are in the Axis of Evil?
Who was the first man on the moon?
What is a Mosque?
How many kidneys does a person have?
What is collateral damage?
How many World Wars have there been?
Which state does KFC come from?
Star Wars is based on a true story, true?
What are Hiroshma and Nagasaki famous for?
Where is the West Bank?
How many Eiffel Towers are in Pairs?
What is Al-Qaeda?
Where was the Berlin Wall?
The language spoken in Latin America is Latin, true?
Now you can compare your own ideas with these video-answers.
However, if you think that something like that could only have happened in USA, watch these two other videos where European citizens are asked quite elementary questions and are not able to give the right answers, either.
I really believe that making genalizations about countries and nationalities does not help to understand each other better, and I complete agree with this person’s opinion that “we all stereotype and sometimes the stereotype image is true, partially true and sometimes it is false. Many nationalities share similar traits and behaviors that lead to stereotyping. Is this bad? No I do not think so, but the problem is that many people stop there. The human animal is complex and is changing faster as technology and communication spreads. We are becoming more homogeneous than before. Is this bad? I think not, as long as we can appreciate our cultural heritage.
If we find ourselves stereotyping, we must also take the effort to look beyond, all people are unique, even though they may share certain stereotypical behaviors.” (taken from englishclub.com forum)