The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'stereotypes'


In recent social psychology news, a team of US researchers has debunked the myth of the Baby Boomers' strong work ethic:

The economic success of the United States and Europe around the turn of the 20th to the 21st century is often ascribed to the so-called Protestant work ethic of members of the baby boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964. They are said to place work central in their lives, to avoid wasting time and to be ethical in their dealings with others. Their work ethic is also associated with greater job satisfaction and performance, conscientiousness, greater commitment to the organization they belong to and little time for social loafing.
Hang on, I hear you say: the stereotypical Baby Boomer work ethic? The generation born between 1946 and 1964, that of Beatlemania and Woodstock, long hair, Free Love, anti-Vietnam-War protests and recreational drug use (and, at its younger end, shading into the fuck-the-system nihilism of punk), being associated specifically with duty, discipline and delayed gratification? That can't be so. Perhaps whoever came up with that idea skipped a decade or two, and was instead thinking of a slightly earlier cohort; perhaps their older half-siblings, the neatly groomed beige-suited Eddie Haskells who addressed their parents as “sir” and “ma'am”, or even the “Greatest Generation” who sacrificed everything in World War 2, only to watch their kids grow their hair, listen to that godawful racket, and generally not exemplify a particularly strong work ethic.

The other possibility is, of course, that the stereotype of the “Baby Boomer work ethic” is not so much about the Woodstock generation but about old people. Which is to say, that it reflects survivor bias; the likelihood that the ones left standing into advanced age either had their shit together from the outset or got it together. Presumably, of the generation that came of age in the heady Sixeventies, some will have fallen by the wayside (and, of course, Reaganism, AIDS and punk rock were just around the corner), some will have grown up and gotten with the programme (this was in the day before emoji and executive hoodies, when adulthood was a one-way transformation into a stolid mortgage-paying lump of joyless responsibility), and some, seeing that they had survived and succeeded, would have rationalised that they had been hard-working and responsible (and, thus, deserving of their success) all along. Which, of course, vacated the space of feckless irresponsibility for the younger generation, to whom it always belongs.

Of course, what this means is that, in some 20 years' time, we can look forward to a paper debunking the widely held stereotype that Generation X—the one most recently associated with MTV, “alternative rock”, Nintendo and the “slacker” stereotype—are inherently more moral, virtuous and upstanding than their shabby, feckless descendants. And then, eventually, it will be the millennials, the generation of selfies, Taylor Swift and crushing debt. And, in turn, every generation will, shortly before its death, briefly be the Greatest Generation standing.

baby boomers culture history sixeventies stereotypes 0


A survey of British Sign Language users, asking signers of various ages to show the signs for various ethnic and other minority groups, has revealed that signs based on stereotypes have been replaced by more neutral signs; well, in most cases:

It is no longer acceptable to sign a slanted eye when talking about the Chinese or to mime a hook nose when referring to Jewish people. The flick of a limp wrist is now an offensive signal for homosexuals. A finger pointing to an imaginary spot in the middle of a forehead is no longer appropriate as the sign for India.
As for the new, culturally sensitive equivalents? Well, Chinese people wear Mao jackets and Jews have beards. India is indicated by the triangular shape of its continent, and being gay is indicated, for some reason, by “an upright thumb on one hand in the palm of the other, wobbling from side to side”. Meanwhile, France is no longer represented by pantomiming the twirling of a moustache, but instead by the comb of a cockerel (the symbol of France).

Did I say in most cases? Well, the Germans, it seems, are still the Huns of the Great War in Deaf Britain:

All British signers put their fist to their forehead with a finger pointing straight up, mimicking the shape of a Prussian spiked helmet, to refer to Germans.
The change in sign language is analogous to the change in accepted word usage among the hearing, with older people likely to use older terms which may have become offensive since they learned them. Interestingly enough, the “offensive” signs have to an extent been reclaimed by those referred to them:
"Gay deaf people use the old sign for gay, and disabled deaf people use the traditional sign for disabled, even though no one from outside that group who was socially sensitive would use those signs any more," said Woll.

culture deafness language political correctness sign language stereotypes 0


Last week, The Guardian once again ran a series of articles on Europe today, with contributions from papers in France, Spain, Germany, Poland and Italy. Intended partly to combat the rise in anti-European sentiment in the wake of the financial crisis. Among other things, this includes a number of profiles of political leaders by journalists from other countries (i.e., an Italian perspective on Germany's Angela Merkel, a German view of Poland's Donald Tusk, and French and British pieces on the other country's leader), as well as a a section looking at, and responding to, national stereotypes in Europe:

What message do we Brits think we send when our signature cultural export of 2011 was Downton Abbey, a show entirely about the intricacies of class and which apparently longs for a return to Edwardian notions of hierarchy? The smash West End play One Man, Two Guvnors similarly revolves around class. Unfortunately, it's not just a foreigners' myth that in Britain how one speaks and what school one attended still counts.
There is a vibrancy to modern British life that eludes the cliche's grasp. There's a hint of it in that Polish suggestion that the Brits are "kind and friendly to immigrants". Compared with other European countries, it's probably true that Britain is, generally, more tolerant. Some of our public services – the NHS, the BBC – are still cherished. We are not merely a mini-America of let-it-rip free-marketism.
Efficiency is not really a Berlin thing. Take construction. To build 2km of new tram lines to connect the new central station, they set aside three years. Delays were not even factored in. In China, they'd have built whole new cities in that time, or a high-speed motorway across the entire country. Maybe the Chinese are the Germans of the 21st century. Or maybe Berliners are just not typical Germans. Can you stereotype a country if its capital is not typical?
In Italy, sex drive increases with age. Naturally, it is also possessed to a degree by the young (this is why we have children), but it is only after the age of 50 that the Italian male finally dives headlong into adolescence. We are the only nation to have had a prime minister in his 70s who wears a bandana on his head like a tennis player or a rap singer.

