Stereotypes. The term is used to distinguish cultural and social perspectives and categorise them in conjunction with cliché values. On the surface, we all know or have experience of this, so I plan to analyse this topic from a visual angle rather than a general one.
Their have been numorous examples in the history of design that have influences of stereotyping to enhance its own work while demoralising a cultural group. The typical examples being from the 40’s with the animated cartoon TV show”Scrub me mama! with a boogie beat” .
However, I’m not here to put down the notion of visual categorisation, or the work of Alex Lovy himself.
Many people believe that the use of stereotyping to enhance media is distributing. Those same people on the over hand, have no problem watching an episode Family Guy or south park.
If used in the right way, stereotyping any format, weather it be about ethnicity, class, gender or culture can really enhance communication in work rathar then penalise it. This might take a while for people to accept this concept in visual media and design, however people have already began to embrace this idea in a popular form of media already, being the genre of comedy.
The Comedy genre has used the technique of indicating the flaws of stereotyping and turned the negatives of stereotyping on its head. This medium is Arguably, the most effective form of embracing stereotypes rather being aware of them.
A great embodiment of this idea is actor Mat Lucas, who is plays the fictional character vicky pollard in the Comedy sketch show, little Britain. Pollard is the exaggerated represention of the working class, white British Londoner (or in other words,chav). The characterisation of Pollard was for viewers to laugh lightly at the clearly exaggerated steryotype. However, the character portrayal only targeted one cultural stereotype.
Viewers did not take this lightly:
“Little Britain has been a vehicle for two rich kids to make themselves into multimillionaires by mocking the weakest people Ineed Britain.” (Hari, 2005)
Because the portrayal of Pollard was only based on one steryotype, it became difficult for some viewers to adjust to the humorous tone due to the lack of other stereotypes to balance out the offensive approach.
If a technique was used that is simular to family guy where all cultures and values were equally stereotyped, then the medium as a whole would seem more Inviting due to the balance of offensive humor.
I believe that visual art and design is going the wrong way about representing steryotypes. Like the Comedy genre, we can use it to enhance our message rather then just show it. I’m not saying that stereotypes should be generalised, but I am suggesting that we move away from using visual illustration to only raise awareness for stereotyping. Especially when it can be used for so much more.
And for those of you who are a bit uncomfortable with embracing steryotypes, I will leave you with a quote from Tyrion Lannister from the book “Game of Thrones” created by Gorge,R.Martin:
”Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you” pg.54 George,R.Martin A Game Of Thrones (first published in 1996).