CTS: Stereotypes and Categorising People

A type is a widely recognised characterisation of certain traits whilst a stereotype is when a person is reduced to those traits as they are exaggerated and simplified. Stereotypes maintain boundaries (Dyer, 1977 in Hall, 1997).

A very well-known stereotype is that of the character Vicky Pollard in the comedy show Little Britain. Famously played by Matt Lucas, Vicky is a parody of ‘Chavs’ living in the West Country, she has six ASBO’s and left school at age eleven as well as twelve babies. Many people find these sketches hilarious, whilst others have different views; Little Britain “has been a vehicle for two rich kids to make themselves into multimillionaires by mocking the weakest people in Britain… In one fell swoop, they have demolished protections against mocking the weak that took decades to build up” (Hari, 2005).


The history of stereotyping dates back to the 1770s and the concept of physiognomy ‘the art of determining character or personal characteristics from the form or features of the body, especially of the face.’ I think that there are certain boundaries when it comes to stereotypes. If Matt Lucas was actually a ‘Chav’ himself then there would be no problem because it would be true to his life. However, there is a generalisation that takes place e.g. the assumption and appearance of ‘Chav’s’ according to Little Britain, when stereotyping which is ultimately unfair. This is not only done with appearance, it occurs with religion, racial stereotyping and feminism to name a few.

A very current example of stereotyping is that of people of the Islamic faith. Whether it is here in England, in the U.S.A with Trump’s travel ban or France with the banning of the veil, you have to ask when will it stop? Famous satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has published mocking cartoons of the prophet Muhammad more than once, which is disrespectful to the Muslim faith, resulting in attacks by Muslim extremists killing ten members of Charlie Hebdo’s staff. This was and is extremely sad. There has to be some kind of boundary between free speech and discrimination, I think free speech should be allowed but not when it is discriminatory. This may be contradictory, but when it is a matter of life and death I think that it is justified.









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