Stereotypes (HLD 200)

8 Oct 2020

Please note – there is a bit of a fine line between stereotypes, and prejudice. I’m hoping that you will accept today’s bit of diarrhoea in the spirit it was intended, which is purely a lighthearted look at stereotypes.

One of the four books I currently have on the go on my kindle at the moment is Bill Bryson’s “Neither here nor there”, which talks about his wanderings around Europe.

In one part of Bill’s blurb he talks about some things that certain countries do without difficulty that others cannot get the hang of at all. He highlights French people’s inability to queue, British people’s lack of understanding of the fundamentals of eating (ie their innate instinct to eat a hamburger using a knife and a fork, or using the fork upside down to eat peas rather than scooping), the Germans being flummoxed by humour, the Swiss having no concept of fun, the Spanish seeing nothing at all wrong with eating dinner at midnight, and the Italians who should never ever have been told about the invention of the motor car.

Please note – these are Bill Bryson’s comments, not mine! If you don’t agree with his summation of each countries’ peculiarities, take it up with him.

But there have been, I’m sure in all countries, some theories about the nature of people of their neighbouring countries. Aussies have things they assume about all New Zealander’s, who in turn have rather wild assumptions about all Aussies. It’s all good fun until someone gets caught in a compromising situation with a sheep.

I did a little research and found there’s an absolute bunch of maps available showing what certain countries think about other countries. For instance, a map of Europe according to Luxembourg from 2013 shows England as ‘Gentlemen’, Ireland as ‘Muddy Beer’, eastern bloc countries as ‘dangerous bullies’, France as ‘Liberty, equality, arrogance’ and Italy as ‘noisy’. The map of the world according to Americans shows Canada as ‘fur trappers’, South America as ‘housekeeping’, India as ‘Yoga’, and Australia as ‘Kangaroo Riders’. There was a map of Europe according to Great Britain too, which showed Europe as one Evil Federated Empire of Europe, consisting of shops, drugs, cake, tanned men with grey hair, and noted that sunscreen would be required.

Again – it’s all good fun until someone takes it seriously. The maps are intended as a form of caricature – they are meant to be laughed at, as we know they aren’t true. But there’s just enough of a hint of a bit of truth there somewhere, so that people recognise the joke.

Where do these stereotypes come from though? Is it a form of prejudice, or maybe of jealousy?

Do you have any FUN stereotypes you’d like to share? And be aware that we have to accept stereotypes of our own homeland if we are going to dish it out too.

So – I live in South Perth (smug rich central) in the state of Western Australia (fly-in-fly-out rich mining state in the back end of nowhere) in the country of Australia (full of animals that want to kill you) in the Southern Hemisphere (what??? There is a part of world that isn’t northern hemisphere? Does it even show up on maps????)

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