Annoying Stereotypes and Devices in TV, Film, and Writing

In summary: It was found by someone with a hex editor.In summary, the conversation discussed the use of stereotypes and story devices in different forms of fiction, such as film, television, and video games. Specifically, the participants talked about how the portrayal of women and people of color can be annoying and lack depth or purpose in the story. They also touched on the issue of nudity in video games and how it can be modded by third parties, leading to an increase in the game's rating. There was also mention of a female author who worked on a fantasy RPG and the discussion of morality choices in video games.
  • #1
TheStatutoryApe
296
4
I think the title is pretty well says it. What are the stereotypes and story devices used in fiction of any variety including film, television, writing, ect that you find to be annoying?

I have been watching the first season of the show Fringe and it has reminded me of just how much screams annoy me. It seems that the writers think any woman exposed to something strange and ghastly is likely to scream hysterically... sorry, likely is probably too soft. Commanded by their very biological nature is probably more accurate. Ladies? What do you think?


While thinking on the subject I also noted that the "token black guy" is sort of annoying too (not in reference to Fringe). Watching a movie or tv show with an all white cast except for that one black guy who really adds nothing to the story, you never even learn much of anything about, and is obviously just thrown in for colour really kinda bothers me.


So how about the rest of you?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
That's not about movies and stereotypes, but close. I am playing Oblivion (the Elder Scrolls) now, and political correctness of the game is killing part of the fun. Every second bandit, every second mercenary and every second smith is a woman.

When you kill someone you can take her/his clothes/armor. All woman have some kind of bra on them. In the inner workings of the game - which are not visible to the player -body of the female characters has all necessary details, which are later covered with underwear. And you know what? Fact, that such things just exist in the data files was enough to raise game rating to M:

The pertinent content causing the change in the ESRB rating involves more detailed depictions of blood and gore than were considered in the original rating of the game (the game already carried a Blood and Gore content descriptor), as well as the presence in the PC version of the game of a locked-out art file that, if accessed by using an apparently unauthorized third party tool, allows the user to play the game with topless versions of female characters.

Trick is, using "unauthorized third party tools" you can do with the game whatever you want (see - and no, that's not how the usual gameplay looks alike :wink: this is not this type of the game, much more like ).
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #3
Well a lot of ladies are playing games now too. Maybe that's it. You actually reminded me that one of the authors I read, Naomi Novik, actually worked on the programming team for a fantasy rpg. I thought it may have been Oblivion but I just checked and apparently it was Neverwinter Nights. Her bio also says that she apparently grew up on Polish fairy tales, just an interesting side note.

I do understand though what you mean about the over kill.

The only video game issue I can think of right now is from rpg like games where you are supposed to choose between good and evil. The concepts of good and evil and their motivations are really rather lame in most cases. Particularly the evil ones. I find myself playing good because the evil options always seem just so plain stupid that I don't want to do them.
 
  • #4
Borek said:
That's not about movies and stereotypes, but close. I am playing Oblivion (the Elder Scrolls) now, and political correctness of the game is killing part of the fun. Every second bandit, every second mercenary and every second smith is a woman.

When you kill someone you can take her/his clothes/armor. All woman have some kind of bra on them. In the inner workings of the game - which are not visible to the player -body of the female characters has all necessary details, which are later covered with underwear. And you know what? Fact, that such things just exist in the data files was enough to raise game rating to M:
Trick is, using "unauthorized third party tools" you can do with the game whatever you want (see - and no, that's not how the usual gameplay looks alike :wink: this is not this type of the game, much more like ).