culture europe france germany italy poland spain stereotypes uk 0


In praise of Joanne Rowling's Hermione Grainger series, which lauds the popular novelist for standing up to commercial pressure to adhere to traditional gender stereotypes and pepper her story with hackneyed clichés because they're, you know, "more marketable":

And what a show it is. In Hermione, Joanne Rowling undermines all of the cliches that we have come to expect in our mythic heroes. It’s easy to imagine Hermione’s origin story as some warmed-over Star Wars claptrap, with tragically missing parents and unsatisfying parental substitutes and a realization that she belongs to a hidden order, with wondrous (and unsettlingly genetic) gifts. But, no: Hermione’s normal parents are her normal parents. She just so happens to be gifted. Being special, Rowling tells us, isn’t about where you come from; it’s about what you can do, if you put your mind to it. And what Hermione can do, when she puts her mind to it, is magic.
The character of Harry Potter is an obnoxious error in the Hermione Granger universe, made more obnoxious by his constant presence. It’s tempting to just write Harry off as a love interest who didn’t quite work out; the popular-yet-brooding jock is hardly an unfamiliar type. And, given that Hermione is constantly having to rescue Harry, he does come across as a sort of male damsel-in-distress.But, if we look closely, we can see that Harry is a parody of every cliche Rowling avoided with Hermione. Harry is not particularly bright or studious; he’s provided with an endless supply of gifts and favors; he’s the heir to no less than two huge fortunes; he’s privileged above his fellow students, due to his fame for something he didn’t actually do himself; he even seems to take credit for “Dumbledore’s Army,” which Hermione started. Of course this character is obnoxious. It’s only by treating ourselves to the irritation caused by Harry that we can fully appreciate Hermione herself.
Which makes for an astute critique of the reactionary elements of popular fiction, of which Harry Potter is an exemplar. Whether it's convincing as a counterfactual history, though, is another matter; were Rowling to write her books in the way the article described, what's to say they wouldn't have sunk into obscurity like a lot of worthily didactic left-wing fiction, championed only by those so cultishly right-on that they condemn the Grauniad as a right-wing hate sheet?

culture feminism fiction harry potter politics society stereotypes 0


Some anonymous person entered the phrase "why are religion so" into Google, and plotted the completions it suggested (based on past searches) in a Venn diagram, coming up with this map of stereotypes:

It's interesting to note that no trait is popularly attributed to all three of the Abrahamic religions. (Perhaps the average web user can't spell "monotheistic"?)

Meanwhile, typing "why are atheists so" suggests the words "stupid", "smart", "intolerant", "mean", "annoying", "angry", "hateful", "hated" and "awesome".

(via atheism buddhism christianity islam jewish judaism religion stereotypes 2


The latest instalment of OKCupid's data-mining blog looks at the thorny question of race again; this time, analysing the text of users' profiles, correlated by self-identified racial group.

One part of the article mines keywords unique to racial groups from profiles and presents them as tag clouds, resulting in unsubtle stereotypes. It appears that white people here are not White People; white males are straight-up bros/bogans, into Tom Clancy, sweaty guitar rock, and petrol consumption as recreation, and the females are into spectator sports and a mess of wild-nature clichés, such as thunderstorms, horses and bonfires. (An Irish-American cast looms over both genders, with "Ireland" and plastic-Paddy brocore band Dropkick Murphys rating a mention.) Meanwhile, black people are religiously demonstrative (they're more than twice as likely to mention religion as white or Asian profiles), and Asian and Indian users mention interests in hard-headed professions such as mathematics, engineering and computers, and literature such as Freakonomics, Malcolm Gladwell and Calvin & Hobbes. That and the usual stereotypes.

Among the take-aways from this post: if you want to know if white dudes will like something, put "fucking" in the middle and see if it sounds badass. Hence "Van fucking Halen" and "The Big fucking Lebowski", but not "Alicia fucking Keys". (Of course, it breaks down if irony comes into it; if you're dealing not with bros but with hipsters mining the battlefront of the pop-cultural goldmine, they can get away with a lot of stuff. Take, for example, Fleetwood fucking Mac, or Hall and fucking Oates. This does has its limits, though; chances are, there isn't a hipster with big enough post-ironic cojones to make "Celine fucking Dion" sound right.)

Further down, OKCupid also ran a reading-level analysis algorithm over users' profiles, and correlated it with race and religion. The results were fairly close, though self-identified Indians and Asians had the best-written profiles, with "Latino", "black" and "white" profiles being in the bottom half. More interestingly, the analysis by religion shows a distinct inverse correlation between religiosity and writing level.

