Stereotype

Media stereotypes are systematic representations, repeated in a variety of forms from jokes and cartoons to news broadcasts, feature films, and television series. A descriptive or designative (based on physical appearance) aspect combines with an evaluative aspect in which people are judged from a particular perspective or point of view. Stereotypes are especially insidious when they become a way for powerful groups to characterize subordinated groups, whether it is men viewing women, whites viewing blacks, or the middle class viewing the working class. What is usually false about a stereotype is the systematic suggestion that all people of a group are this way, and this way by nature, and that we should feel superior to them, whether we despise, fear, or laugh at the stereotype.

The evaluative dimension of stereotypes justifies social differences. This goes for positive stereotypes (the boy genius, the visionary CEO) as well as negative ones (the …

This essay may be found on page 184 of the printed volume.

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