Sunday, April 25, 2010

Based on a False Story

Stereotypes are like a fast food restaurant—
you know what to expect.
What should we watch tonight? I dunno, do you feel like watching a doctor show, a lawyer show, or a cop show? Really, that's all that's on TV anymore. I could go into an extensive list, but I'll spare you. You know what I mean. And outside those, we only have reality TV, which is perhaps more fake than the fiction.

You could argue that doctors, lawyers, and cops are a part of our contemporary life, and therefore a part of the culture thereof. This is a fair argument, but allow me to ask: how often do you associate with these professions? Unless you work in one of those three fields, have a medical condition, or are a criminal, you likely don't enter that world. So why the media coverage, and at what cost?

To the best of my understanding, these jobs are famous for providing wealth, authority, and/or other resources like connections. Doctors and cops (especially detectives and FBI agents) are seen mostly as altruistic, while lawyers are stereotypically divided into defense lawyers (evil) and prosecutors (good). In my opinion, this is too black and white.

Basically, I'm saying that these characters are chosen because they're easy to use when trying to connect with a broad audience. Stereotypes are like a fast food restaurant—you know what to expect. This isn't bad in moderation, but it should never be a significant part of your diet. Unfortunately, the same problem applies to both industries. In body food, as in mind food, people consume too much junk.

These character types pretend to be based upon human experience, but are in fact, increasingly based upon previous works of fiction. When the system doesn't reward originality, writers get lazy (we're human, too). It is far easier to build upon what has already been done than it is to do the real research necessary to create one's own solid foundation.

So what is the cost? Lies based upon lies, sold to us as truth. Most people are too busy to know how to identify these lies anymore. If you stick to a single medium for your information, you have no frame of reference.

A balanced diet never hurt anyone.
FEATURED MEDIA: Super Size Me - Not what I usually promote, but nevertheless a worthwhile documentary. A surprisingly entertaining film, Super Size Me follows filmmaker Morgan Spurlock on a 30 day all-McDonald's bender—with health results that stunned even his doctor.

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