I'm also a long time player of this game, and heavily involved in its modding. Just about any video game can be modded for nudity with third party applications. This is old news and Bethesda can't but roll their eyes. There really isn't much they can do to thwart it entirely if they're going to allow modding to happen at all, which is a staple for these games now. There are well over 17,000 mods for Oblivion floating around that add greatly to the game in every way. But of course with that comes the caveat of the nature of all software in general, and we can only resign to that fact.

http://pc.ign.com/articles/704/704834p1.html
ign said:
There is no nudity in Oblivion without a third party modification. In the PC version of the game only - this doesn't apply to the Xbox 360 version - some modders have used a third party tool to hack into and modify an art archive file to make it possible to create a mesh for a partially nude (topless) female that they add into the game. Bethesda didn't create a game with nudity and does not intend that nudity appear in Oblivion. There is no nude female character in a section of the game that can be "unlocked." Bethesda can not control tampering with Oblivion by third parties. Bethesda is taking steps to ensure that modders can not continue to hack into Oblivion's art archives to create partially nude figures.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #5
To clarify the reportedly "locked" nude file:
PepeGSay said:
In the case of Oblivion there is a texture that represents boobies... in other words the same texture as the men except some dark pixels in one place for shading and a cluster of dark pixels in another for a nipple. That texture is used for nothing in the game except to provide shape to what lays over it, just like they do when real people are fully clothed.
But anyway, the ESRB became much more concerned over the blood and gore. It all comes down to a communication problem where Bethesda went over the submission requirements, and yet with thousands of data files, and some subjectivity as like in this case, these misinterpretations are inevitable.
 
  • #6
TheStatutoryApe said:
The only video game issue I can think of right now is from rpg like games where you are supposed to choose between good and evil. The concepts of good and evil and their motivations are really rather lame in most cases. Particularly the evil ones. I find myself playing good because the evil options always seem just so plain stupid that I don't want to do them.

In Oblivion to some extent you can be at the same time on both sides :smile: But I know what you are writing about.

I feel like rpg games are becoming less challenging these days. In most cases once I have some active quest, it is not about using brain to solve it, but just follow pointers. If I am told to find someone or something, in 90% of cases position is just marked on the map, so gameplay becomes automatic. I suppose it is just a way of preparing game that can be bought and played by Joe Nobraincells.

Speaking of annoying stereotypes and stupid evil enemies... Have you seen The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord?

Oh, and one of the things I hate in movies is when 5 seconds lasts 5 minutes.
 
  • #7
The top button buttoned stereotype in movies and TV shows.

I don't think it matches anything in the real world (although I couldn't say for sure).

It isn't necessary. "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" worked perfectly fine without resorting to the top button.

In fact, I think PF memebers should have a "Button your top button" day just to destroy the stereotype.
 
  • #8
All Brits are not evil super villains (although apparently all evil super villains are Brits)
 
  • #9
While thinking on the subject I also noted that the "token black guy" is sort of annoying too (not in reference to Fringe). Watching a movie or tv show with an all white cast except for that one black guy who really adds nothing to the story, you never even learn much of anything about, and is obviously just thrown in for colour really kinda bothers me.
I hate that too. And sometimes they'll make him seem like the most racist person on the planet that everyone just tolerates and/or laughs off what he says.
Why don't they just make him a normal guy? He doesn't have to have some outlandish attitude just to stand out.
I know sometimes they make him the comic relief, but most of the time it's not funny.
Oh, and one of the things I hate in movies is when 5 seconds lasts 5 minutes.
What I hate even more than that is when someone has to disarm a bomb; how often do they finally disarm it with 1 second left? Almost every time. Some of them even have milliseconds, so they get down to .02 or something incredibly small like that.
 
  • #10
leroyjenkens said:
What I hate even more than that is when someone has to disarm a bomb; how often do they finally disarm it with 1 second left? Almost every time. Some of them even have milliseconds, so they get down to .02 or something incredibly small like that.
Recent episode of NCIS (or something) they are on a training course and the 'bomb' goes off with 00:17 on the display - because 'the bad guys watch the movies too' according to the instructor.

Why the bad guys bother to fit a display to the bomb isn't clear.
 
