Jonathan Lee High Tech Middle North County 8th Grade
At some point, I bet every child has dreamt of being a pirate. This influence can come from many different places, such as movies, TV, or even children’s books. Certain characters have been such a big part of pop culture that their origins, when observed, are very different from what we assume they act, dress, or look like. This assumption is called stereotyping. Whereby stereotyping can be based on movie characters, sometimes, it happens on a more offensive level in media, as well as in day-to-day life.
A common example is a stereotypical pirate. What comes to mind when you think of a pirate? Is it a dirty, peg-legged, swashbuckling sea-dog with a heavy accent? Unsurprisingly, that’s what most people visualize when they hear the word “pirate”. In reality, being a pirate was much worse than shown in the movies. Many factors made the “pirates’ life” a drag. Things such as disease and overcrowding was commonplace on a pirate ship. Usually, pirate crews were made up of poor farmers, fishermen, and ex-sailors. They also had very little training with weapons, with many pirates never even seeing a sword. They didn’t even know how to handle a gun, as powder and shot were a precious resource and could not be wasted on practice.
On a more serious note, movie stereotypes have evolved a lot over the years. There were always stereotypes based on race, gender, or labels. I remember seeing movies that cast white actors as the main character in an otherwise Asian setting and thinking how strange that was. There were also many, many movies in which an Asian actor always played as some kind of martial-arts master, evil drug lord, or wise old man.
Although exaggerated, stereotypes are based on a fatuous, often inane connection to the truth. The only problem with them is that they become applied to everyone of that outline without scrutiny. The media sort of cultivates stereotypes. When someone watches a movie, any stereotypes may be embedded into that individuals mind without them knowing it. At the same time, these same thoughts are what fuels the incorporation of stereotypes into movies and TV. This results in a circle of negative imaging and media.
A solution to stereotypes and, ultimately, other social justice issues, is proximity. The definition of proximity is to “be near in time, space, and relationship”. For example, if two individuals with preconceptions about each other spend time together, then through trial and familiarity, some incorrect stereotypes may dissolve. Proximity will allow people to grow closer to each other and either disregard and/or prevent any stereotyping. It may take a while for people to be able to accept one another and give each other a chance, but when people take action to identify and eliminate certain acts, thoughts, and injustice, change isn’t impossible.