Yesterday, a comment I saw on the video of the song ‘Sajda’ from the movie ‘My name is Khan’ caught my eye – “I am a Muslim and not a terrorist”. What this man was doing, and what Shahrukh has tried to do throughout the movie ( along with making us all weep), is fighting a Stereotype. An American stereotype at that.
As per an online dictionary, “Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions.” The thing to know is that they have no base in reality. The only connection that they have with reality is that once one or maybe a small number of people of a group did something/ acted in a particular way etc…. and it has now become the face of the group.
Let’s not go as far as America to understand stereotypes. We have Desi examples too. Those of you with a kid in the house (I have my 8+ sister here), or cartoon lovers, would have most probably seen the new cartoon on CN – Chor Police. The inspector is a Sardar, and by the sheer fact has been shown to be dumb. Why? The person who made this cartoon, I am sure, had no intention to hurt Sardars or anything on those lines… it just came out that way.
Which brings me to the next thing, most stereotypes have been known and repeated for such a long time that they are well a part of our unconscious now. They have become a part of our daily thinking and are no longer even given a second thought. All of us educated people here, know what a stereotype is, but we are happy living in stereotypes.
And suprisingly (or maybe not), the media (television, movies and the internet) do more to fuel the fire than to extinguish it. (But on that some other day)
Here are a few stereotypes. See how many you believe in. (And do me a favour, be honest to yourselves and try not going in defensive mode)
- All Islamic men are terrorists
- All Sardars are dumb
- Woman are moody and complicated.
- Men are lazy and never understand women.
- All men want to just get into the pants of women.
- Woman are bad drivers.
- All South Indians are Albert Einsteins reborn. ( don’t get me wrong, they are very intelligent, but it gets out of hand at times)
- All Jews are greedy
- All Irish are drunkards
- All whites have superiority complex
- All blondes are dumb
- All French are romantic