  • #11
mgb_phys said:
Why the bad guys bother to fit a display to the bomb isn't clear.
That is a ridiculous plot device, as is the simplistic "Which wire to cut? Red or Blue?" The bad guys build an electrically-triggered bomb with a count-down display, AND color-code the wiring. Sure.
 
  • #12
Borek said:
I feel like rpg games are becoming less challenging these days. In most cases once I have some active quest, it is not about using brain to solve it, but just follow pointers. If I am told to find someone or something, in 90% of cases position is just marked on the map, so gameplay becomes automatic. I suppose it is just a way of preparing game that can be bought and played by Joe Nobraincells.

Speaking of annoying stereotypes and stupid evil enemies... Have you seen The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord?

Oh, and one of the things I hate in movies is when 5 seconds lasts 5 minutes.
I do not play rpgs very much (used to play table top rpgs a lot though). More action rpgs which tend to be easier. I prefer adventure puzzle games. Tomb Raider and the like. I assume you play computer games? Good ones I have played were: Safecracker, which is mostly just a collection of puzzles made to be lock mechanisms for safes but its a neat game; Return to Mysterious Island 2, based on a Jules Verne story with some basic science elements to the puzzles neat but not particularly challenging done in a Myst like style; and The Experiment, which I have only played a small part of its main interest is the manner of play, you are a person watching through security camera feeds attempting to direct the main character to solve puzzles.

Popular games have certainly gotten much easier. Almost all of the newer PS3 games I have played you do not die very easily, recover miraculously, and anyone helping you is practically invincible. Not like older games where you had a stupid AI partner who would run out into the middle of a fire fight and die on you more often than they would be of any real help. I have actually read several reviews that lament the loss of older more difficult games. I remember cursing games for how hard they were and now I sort of miss it.


BobG said:
The top button buttoned stereotype in movies and TV shows.

I don't think it matches anything in the real world (although I couldn't say for sure).

It isn't necessary. "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" worked perfectly fine without resorting to the top button.

In fact, I think PF memebers should have a "Button your top button" day just to destroy the stereotype.
I am unsure exactly what you are referring to. You mean geeks (particularly of the anal retentive sort) that button their shirt all the way to the top?


leroyjenkens said:
I hate that too. And sometimes they'll make him seem like the most racist person on the planet that everyone just tolerates and/or laughs off what he says.
Why don't they just make him a normal guy? He doesn't have to have some outlandish attitude just to stand out.
I know sometimes they make him the comic relief, but most of the time it's not funny.
I have been watching old episodes of Doogie Howser MD lately. They have that episode where they meet the gang banger kid and he later comes back and gets a job at the hospital. Its sort of stereotypical but they at least gave him a story and something to relate to if only in a very after-school-special sort of way.
One of my favourite shows was Hustle (BBC) with a main character, Micky Bricks, who was a "token black guy" but not in the stereotypical sense. He was just a guy who happened to be black. He had a story and a real role in the series. He was actually my favourite character.
I do remember watching A Different World back when and having the same reaction to the "token white girl".
In the new Battlestar Galactica I noticed that they had a good mix in the ships crew. Enterprise had the one black guy who was "a good kid who grew up with a hard life and made something of himself", stereotypical cheesy story devices being par for the course with Star Trek series though. Heroes was almost painful with the way they stretched out to include people from all over the world: Japan, Haiti, South America, India, and even a good mix from all over the US.. I could forgive it.

turbo-1 said:
That is a ridiculous plot device, as is the simplistic "Which wire to cut? Red or Blue?" The bad guys build an electrically-triggered bomb with a count-down display, AND color-code the wiring. Sure.
One of these that really gets me is "the lecturer", usually an older scientist or academic who happens to know every arcane bit of knowledge relevant to the plot line who takes a time out to explain to the audience/reader exactly what they need to know to understand what is going on at a rather contrived moment. Something that happens a lot in Fringe for example. And then the opposite! When a character has figured something out but "No! There's no time to explain!"
 
