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Stereotype

“The other half —the deeper meaning— lies in what is not being said, but is being fantasized, what is implied but cannot be shown.”
—Stuart Hall

In order to understand the world we need ‘type’, since, by referring to individual objects, people or events we can fit them into the general classificatory schemes in our heads. When it concern the typing of persons, Stuart Hall presents the argumentation that Richard Dyer gives in his essay ‘Stereotyping’ (1977):

“We order [a person] in terms of personality type […]. Our picture of who the person ‘is’ is built up out of the information we accumulate from positioning him/her within these different orders of typification [i.e. age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual preferences and so on, ed.]. In broad terms, then, ‘a type is any simple, vivid, memorable, easily grasped and widely recognized characterization in which a few traits are foregrounded and change or “development” is kept to a minimum.’” (Dyer, 1977,p.28, in Hall, 2003, p.257)

What makes this description above different from stereotyping is that, basically, “Stereotyping reduces people to a few, simple, essential characteristics as fixed by Nature” (Hall, 2003, p.257). Stereotypes get hold of the ‘type’ and reduce everything about this person to those traits, exaggerate and simplify them, and fix them without change or development to eternity. But stereotypes not only reduces people to a fixed, simple and essential characteristics, but it also connects the ‘real’ to the imagined. Hall: “The other half —the deeper meaning— lies in what is not being said, but is being fantasized, what is implied but cannot be shown.” (Hall, 1997, p.263)

When stereotyping tends to happen it is mostly in a situation that has a gross inequalities of power. Power in the context of representation is usually directed against the excluded, the subordinate, the counter or abnormal. When one is in power it can apply the norm of ones own culture onto the other culture. The activity of stereotyping divides the normal from the abnormal. Stereotyping fixes boundaries and excludes everything that does not belong.