I love stereotypes and I always have. That sounds like an awful thing to admit, but really it’s not. Because you’re the same way. For some reason, an affinity for stereotypes is human nature. Our species craves a feeling of comprehension about our environment, which gives us a sense of control. Even if it’s false control. If that sounds true and profound to you, it’s because it is; I got it off a science website. But like all people who mean well most of the time (I’ll tell you when I don’t mean well: WHEN I’M IN A ROOM FULL OF CHOCOLATE!!!) my instinctive enjoyment of stereotypes is a beast I try mightily to run off, the way White Fang’s owner tried to run him off with lies about him not wanting White Fang around anymore. Same deal. Because if you indulge too much in stereotypical thinking, you begin to subconsciously believe stereotypes define the world. Then you consciously believe it. And then you wake up one day and find you’re a crazy person who clings to his guns and religion who believes all San Franciscans are gay communists. Or you wake up and realize you’re a gay communist San Franciscan who thinks all religious gun owners are crazy. Sure, right, all San Franciscans are gay communists. Right. What’s the real number? 60%? If that?
But stereotypes are fun. I don’t know why, but they’re funny and gratifying. Think about what comedians do. Mostly, they play on stereotypes. What’s your favorite tv show? It uses a lot of stereotypes, and if you think about it, that’s part of the reason you enjoy it.
Take this guy for example.
Why is that so delicious? Sure, there is something funny about a person who attends a convention about nerdy video games like World of Warcraft, but what’s really great about this is that the guy asking the question is exactly who you want him to be.
Most of us belong to one group or another that is commonly stereoptyped. I am a white American Mormon male. All four of those have associated stereotypes held by other groups, although the Mormon one is probably the strongest. I remember when I told an evangelical friend I was Mormon, she looked at me like I had admitted to marrying her grandma. Utter horror. But I guess that means she didn’t have me pegged as the stereotypical Mormon before that, so maybe that’s good.
Hi, I’m Mormon
Anyway, my latest episode of having a fun stereotype confirmed happened last week. I was listening to NPR. I like NPR a lot. The tone leans a touch to the left, and Meee-chelle Norris reveals a bit too much by her shaky voice and five-times-more-aggressive-than-usual follow up questions when discussing Sarah Palin or the Tea Party, but the content is always interesting.
So, for Halloween they were doing a piece on real live Witches who belong to the Neopagan religion Wicca. I found it very compelling. I listened to various wiccans being interviewed. Then there was a Wiccan High Priestess talking about something or other, and at the end of her comment the narrator said her name. Margot Adler. That caught my attention. “Isn’t there an NPR reporter named Margot Adler? I’m sure there is, but it must be a coincidence.” No coincidence. Same Margot Adler. Not sure why I didn’t see it before. Her name is Margot, she works for NPR, she has that very slight lisp that so many highly-educated urban liberals have, and she looks like this:
Of course Margot Adler is Wiccan.