Note that for each of the faith-based belief systems I've listed, the people who are the least serious about them write at the highest level. On the other hand, the people who are most serious about not having faith (i.e. the "very serious" agnostics and atheists) score higher than any religious groups.

culture data mining okcupid race religion stereotypes 0


Some observations on Halloween costumes, from Conrad "Ignatz" Heiney:

The Halloween costume for women that I call the "Slutty Noun" outfit is now a topic of debate and outrage; I've been complaining about it for years. It's mainstreaming the sex industry, dragging women back into the Playboy Bunny past, and in poor taste. Yuck!
Last year I realized something worse. While the women dress as stereotyped available objects (nurse, catwoman, stripper outfits, little French maid, showgirls) the men have their own roles. They're pirates, soldiers, cops, horror movie murderers, Dracula, barbarian." These roles have something in common too: they're powerfully violent and often depicted assaulting women.
What's the message? Men are rapists and women are their victims. And now every year the men and women dress that way, go to parties and bars and get sloshed, and see what happens.
Anyone is free to explore sexuality and enjoy role-playing I don't like. In this case it would be less worrisome if any if these people knew what roles they were taking on and where that might go.

culture halloween sex society stereotypes 1


Blogging ambulanceman Tom Reynolds on the clichés found in TV drama, with an emphasis on medical drama:

I think that there are two reasons, first that TV producers think that viewers are stupid, secondly that the writers carry paintbrushes.
I remember, as a child, watching Rolf Harris on a Saturday afternoon creating works of art using 4" paintbrushes. Big sheet of paper, slopping the paint everywhere and then, as if by magic, a painting would appear.
Big tools, used well to create wonderfully subtle works of art.
Writers today also use those 4" brushes, but they use them not for portraits, but to paint walls. Huge strokes slabbered on with no finesse. Before I visited NBC's character biographies I could guess the characters 'personalities'. You'd have the maverick, the womaniser, the hard as nails female, the unsure rookie, the heartless administrator, the drinker/gambler/philanderer. The list goes on. Oh, and we must not forget the racially diverse cast of good looking people.
Look at those character types, you can see them appearing in pretty much every show.
And yes, 'Casualty' does still make me grind my teeth - 'blonde sexbomb'. 'joker', 'socially awkward nerd in glasses' who, in the their second episode tell us what their personalities are by talking to a psychiatrist. Next series I think they'll stop giving the characters names and instead they will instead walk around carrying placards with their character traits written on them.
Elsewhere in the post, he posits an updated version of Chekhov's Gun which applies to such shows:
'Chekhov's pregnancy' - 'If there is a heavily pregnant woman in the first act, she will get trapped in a lift/locked building/under rubble and will then give birth'. (Needless to say, on TV pregnant women race through the stages of labour in fifteen minutes, not the more normal twelve hours or so)

clichés drama hollywood stereotypes tv 0


Police in the UK are hunting a cranky old person who has been sending racially abusive letters, accompanied by clippings from the Daily Mail:

The letters, some sexually explicit in content, have been sent to schools, hospitals, mosques, universities, doctors' surgeries and private individuals, leaving some recipients "extremely distressed".
Similarities between the letters made it likely they had come from the same author. "The cursive script used in some of the letters indicates that it may be the writing of an older person. Repeat phrases used also indicate this, especially reference to 'working for 50 years' and regular reference to pensions."
Commonly used phrases in the text include "English parliament", "Exit Europe", "repatriation" and "BBC shutdown". Clippings from the Daily Mail have been included in many envelopes, which often also include cartoon drawings.
The hunt has been codenamed Operation Heron; it's not clear whether this is a Brass Eye reference.

daily mail psychoceramics racism rightwingers stereotypes uk 0


A study recently published in the Australasian Psychiatry journal has found correlations between musical preferences and a variety of mental illnesses and antisocial tendencies, and recommends that doctors ask their teenaged patients what sorts of music they listen to. The study, by Dr. Felicity Baker of the University of Queensland, is not online, but these articles contain various points from it. Among them:

  • There are associations between listening to heavy metal and suicidal ideation, depression and drug use, while both metal and trance, techno and "medieval music" are connected with self-harm (though, apparently, only when associated with the goth subculture). Outside of the goth subculture, it seems, dance music is just associated with drug use.
  • Different forms of rap/hip-hop are associated with different levels of criminality and delinquency, as well as violence and misogyny; apparently the worst is "French rap". I wouldn't have guessed that enough Australian teenagers would understand French well enough to get into the sound of les banlieues. Could it be that teenagers are learning French for the street cred?
  • Those who are into jazz tend to be misfits and loners (one could presumably call this the Howard Moon Effect?) Is jazz a big thing among today's teens, or did they lump in a whole bunch of non-pop/non-dance genres, like post-rock, krautrock, Balkan/klezmer/gypsy and nu-gazer, with jazz?

(via xrrf) culture mental health music psychology stereotypes 1


Yiddish spam titles. (Well, Yinglish, to be precise, but still amusing:)

Do shiksas heckle your schmeckel?

XXX ... Yenta noshes on pisher's trayf blintz! Hot!

Take this and you'll need another bris!

If they have the internet in the world of The Yiddish Policemen's Union, the mailboxes would probably be full of subject lines like these.

Also in McSweeney's Lists: Brews to Accessorise the Modern Hipster ("I Don't Really Like This but I'm Drinking It to Get Back at My Parents and/or Friends With an Overt and Crass Display of Being Cultured Lambic", "Rummage Sale Pale Ale"), and Phrases Commonly Used By 1950s Housewives That Were Often Misinterpreted As Blatant Requests For Sex.

