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Related: stock character - cliché - tropes
Instances: macho or alpha male - national stereotypes - damsel in distress - femme fatale
To be found in: men's adventure magazines - genre fiction
DefinitionA conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image. --AHD
In modern usage, a stereotype is a simplified mental picture of an individual or group of people who share a certain characteristic (or stereotypical) qualities. The term is often used in a negative sense, and stereotypes are seen by many as undesirable beliefs which can be altered through education and/or familiarisation. Stereotypes are common in the world of drama, where they are often used as a form of dramatic shorthand.
Common stereotypes include a variety of allegations about various racial groups, (see: racial stereotype and racial profiling) predictions of behavior based on social status and wealth (See social stereotype), and allegations based on sex.
In literature and art, stereotypes are clichéd or predictable characters or situations. For example, the stereotypical devil is a red, impish character with horns and a pitchfork, whilst the stereotypical salesman is a slickly-dressed, fast-talking individual who cannot usually be trusted. The Italian Commedia Dell'arte was known for its stock characters and stock situations, which could be considered drama stereotypes. Throughout history, storytellers have drawn from stereotypical characters and situations, in order to quickly connect the audience with new tales.
The word stereotype originated in the world of printing; it was originally a duplicate impression of an original typographical element, used for printing instead of the original. Over time, this became a metaphor for any set of ideas repeated identically, en masse, with no changes. In fact, cliché and stereotype were both originally printers' words, and in their literal printers' meanings were synonymous. Specifically, cliché was an onomatopoetic word for the sound that was made during the stereotyping process when the matrix hit molten metal. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype [Apr 2005]
Originally a stereotype was an impression taken from a form of movable lead type and used for printing instead of the original type. This was generalized into a metaphor for repeating a set of ideas identically with no changes (as would have been possible in a form of movable type).
In modern usage, the metaphorical meaning predominates. The term is generally used to describe an oversimplified mental picture of some group of people who are sharing a certain characteristic (or stereotypical) qualities. The term is thus often used in a negative sense, with stereotypes being seen by many as illogical yet deeply held-beliefs that can only be changed through education.
Common stere otypes of the past included a variety of allegations about various racial groups (see: racial stereotype and racial profiling) and predictions of behavior based on social status and wealth (See social stereotype).
In literature and art, stereotypes are clichéd or predictable characters or situations. For example, the stereotypical devil is a red, impish character with horns and a pitchfork.
Common stereotypical characters
The "hard-boiled" private eye The aging absent-minded professor (sometimes speaking incoherently) The dizzy busty blonde woman The dowdy librarian (who becomes instantly attractive when she takes her glasses off) The degenerate aristocrat with top hat, tuxedo, and monocle The snobbish butler (speaking with a non-American English accent) The nerdy scientist (with black wiry-framed eyeglasses, black bowtie, white coat, speaking in technobabble) The primly dressed schoolmarm with her pointer and "Now, class" address The peg-legged pirate with an eye patch and parrot The overweight, doughnut-eating cop who believes skateboarding is a crime The prostitute with a heart of gold The brightly colored court jester The villain with black clothes, moustache like two needles and generalized Central or Eastern European accent The jolly Middle Eastern or South Asian cornershop owner with his collection of trinkets The picky chef with his toque and piquant French accent The overdelivering game show host with his giant smile The tobacco-spitting baseball player The effeminate homosexual male The tomboyish lesbian The old lady who sits on the porch, reminiscing and knitting
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