Words by Bianca Castro
I have thought about a million supposedly witty ways to begin this little article on stereotypes, and found that every single beginning conformed to some sort of stereotype. Films, much like a lot of entertainment around these days, follows stereotypes for very obvious and simple reasons: it’s a sure-fire way of producing something that people will definitely go and watch. If you’re going to see a Hollywood produced or any other generic sort of film I can assure you that stereotypes will be ever prevalent. Directors do this so that audiences have their pre-conceptions fulfilled and something they can relate to; directors seem to believe that their audiences do not like change and stereotypes become the comfort blanket.
Films that try to break out of any type of stereotype always seem to chicken out at the last minute. True Grit breaks the stereotype of a male adult as the main protagonist. They use a child and a girl at that. However, she displayed all the qualities that the typical main hero/protagonist would normally display. She was also surrounded and supported by an almost all male cast, probably to compensate for her lack of penis I should think. Paper Heart, a mockumentary does seem at first to go against the stereotypes, although as a mockumentary it has a head start, but even here the film falls cursed to the boy meets girl and they fall in love storyline.
The majority of the films that do not seem to bow to the almighty stereotypes are the animations. Rango and Rio both outwardly go against the stereotypes of the typical hero. Rango is a cowardly chameleon and a liar, the only reason he rises to his hero status is because he has no choice. Rio is also a cowardly parrot who is bird-napped and again only becomes a hero when his friend is in trouble. I’m starting to see the beginnings of a trend here, should I be worried?
Animated films seem to be the only mainstream feature lengths that are better at going against the grain and the suffocating grip of the stereotype. Maybe because animations are seemingly so removed from reality, that by ignoring stereotypes they do not risk alienating audiences. Stereotypes have been around for as long as films have, that’s why genres were invented. But aren’t we, as 21st century film audiences, aloud to expect a little more that this? I do apologise for my terribly stereotypical ending of a rhetorical question, I thought I’d keep along with the theme.