(via McSweeney's) 1950s hipsters humour jewish mcsweeneys sex spam stereotypes yiddish 0


The Rudd government wants to overhaul Australia's image abroad, ditching the traditional images of bronzed Aussies drinking beer on beaches and cheesy strine colloquialisms like "where the bloody hell are you?", so favoured by the traditionalist former government, in favour of a new campaign promoting Australia as "a mature, creative, innovative society". (Those drawing parallels between Rudd and the early days of the Blair government in Britain will see echoes of Blair's "Cool Britannia" here.) Anyway, a number of ad agencies and magazines have had a go at coming up with ideas:

The Sydney Magazine approached a few advertising companies for inspiration. One of them came up with the slogan "Sydney. Proudly UnAustralian".. It features that great staple of Australian tourist brochures, the Sydney Opera House, but with a twist - it's white-tiled roof is emblazoned with the words "NO WAR" in bright red paint. Another image features two butch rugby players locked in a passionate embrace.
"Sydney, it's a bit like London. Classic Museums, Rich History, Hyde Park, Paddington, the Queen on Our Coin. It's just lacking the miserable weather, miserable people, pasty faces, snobby bitches, soggy chips, warm beer, cold winters, teens pushing prams, lager louts, slappers, geezers, madcow diseases."

australia culture war marketing stereotypes 1


New market research has revealed that Mac users are snobs, upper-income-bracket elitist aspirational types who see themselves as better than the PC-using rabble, while, seen from the other side, PC users are cheapskates.

Meanwhile, a filmmaker has made a documentary about the intense loyalty Maccies feel to their brand, which bears out some of the findings:

Violet Blue, a popular blogger and sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, who also features in the film, says: "First of all, I've never knowingly slept with a Windows users ... that would never, ever happen."
Anyway, back to the Mac-users-are-snobs thing: the description of the difference between Mac users and PC users reminded me a lot of (Mac user) Momus' recent paraphrasing of the right-wing anti-intellectual argument against liberal cosmopolitan elites:
The intellectual is not one of us. We are ordinary folks, he is a member of an elite. We gravitate around right wing ideas, he's left-leaning. We're family people, he screws men, women and children. We farm, he stays in the city, with his intellectual elite, or on campus, corrupting the minds of our youth. We're religious, but the intellectual is an unbeliever. We run to fat, he stays thin. We're patriots, he's a cosmopolitan, equally at home with foreigners as with his own kind. He puts loyalty to ideas before loyalty to his people. We have the church, he has the liberal media.
I'm wondering whether Microsoft or Dell or whoever didn't miss a trick in the few years after 9/11 when Americans (and, to a lesser extent, other Westerners) fell into a right-wing populist groupthink, dissociating themselves from straw-man liberalism. Perhaps, had they run ads playing on the stereotypes of Mac users as potentially disloyal rootless cosmopolitanists, they could have converted some Mac sales into sales of PCs and copies of Windows. After all, when your country's under siege, you don't want to be seen to be distancing yourself from your compatriots, however symbolically.

anti-intellectualism apple culture culture war mac maccies marketing microsoft stereotypes survival values the long siege you don't say? 3


Stuff White People Like ("white people" here meaning "white upper-middle-class Americans"). Includes entries for things like "sushi", "indie music" (and "standing still at concerts"), "Wes Anderson", "Michel Gondry", "Apple products" "not having a TV", "irony", "travelling", "coffee" and "tea", all delivered with a good dose of sarcasm:

So when white people go to concerts at smaller venues, what to do they do? They stand still! This is an important part of white concert going as it enables you to focus on the music, and it will prevent drawing excess attention to you. Remember, at a concert everyone is watching you just waiting for you to try to start dancing. Then they will make fun of you. The result is Belle and Sebastian concerts that essentially looks more like a disorganized line of people than a music event.
White people love to be near a body of water so they can read a book, while sitting nearby. The process of reading is somehow heightened through the process of doing it near some water. Extreme reading!
White people cannot get enough of 80s music, partially out of nostalgia, and partially since it was the last time that pop music wasn’t infused with hip-hop or R n’ B stylings. Artists like Joy Division, New Order and Elvis Costello were all pretty well respected and had solid runs at the charts. Also, less respected artists like Wham, Rick Astley and Cameo are still easy for white people to dance to.
If you find yourself in a situation with a white person, acceptable things to say include “I’m really into tea right now,” or “my favorite thing is to get a nice cup of tea and curl up in a chair with a good book.” But do not remind them about the role of colonialism in tea, it will make them feel sad.

(via Bowlie) class culture humour race sarcasm stereotypes whiteness 3


The latest commentator to attempt to nail the essence of Englishness is expatriate Frenchwoman Hortense de Monplaisir, currently resident off Fulham Road, as her husband is a grosse légume in the City:

There is a famous crêperie on the King’s Road. (We love crêpes, as we have kept in touch with simple pleasures.) As lumpen doughy pancakes were brought to the table with a pitiful garnish of anaemic lettuce and flavourless tomatoes, I wept. I gazed out at the rain and said: “I cannot do this.” My husband held my hand and looked quite wretched.
Having no talent for sex (or food), the English make a virtue of their deficiencies. What they really enjoy is going without. Rather than leave the office for a delicious lunch, they will pull out a Tupper-ware box of sandwiches. Instead of a soirée sensuelle, candlelit dinner followed by a night of love, they’ll go to the country to strip wallpaper, walk in the rain and sleep in a freezing cold bed.
In France, we are wary of the marchands de biens, dealers who buy and sell houses for profit, but in England everyone is a marchand de bien. The property ladder is the very essence of Englishness: a fusion of greedy profiteering and stay-at-home cosiness.