  • #13
turbo-1 said:
That is a ridiculous plot device, as is the simplistic "Which wire to cut? Red or Blue?"
There is also the way that if you lift the lid of the suspicous package slowly enough it won't go off.

One of the local search and rescue guys explained something similar, people are now convinced that any car running off the road will immediately explode into flames. After even a minor car+ditch encounter the passengers immediately leap from the car and run away.
Apparently cars only started exploding with the introduction of color TV!
 
  • #14
mgb_phys said:
There is also the way that if you lift the lid of the suspicous package slowly enough it won't go off.

One of the local search and rescue guys explained something similar, people are now convinced that any car running off the road will immediately explode into flames. After even a minor car+ditch encounter the passengers immediately leap from the car and run away.
Apparently cars only started exploding with the introduction of color TV!

Reminds me of the woman who was sued for dragging her friend out of a crashed vehicle and aggravating her injuries because she thought the car would burst into flames. Thanks to her the Good Samaritan Law was just recently severely limited in its protection by the California Supreme Court.

edit: apparently good samaritans are too dumbed down by tv myth to be any help any more.
 
  • #15
Some of the old action TV shows were really ridiculous with the tire-squealing. Mannix could hop into his car that was parked on sand, a gravel road, dirt and scrub, you name it...whenever he floored it, the tires would squeal like he was on a drag strip.
 
  • #16
BobG said:
The top button buttoned stereotype in movies and TV shows.

I don't think it matches anything in the real world (although I couldn't say for sure).

It isn't necessary. "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" worked perfectly fine without resorting to the top button.

In fact, I think PF memebers should have a "Button your top button" day just to destroy the stereotype.

TheStatutoryApe said:
I am unsure exactly what you are referring to. You mean geeks (particularly of the anal retentive sort) that button their shirt all the way to the top?

I was thinking more like in the movies "Rainman" and "Forrest Gump". But, now that you mention it, Urkel (or whatever his name was) buttoned his top button, as well. I just expect sitcoms to use stupid stereotypes, but it is strange that they would use the 'mentally handicapped' stereotype for the show's 'nerd'.

"I am Sam" didn't resort to the top button sterotype, either.
 
  • #17
Heroes was almost painful with the way they stretched out to include people from all over the world: Japan, Haiti, South America, India, and even a good mix from all over the US.. I could forgive it.
Sort of like Captain Planet with the kid from South America who had the worst ring. He never got to use it except to maybe calm animals or make the bad guy good at the end of the episode. He was left out of most of the battles.
Some of the old action TV shows were really ridiculous with the tire-squealing. Mannix could hop into his car that was parked on sand, a gravel road, dirt and scrub, you name it...whenever he floored it, the tires would squeal like he was on a drag strip.
That's also one I noticed. I guess you can't know if he's taking off fast unless it makes that sound.

Speaking of sounds, what's with all the sharp objects in movies making a metal to metal scraping sound from just about anything you do with it? You know that "shing" sound. I'll let them have it when they unsheath the sword, but I've even heard it make that sound being pulled out of somebody.

And as far as guns go, no one takes someone with a gun seriously until that person aims the gun at them AND cocks it.
Sometimes it seems like the cocking sound gets applied to other times as well. I've seen plenty of times when it makes that cocking sound just from someone grabbing the gun. For example, if I remember correctly, it makes that sound when Neo does a cartwheel and grabs the gun off the ground in the lobby scene in the first Matrix movie.
I was thinking more like in the movies "Rainman" and "Forrest Gump". But, now that you mention it, Urkel (or whatever his name was) buttoned his top button, as well. I just expect sitcoms to use stupid stereotypes, but it is strange that they would use the 'mentally handicapped' stereotype for the show's 'nerd'.
Seems to me that it's more like a dorky stereotype than specifically mentally handicapped. The people who had like 3 buttons from the top unbuttoned, exposing a white t-shirt were usually the cool guys.
 
