Hollywood’s Eight Worst Stereotypes
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
If Hollywood is good at anything, it is the ability to perpetuate a stereotype - whether it is deserved or not. While one can say, as I often do, that stereotypes exist for a reason, their existence is indicative of lazy writing. While Hollywood likes to use “the Black stereotype” in movies, there are plenty more going around; as plentiful as deer in Spring. Without further ado, let us review Hollywood’s eight worst stereotypes and examples.
Hollywood Stereotype #8 - Russians: Vodka, Sex Workers, Mobsters, & the State
Let us begin our journey in a land which needs no introduction: Russia. One could think that Russia would be overflowing with drunken mobsters based on Hollywood depictions. Surely other industries exist aside from organized crime, sex workers, clandestine military operatives, spies and police - sometimes in combination as in the case of Eastern Promises (2007). Even the beloved Bond classic, GoldenEye (1995), is guilty as charged in their depiction of tough love Bond-girl Natalya Simonova as an Russian military agent on the GoldenEye project.
Hollywood Stereotype #7 - People from India: The “I” in IT
After evading drunken mobsters, we head south to find ourselves in the land of Information Technology: India. Surely, this country must have doctors, lawyers, inventors, writers and world-renowned religious leaders, but, according to Hollywood, this entire country is overflowing with IT professionals. Modern TV shows attempt to break this mold, but generally don’t progress far. For instance, The Big Bang Theory’s Raj Koothrappali was an astrophysicist from India, not an IT expert. While attempting to improve from Hollywood’s usual depiction, this character is only a slight deviation.
Hollywood Stereotype #6 - Southern American Accent = White Supremacist, Cop, and/or Both
If you’ve ever flown to the United States on Delta Airlines, chances are your flight may have landed in Atlanta International Airport. Atlanta, a Southern city of the United States, may not align with Hollywood’s depiction of American Southerners. In the movie Men in Black 3, Will Smith’s character travels back through time and encounters two cops after stealing a car. Naturally, Hollywood depicts that both officers spoke with noticeable southern accents, despite the scene being depicted occurring within the bounds of New York City. These cartoon-ish exaggerations can take on a life of their own, and are endless. I can picture a scene like this written for a Hollywood movie:
“Hello, Bobby, how are the wife and children?”
“Oh, fine. Junior just got approved and will be going to med school in the Fall!”
“That’s good to hear. My wife, Suzie, just recently finished her dissertation on the effects of gravity on gamma radiation and will be…”
Both men are interrupted by the sight of a member of a minority walking by.
“Well, lookie here, we gots ourselves ‘ah high-and-mighty (insert racist slur here), git da rope ready, yeah-haw!”
Scenes like this are repeated constantly - to include the scene depicting a Black driver harassed by a White Cop.
Hollywood Stereotype #5: All Germans Are Nazis
Let’s face it, it is rough being an American Southerner in a Hollywood movie, but Germans have it worse. Anytime you hear someone with even a slightly-German accent you know it involved WW2 and/or the Nazis, and will go Anti-Semitic any moment. If you are lucky, they might only goose-step around the house and give the occasional palm-out salute. Maybe Russia and Germany should work out a trade deal and swap some of those goose-steppers with the mobsters.
Instances: Any WW2 movie featuring Germans so here are a few: Inglorious Bastards (2009), Defiance (2008), Schindler’s List (1993), Maus (1980), The Man with the Iron Heart (2017), The Denial (2016), Forgiving Dr. Mengele (2006)
Historical Caveat: While on the subject of well-documented atrocities, Hollywood movies typically ignore the fact that Jewish people were not the only victims of concentration camps. The list of demographics sent there is long and includes, but not limited to; Gypsies, homosexuals, Free Masons, Russians, Polish, Czechs, anyone with a mental disability, political dissidents, communists, Catholics, and anyone who spoke out against the ruling government. Anyone, for whatever reason, could be subjected to the “black-bag” treatment, of being dragged off in the middle of night and never to be heard from again. If you are going to depict an injustice, depict the whole injustice.
Hollywood Stereotype #4: Africans: Slaves, Spears & Warlords - Oh My!
Africa is the largest continent on the planet with an unmatched diversity of peoples and cultures, but if you only watched Hollywood movies you wouldn’t know that. Tourism bureaus throughout the African continent are working hard to dispel the stereotypes spread by Hollywood movies and television. Africa has some of the most beautiful, modern cities in the world. Contrary to that last movie you watched, not everyone is a 3rd-world barbarian running around with an AK-47, and a spear. Why? Well, first, most Africans are NOT 3rd-world barbarians as seen in movies. Second, if you have an AK-47, why wield a spear?
Instances: Independence Day (1996), Lord of War (2007), Zulu (1964), Casino Royale (2006), Last King of Scotland (2006), Blood Diamond (2006), Black Hawk Down (2001), Ghost in the Darkness (1996), Congo (1995), Roots (1977 & 2016)
Hollywood Stereotype #3: Gay is as Good as Dead
Hollywood is no exception with pushing offensive stereotypes, and killing off their gay/homosexual characters is next on the list. Despite the grandiose themes and messages stated by celebrities during awards shows in support of the gay community, the rate by which gay characters die in movies suggests otherwise. “Good luck”, to the gay character on surviving long enough to be in the sequel.
Hollywood Stereotype #2: White men always surpass their minority teachers
The original trope coined by Spike Lee “The Magical Negro” has been expanded by Hollywood to encompass all minority teachers. If you are a white man in a Hollywood movie and you found a minority teacher to help you learn a skill, it’s a given that the student will soon outshine their instructor. The worst part of the matter is that this has nothing to do with complimenting the teacher’s ability to instruct - because teaching is hard! This has more to do with a superiority complex or even a “supremacy complex” enshrined around the main character. No matter how many years of experience that minority teacher may have had before, after one quick training montage the white student can best the master. Also, having a “magical, minority friend” in your ability to excel at the skills you are training for to save the day.
Instances: The Last Samurai (2003), Kill Bill (2003), Rising Sun (1993), Kung Fu (1972), Happy Gilmore (1996), Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), Dr. Strange (2016), The Defiant Ones (1958), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Caveat: Keanu Reeves in the Matrix trilogy didn’t fit this stereotype because he is not white. He was born in Lebanon and is of Native Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Irish, and Portuguese descent from his father and of Chinese-Hawaiian and Middle Eastern descent from his mother.
Hollywood Stereotype #1: Mary Sue and Gary Stu are the “best ever!”
Last, but not least, enter “Mary Sue '' and “Gary Stu”, they are armed with contrivances, plot armor, deus ex machina, and an active fan-atical base to defeat any and all opponents, indiscriminately. Once in a while, they might have to give something up and die, causing the supporting characters to lament their passing, “Mary Sue was too good for this sinful world”.
Instances: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) , Sucker Punch (2011), Batwoman (TV Series 2019-), Captain Marvel (2019), Twilight (2008), Star Trek the Next Generation (1987-1994)
About the author
A Texan at heart, Dr. C. Katze is a recipient of several Copy Boy awards and writes for The Grey Point of View since 2021. After experiencing life-changing travel with the US military, Dr. Katze now enjoys sipping wine on his balcony overlooking the Bavarian sunset. Alternatively, when he is not serving as a Combat Medic for the US military, Dr. Katze can be found on an Italian beach - pouring Limoncello over his ice cream - with his life-partner and their black cat.
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