culture englishness frenchness stereotypes 1


As the Australian election approaches (capsule summary: the Tories look set to be wiped out, much as they did in the previous two elections), the ABC's Bob Ellis (presumably a leftwinger who evaded the purges) claims that Rupert Murdoch's polling organisation manipulates its own results by timing its polls, technically without actually doing anything fraudulent:

Newspoll is not called 'the Fox News of statistics' for nothing. Like Fox News, it serves Rupert Murdoch. Like Bill O'Reilly, it tells him what he wants to hear. And what does Rupert Murdoch want to hear? Well, that the voters are very volatile, for one thing. The Labor numbers go up to 58 before the Great Debate, then down to 54 after it. On the weekend when, in the greatest gatherings in human history, the West protests against the Iraq war, and it's known that most Australians oppose it, the vote for Howard goes up. When he's found to have lied about Children Overboard, the vote for Howard goes up. When Howard seems on his last legs, he gets the good news he needs. From Newspoll, the preferred Murdoch pollster.
And like Newspoll you ring no mobile phones, thus eliminating or minimising, the Labor-leaning, or Green-leaning, under-38s. Like Newspoll you ring homes on Friday night, when the under-38s aren't home, but the old, the ill, the friendless, the poor and the mad are, the Howard battlers, the Menzies limpets, the One Nation crazies in socks and sandals. And you make them one-third of your figure.
How is I know, or I suspect, this is what they do? Well, I noticed the Labor vote always plummets, according to Newspoll, at the beginning of the Christmas holidays, and soars at the end of them, and it has for the last ten years. Is this because people think of John Howard over the plum pudding and decide that they love him? No. It's because the Labor vote, or the prosperous, educated Labor vote, aren't home. They're at the Sydney Festival or on a boat on the Hawkesbury or in a hotel in Byron Bay or a pensione in Venice whereas the old, the ill, the friendless, the poor and the mad are at home, as usual, waiting for Newspoll to engage them in detailed conversation. And so it is the Labor vote goes down at Christmas, and up again after Australia Day.

(via The Poll Bludger) australia murdoch politics propaganda statistics stereotypes 0


There's an opinion piece in The Age's blogs about how the rest of the world is sick of travelling Australians, who, after long years of being regarded as lovable, are getting a reputation as the "New Yanks":

Firstly, we're suffering from a serious case of overexposure. The fact that Australia is so far away from anywhere else used to mean that not many of us made it to foreign shores. Now, not only do we have air travel, but we have extremely cheap air travel, meaning that any wanker who can manage to scrape together a few hundred dollars can go and prop up the tittie bar industry in Phuket for a week or so.
We're now seen as the arrogant, loud twats who complain when everything's different to how it is back home. Australians always had a reputation for liking a party, but now we're the obnoxious drunks, abusing the bar staff because their English sucks, whingeing that we'd kill for a Carlton Draught instead of this crap we're being forced to drink.
Though to be fair, crap Australian domestic beer is a notch above crap British domestic beer. A Carlton Draught or Toohey's may not compete with the best of the Czech Republic (or, for that matter, a pint of Samuel Smith's Old Brewery), though it's decidedly more drinkable than Carling (which has a monopoly on live music gigs over a certain size) or Foster's (which nobody in Australia actually drinks; much like various TV soaps, it's a product made primarily to be passed off to foreigners).

Another reason for Australia's declining image could be its politics. Whilst Australia has traditionally been such a minor player on the international stage to evade notice, the present government's determination to be a cheerleader for everything that pisses off liberals, from the Iraq war to blocking the Kyoto protocol, may have created an impression of Australia as the Big Red State Down Under. And then there is the rise of a rather ugly strain of muscular nationalism among young Australians these days (witness all the flag-waving, the stereotyped chants of "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi" — incidentally, is there a more aggressively mindless national slogan anywhere? — and other generally boorish behaviour), which may be a cultural artefact of the Howard Culture War and the vanquishment of the more thoughtful (if sometimes woolly) liberal/cosmopolitan Whitlamite values of the previous few decades by an atavistic right-wing jingoism — the values of idiot certainty backed with force.

But yes, here in London, the stereotype of an Australian about town seems to involve drinking vodka by the bottle, cracking onto every available-looking female, talking loudly about how much everything is better in God's Own Country, and passing out in one's own vomit in the gutter outside Walkabout at 3am.

Meanwhile, readers have posted their own anecdotes about Ugly Australians to the article:

As an aussie living in London, I find nothing more embarassing than walking past the pub on my local high street (the slug and lettuce in fulham for any fellow londonites- aka the 'sl*ts and legless') where any night of the week you'll find it packed by 8pm with slaughtered aussies singing along to ac/dc, bryan adams or - way too frequently- country roads drinking snakebite and black (lager, cider and blackcurrant cordial). You'll also find the aussie bar maids and mates will stand up on the bar with their tops off on regular occassions. And people wonder why we're getting a bad rep abroad...?
I agree completely... My friend from Montreal started calling us 'pigeons' because we are everywhere... not that like the comparison but I would have to agree with him.
As I read this article I was having flashbacks of living in the Lakes District and attending an Australians-only party (shows how good we really are at assimilating). One of the head honcho Aussie jocks was running around the village with an Australian flag draped over his shoulders and a plush crocodile under an arm, shouting 'Crikey!' to the unimpressed townsfolk.
As a long-term Londoner I have to fully agree with Damien that John Howard has done more to harm the image of Australians than any drunk in Earl's Court or Shepherd's Bush. He has made Australia so isolated with his unquestioning (and unthinking) blind allegiance to Gerorge W. and his attacks on basic human rights that Europeans now believe that Australians care about nobody but themselves. Until you guys vote John Howard out and rejoin the rest of the world nobody wants you!
Which reminds me of a joke I heard. There's a Londoner, an Australian and a South African having a drink in a pub. The Australian finishes his drink, throws his glass in the air, pulls out a gun and shoots it. "In Australia, the lucky country, we're so rich from our natural resources, we never need to drink from the same glass twice", he says. The South African finishes his drink, throws his glass in the air and shoots it. "In Sarth Efriker, we're so rich from our diamond mines, we never need to drink from the same glass twice", he says.