  • #18
leroyjenkens said:
And as far as guns go, no one takes someone with a gun seriously until that person aims the gun at them AND cocks it.
There are lots of such inaccuracies in movies and TV shows. For instance, the hero has a Glock, and he decides to cycle the slide when he sees a bad guy. Dumb! Glocks are designed to be carried with "one in the pipe" and have 3 specific levels of safety built into the trigger mechanism. Same with older double-action semi-auto pistols like P-38s, etc - carry them loaded. If you have to cycle the slide when a bad guy shows up, you have sacrificed one round of full capacity, time, and advantage.

Then, there is the obligatory cycling of the action every time somebody grabs a pump shotgun. What's with that? If these guys were really ready for trouble, there would already be a round in the chamber, with the safety on (or off if they were hard-cases without department rules to follow).
 
  • #19
TheStatutoryApe said:
I assume you play computer games?

LOL, in the early nineties for the five years I was Editor In Chief of one of the largest Polish monthly computer games magazines :smile:

But right now I am playing only occasionally.

Good ones I have played were: Safecracker, which is mostly just a collection of puzzles made to be lock mechanisms for safes but its a neat game; Return to Mysterious Island 2, based on a Jules Verne story with some basic science elements to the puzzles neat but not particularly challenging done in a Myst like style; and The Experiment, which I have only played a small part of its main interest is the manner of play

I was great fan of Monkey Island series, even today I have LeChuck's theme as a bell in my mobile :smile:
 
  • #20
turbo-1 said:
Mannix could hop into his car that was parked on sand, a gravel road, dirt and scrub, you name it...whenever he floored it, the tires would squeal like he was on a drag strip.

I hope he remembered to put on his seatbelt.

Brilliant rant from Stephen Fry (http://www.stephenfry.com/2008/09/02/episode-5-compliance-defiance/) about working on Spooks (UK tv series == NCIS) where the spies have to be seen to have their seatbelts on and must not be using their cell phones while driving - since that would set a bad example to viewers.

He tried pointing out to the 'compliance officer' that in the previous scene they had just shot somebody in the face - but apparently that is allowed for story reasons, while driving without due care and attention isn't.
Expect the next Bond movie to have a long segment about STDs and contraception before he beds the Bond girl.
 

Related to Annoying Stereotypes and Devices in TV, Film, and Writing

1. What are some common stereotypes found in TV, film, and writing?

Some common stereotypes found in media include the "dumb blonde" trope, the "nerdy Asian" character, and the "sassy black woman" stereotype.

2. How do these stereotypes negatively impact society?

These stereotypes can reinforce harmful and limiting beliefs about certain groups of people, perpetuating discrimination and prejudice. They can also create unrealistic expectations and pressure for individuals to conform to these stereotypes.

3. Are there any positive aspects to using stereotypes in media?

While stereotypes can be harmful, they can also serve as a shortcut for writers and creators to quickly establish a character or situation. In some cases, they can also be used to subvert expectations and challenge traditional stereotypes.

4. How can writers and creators avoid perpetuating stereotypes in their work?

One way to avoid perpetuating stereotypes is to diversify the representation of characters in media. This means including a range of diverse and complex characters, rather than relying on one-dimensional stereotypes. It's also important to do research and consult with individuals from the groups being portrayed to ensure accuracy and sensitivity.

5. Is it possible for media to be completely free of stereotypes?

While it's important for media to strive for diversity and accurate representation, it may be impossible to completely eliminate all stereotypes. Stereotypes are deeply ingrained in our society and it takes conscious effort to challenge and break them down. However, media creators have the power to limit the impact of stereotypes by avoiding harmful and offensive portrayals and actively working towards more nuanced and diverse representation.

Similar threads

Replies
4
Views
847
Replies
1
Views
830
  • Art, Music, History, and Linguistics
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • General Discussion
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
1
Views
493
  • General Discussion
Replies
12
Views
2K
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
7
Views
2K
Replies
12
Views
3K
Back
Top