Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stereotyping? Me?

There's this guy I know. He's charming. He's cute. He's even aggravatingly smart.
And guess what?
He's a total player.
I have watched him flit from girl to girl. I have been flattered when I am that girl, and annoyed when he turns to my best friends. And I have written him off as an idiot time and time again. Not just an idiot, either, but a jerk, and a shallow jerk at that.
Then I talk to him. We'll talk about Caesar or politics. We'll talk, and I'll realize again...He's not an idiot just because he's a player.
And then we'll talk about girls. He'll bash idiot girls. He'll say stuff like "The only thing I really can't stand is a smart girl who acts like an idiot."
And I find myself staring at him thinking "But...Why do you only date idiots? Why do you act like an idiot? And why do you get offended when I call you one?"
(Okay, fine. The last thought generally isn't verbatim. I get why that's offensive, at least.)
It's interesting, because he stereotypes himself. He puts himself into the player role so thoroughly, and then doesn't even realize that he's doing it.
Don't get me wrong. He kind of is a jerk. But there is more to him than that. He does have some reason to what he does, and some motivation to why he acts like an idiot. He even
It happens in writing, too.
I've read soooo many stories where characters seem real. Three dimensional. And then they'll say something, and the reader just kind of blinks and stares and eventually ends up dissing the author for using a stereotype.
But we all do it.
For instance, I'm sitting in the library right now. A cheerleader walked in about ten minutes ago. I'm not even one of the people who doesn't like cheerleaders--I'm friends with several--but when she ended up pulling out like, twelve books and walking off, I was kind of shocked.
Scratch that. Kind of?
I thought she had nothing inside of her head. Or, you know, not much, except for really short shorts and sparkly eyeliner.

And then she went and sat down and started READING. Therefor, you know, all assumptions that she was just picking stuff up for a family member flew away.
And now here I am, feeling pretty dang shallow.
I guess it makes sense, though. If I'm smart enough to realize that using stereotypes in writing/reading isn't cool, then I should be smart enough not to do it in real life...even if it was subconscious. Just because the girl has good hair and makeup doesn't mean she's a bimbo.
(Granted, this also goes back to acting stupid even when you are smart. I mean, so not cool.)
Still, though. It's interesting.
More later.

Also. Maggie, along with several other people, have peer pressured me into getting a Twitter.
That's right. I now have facebook, blog, and twitter.
Yes. I promise, I do have a real life too.
The link is over on the sidebar, though. Come over and say hi!


Lisa Gail Green said...

Nice post. I think the key is to change up at least one aspect of that character to something unexpected. Like, as you pointed out, the cheerleader that reads tons of books.

Aspen said...

I swear I already commented... oh well. Really good post! I think exactly what you're talking about helps a lot in writing. Forcing your characters to do something you never imagined your precious little imaginary people doing when you first met them.

Maggie said...

Sigh. What's sad is that the girl you mentioned was doing better than me in Spanish. She's just so peppy that no one realizes she's actually insanely smart.

And the boy. Hmm. I don't know him all that much, but you know, from what I observe (eavesdrop on) he is very much as described.

Silly stereotypes. They are strange things.

I think stereotypes can be sort of good as long as you mix it up some. Add some stuff that isn't expected and TADA! You have a character people can relate to and still find interesting and different. :)