Then the Londoner finishes his drink, and says, "in London, we've got so many Australians and South Africans, we never need to drink with the same ones twice." And with that, he pulls out a gun and shoots them.

australia bogans culture culture war dickheads jingoism nationalism stereotypes 2


In Australia, the Pom Anti-Defamation League has succeeded in getting a beer advertising campaign pulled that negatively stereotyped the English. The campaign in question, for Toohey's, played on negative stereotypes of the English ("Poms") as inveterate complainers with a phobia of cold beer, and apparently did so a bit too mean-spiritedly:

The radio advertisement for Tooheys brewery and its New Supercold beer employed a group of Englishmen to sing the tune of Land of Hope and Glory using various synonyms for whinge, including whine, moan, slag and complain.
His group also contested another version of the advert that had been made for television audiences. It featured footage of an overweight, pale man, wearing a Union Jack T-shirt, cringing in fear at the offer of a cold beer. The advert was withdrawn before the action against it could proceed.
The Tooheys advertising campaign was also connected to these advertisements on Sydney buses.

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Writing in the Graun, comedian Stewart Lee examines the foundations of the stereotype that the Germans don't have a sense of humour; he finds that it comes from the structure of the German language making certain types of humorous devices impossible:

At a rough estimate, half of what we find amusing involves using little linguistic tricks to conceal the subject of our sentences until the last possible moment, so that it appears we are talking about something else. For example, it is possible to imagine any number of British stand-ups concluding a bit with something structurally similar to the following, "I was sitting there, minding my own business, naked, smeared with salad dressing and lowing like an ox ... and then I got off the bus." We laugh, hopefully, because the behaviour described would be inappropriate on a bus, but we had assumed it was taking place either in private or perhaps at some kind of sex club, because the word "bus" was withheld from us.
But German will not always allow you to shunt the key word to the end of the sentence to achieve this failsafe laugh. After spending weeks struggling with the rigours of the German language's far less flexible sentence structures to achieve the endless succession of "pull back and reveals" that constitute much English language humour, the idea of our comedic superiority soon begins to fade. It is a mansion built on sand.
The German phenomenon of compound words also serves to confound the English sense of humour. In English there are many words that have double or even triple meanings, and whole sitcom plot structures have been built on the confusion that arises from deploying these words at choice moments. Once again, German denies us this easy option. There is less room for doubt in German because of the language's infinitely extendable compound words. In English we surround a noun with adjectives to try to clarify it. In German, they merely bolt more words on to an existing word. Thus a federal constitutional court, which in English exists as three weak fragments, becomes Bundesverfassungsgericht, a vast impregnable structure that is difficult to penetrate linguistically, like that Nazi castle in Where Eagles Dare. The German language provides fully functional clarity. English humour thrives on confusion.
(The last part also nicely demonstrates something else mentioned in the raft of German-themed articles in today's Graun: the English tendency to associate Germany with Nazis. But I digress.)
Third, for the smutty British comic writers, it seemed difficult to find a middle-ground between scientifically precise language describing sexual and bodily functions, and outright obscenity. There seemed to be no nuanced, nudge-nudge no-man's land, where English comic sensibilities and German logic could meet on Christmas Day and kick around a few dirty jokes in a cheeky, Carry On-style way. A German theatre director explained that this was because the Germans did not find the human body smutty or funny, due to all attending mixed saunas from an early age.
And here is a survey of German television comedy programming. It includes knockoffs of British and American shows, character-driven sketch shows, as well as more conceptual programming, such as the show that once broadcast 20 minutes of silence with the lights out.

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A writer has worked out the 25 unwritten rules of advertising:

1. Men are obsessed with sex but will forego sex in order to watch football or drink beer.
2. Women are locked in a constant battle with their weight/body shape/hairstyle.
13. Both men and women find driving deeply pleasurable, never boring or stressful.
14. Men are inherently lazy/slobbish; women are the reverse.
15. Chocolate, however, will cause women to immediately fall into the languor of the opium eater.
19. Professional people have strangely trivial preoccupations, e.g. a female barrister who is morbidly obsessed with finding a healthy snack bar.
23. Women never merely hop in and out of the shower, instead preferring to act out some sort of soapy Dance of the Seven Veils.

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Several matrices describing what different European tribes think of each other; taken from this vaguely cocaine-tinged piece from eXile (which is sort of like a Moscow-based VICE).

And then there's How To Find A Man In Europe And Leave Him There, an American girl's guide to European men, loaded with facile stereotypes (not least of all being that of its intended target audience).

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Gwen Stefani, that Madonna of major-label pop-punk, has taken a liking to Japanese teen street fashion. And, being a savvy commodified-rebellion entrepreneur, she has appropriated this phenomenon and redigested it into a commercially viable cliché, by hiring four Asian women to dress like Harajuku hipsters and follow her around, contractually prohibited from speaking anything but Japanese:

They shadow her wherever she goes. They're on the cover of the album, they appear behind her on the red carpet, she even dedicates a track, "Harajuku Girls," to them. In interviews, they silently vogue in the background like living props; she, meanwhile, likes to pretend that they're not real but only a figment of her imagination. They're ever present in her videos and performances -- swabbing the deck aboard the pirate ship, squatting gangsta style in a high school gym while pumping their butts up and down, simpering behind fluttering hands or bowing to Stefani. That's right, bowing. Not even from the waist, but on the ground in a "we're not worthy, we're not worthy" pose. She's taken Tokyo hipsters, sucked them dry of all their street cred, and turned them into China dolls.
Stefani fawns over harajuku style in her lyrics, but her appropriation of this subculture makes about as much sense as the Gap selling Anarchy T-shirts; she's swallowed a subversive youth culture in Japan and barfed up another image of submissive giggling Asian women. While aping a style that's suppose to be about individuality and personal expression, Stefani ends up being the only one who stands out.

The article in question goes on to excoriate other Western stereotypes of Japanese culture, from Tarantino's killer schoolgirl to Peter Carey's confession of cluelessness, "Wrong About Japan".

(via tyrsalvia) commodification gwen stefani harajuku stereotypes 1


A look at the stigma attached to women keeping cats. After all, everybody knows that people who keep cats are emotional basketcases; normal, healthy people either keep dogs (a proper, well-adjusted person's pet) or fish (which are more of a hobby than a pet) or don't need the emotional crutch of keeping animals:

Supposedly, to look into the female singleton's trolley is to gaze upon human despair in its purest form. The meals-for-one, the glossy magazines shrieking their self-help messages so loudly people three aisles away can hear, those furtive bars of high-quality chocolate brought as a substitute for the low-quality sex they were having before they decided enough was enough. All these items could be exhibited as evidence in the socio-emotional kangaroo courts that even today persist in judging the solitary female as worthless and hopeless simply because she is mate-less. However, the real clincher is the six-pack of top-of-the-range cat food. A kilo of heroin couldn't be more socially incriminating.
Militantly anti-cat Melanie Reid wrote recently; "Feminism has been blamed for many things but there is no doubt that it is also partly responsible for the rise of the cat."
It's very easy to deal with boyfriends who complain you treat your cat better than you do them. Just say: "Once you've produced evidence that an ancient civilisation worshipped you, then perhaps we'll talk." It could even be argued that some men end up being very poor cat substitutes. ("I just couldn't meet the right cat so I decided to have a relationship instead.")

The article also has a list of famous cat-haters, including William Shakespeare and King Louis XIV. They left John Ashcroft off the list.

Btw, what about men who keep/prefer cats; are we they also considered to be psychological liabilities, or perhaps cat-fanciers are Not Real Men (see also: vegetarians, Belle & Sebastian fans, non-followers of sports teams)?

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What would a car designed by women for women be like? Possibly something like a new Volvo concept car, with ponytail ports in the headrests, easily removable non-shrink seat covers and no bonnet:

The project team thought women would never want to look at the engine, so the front end is designed to come off in one piece at the workshop.
Suggestions that did not make the cut included an on-board cappuccino maker and foot supports for high-heeled shoes.

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Film critic Lawrie Zion on the malaise afflicting recent Australian film; in particular, about recent films sticking to the theme of true-blue-dinky-di-Aussie-battlers vs. the evil forces of change:

What makes the recent Australian crop distinctive, however, is the way that even relatively sophisticated fare such as The Bank resorts to a one-dimensional character when it brings on its American villain. Accordingly, Anthony La Paglia, who gave us such a refreshingly understated performance in Lantana (2001), is reduced to a cardboard cut-out portrayal of slimy greed in The Bank. By contrast, the key American character in The Dish, played by Patrick Warburton, is given a chance to establish himself as a fully developed character, which not only provides the film with a less blinkered view of national "types", but also allows its "culture clash" moment to become something more interesting than a showdown between good and evil.
More troubling, still, with films such as Take Away is the way that Australians themselves are portrayed on the screen as naive and dim survivors of a laconic but cloistered culture that simply can't deal with change (though some might argue that this is a very accurate description of Australia in 2003).

Underdog motif or not, I can't recall having seen a recent Australian film where the characters weren't one-dimensional caricatures. More often than not, the actors (some of whom are footballers, comedians or both) ham up their performance, exaggerating the characters. Sometimes you even see them mugging at the camera after letting loose what they think is a devastatingly witty one-liner, as if giving the drongos in the audience the cue to laugh. It seems like so many Australian films are the bastard offspring of Hey Dad and the 10BA tax dodge.

Even in films which do not descend to this nadir, the film is usually slathered in Miracle Ingredient A, using its Australianness to sell an otherwise conventional story and one-dimensional characterisation to audiences looking for an alternative, however shoddy, to the McWorld monoculture from Hollywood. (Which is not unlike the plot of a recent Australian comedy, in fact, but I digress.) They don't see the films for quality, except in the "see, our sets/cinematography/special effects can be every bit as technically slick as American movies" sense, but for Australianness.

Which makes me wonder why Australia doesn't produce filmmakers like Canada (which gave us Vincenzo "Cypher" Natali and David Cronenberg) or Britain (too many to name). Surely it can't be a lack of talent. Perhaps the local market just doesn't encourage such innovation at anything above the Tropfest level?

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Today's Onion has some great stories, including No One Makes It To Burning Man, Horrified Teen Stumbles Upon Divorced Mom's Personal Ad (heh!), and the very insightful Graphic Artist Carefully Assigns Ethnicities to Anthropomorphic Recyclables:

Added Bellisle: "That brings another problem to light: If you include one woman in the mix, no one cares what race she is. As if one female recycling drum can represent female recycling drums of all races, but male recyclables deserve further distinction."
Drawing friendly, nondescript male characters is not the answer, said Bellisle. "Look at this grinning soda can giving the thumbs-up here," she said. "Everyone subconsciously assumes it's a Caucasian male."
"I have no idea how to make the plastic milk jug look gay," Bellisle said. "I don't want to make him a bottle of water, for obvious reasons. Maybe I'll use a soy-milk container when I draw the gay jug. Or maybe they'll let me switch him with the Chicano, this tin can here.

Unfortunately, though, the Onion seem to have switched their system so that the URLs of stories become invalid after the current week, thus reducing their bloggability. Which sucks.

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Anti-virus consultancy Sophos Plc has released a profile of virus writers: they are male, obsessed with computers, 14-34, and chronically lacking a girlfriend. (via Techdirt)

(It also looks like another instance of the assumption that anyone who isn't usually in a sexual relationship is some sort of sociopathic freak. Soon not having a girlfriend will be probable cause for search and seizure. Hey, the 9/11 hijackers didn't have girlfriends either.)

(And shouldn't that be "chronically lacking a girlfriend or an interest in comic books/record collecting/trainspotting"?)

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From my SpamCop filter:

[5028] (You're someone's American Idol _Preview_ )

That's funny, because last time I checked, I wasn't American.

That's one of the annoying things about spam; other than assuming that you're a financially bankrupt sexually depraved narcissist, most of it assumes that you're (a) American, or (b) fluent in Spanish, Chinese or Korean. I suppose if someone's already a bottom-feeding scumbag, there's no point in them weeding out the obviously inappropriate addresses. After all, it's not like it's their own network bandwidth they're wasting. Hell, why not? Who says there isn't at least one gullible Sino-Argentino-American pornhound somewhere in the .aq domain?

Oh, and if you're the one who has been submitting my address to those "someone has a crush on you" websites, don't bother; I don't feed them. (Given that they're a scam for harvesting email addresses for spamming, for one.) (In fact, if you've developed a crush on someone just by reading their blog, I suggest that you see your mental health professional.)

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If one good thing was to come out of the (alleged) current anti-French mood in the US it would be that Marcel guy in Linux Journal toning down his corny "French chef" act. Though, as of the "March 2003" issue, it doesn't seem to have happened.

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European journalist Timothy Garton Ash's survey of anti-Europeanism in America; Europeans are seen as "EU-nuchs" or "cheese-eating surrender monkeys"; cowardly, amoral, godless, unprincipled, weak, effeminate, petulant, hypocritical, anti-Semitic, of poor personal hygiene and monumentally ungrateful for America constantly saving their asses: (via Graham)

A study should be written on the sexual imagery of these stereotypes. If anti-American Europeans see "the Americans" as bullying cowboys, anti-European Americans see "the Europeans" as limp-wristed pansies... The sexual imagery even creeps into a more sophisticated account of AmericanEuropean differences, in an already influential Policy Review article by Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace entitled "Power and Weakness."[3] "Americans are from Mars," writes Kagan approvingly, "and Europeans are from Venus"echoing that famous book about relations between men and women, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.
Anti-Americanism and anti-Europeanism are at opposite ends of the political scale. European anti-Americanism is mainly to be found on the left, American anti-Europeanism on the right. The most outspoken American Euro-bashers are neoconservatives using the same sort of combative rhetoric they have habitually deployed against American liberals. In fact, as Jonah Goldberg himself acknowledged to me, "the Europeans" are also a stalking-horse for liberals. So, I asked him, was Bill Clinton a European? "Yes," said Goldberg, "or at least, Clinton thinks like a European."

(Meanwhile, Tony Blair is seen as a honorary American, or at least as a member of the US State Department, and trying to tow Britain across the Atlantic, as it were. Already the renowned New Labour spin doctors who created "Cool Brittannia" are working with the Whitehouse to sell "Brand USA" to a skeptical (and Europeanised) British public. The modest proposal of a few years back that Britain leave the EU and join the United States is looking somewhat less absurd.)

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Read: The curse of coffee-table cinema, or how thanks to Disney's Miramax unit, much of "art-house" cinema is now formulaic, content-free soft-focus schmaltz designed to flatter viewers' sense of culture in a mindless sort of way.

Miramax has given the world a host of cliches about European culture - naughty French priests, macho Greeks, hoity-toity Englishmen, zany Italians - and has reduced human complexity to a bunch of hopeless stereotypes bursting with sentiment.

(See also: Working Title, Merchant Ivory) (via FmH)

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An interesting article about the next generation of female hackers, and how they are challenging stereotypes (like the ones which say that they don't exist, or that they're all web designers or somesuch):

Gweeds, one of Marcelo's male hacker friends, confirms this. He wants to see more women hackers, and he tells me excitedly about an all-female-authored distribution of the operating system Linux called Cervix. "I like the idea of Cervix, because it says that girls can do this," he added. "It's like an all-girl band."


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Amusing quote from NME: "Despite the lingering suspicion that they make music solely for graphic designers, Goldfrapp's art-hop is undeniably enchanting." (Actually, I do know one graphic designer who has the Goldfrapp album.)

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