Stop Being Stereotypical

(permanent link) added: 2009-11-15 18:02:23 sponsor: rjung (last reply: 2009-11-15 18:09:57)

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A member of a social/racial/sexual/political/recreational group criticizes other members of their group for perpetuating negative stereotypical behavior. This may be anything from gentle needling to a high-profile rant against the transgressors. Whatever the form, the Stop Being Stereotypical message is usually one against embarrassing the group and setting back their efforts for wider acceptance.

Typically, this may reflect divisions of class (such as polite black people complaining about the "gangsta" behavior of unruly blacks), gender expression (such as gender-conforming gays complaining about "flaming" gays), ideology (such as religious people against fundamentalists), or conformity to common social rules (such as geeks complaining about others who don't bother to maintain their personal hygene).

If the criticism is leveled by a character in a work, it may be a Very Special Episode or an Anvilicious Author Tract. Might also be done by a Real Life creator as an attempt at reform of the group. Flame Wars and Unfortunate Implications can occur if not handled carefully.

Note that there is nothing limiting a Stop Being Stereotypical message to any particular type of assembly. Mathematically speaking, any sufficiently large crowd will have outliers who act against the group's interests and serve as the target of such a message. For example, most sports fans are simply enthusiastic supporters of their team, but all fans get a black eye when a few Fan Dumb members go overboard and start riots if their team loses (or wins).

Also see Real Women Never Wear Dresses, a subtrope pertaining to feminine depictions in media, and Broken Base, a common place for enthusiasts to sling such accusations against each other.

Due to the sensitive nature of this trope, please keep examples objective, avoid profanity, and refrain from editorializing.


  • One of Chris Rock's most infamous comedy routines is "N----s vs. Black People," a rant on how a few blacks perpetuate negative media stereotypes and mess things up for everyone else. He later stopped doing the piece for fear that some would interpret it as a license to use racial epitaphs.
    "A n---a will say some shit like, "I take care of my kids." You're supposed to, you dumb motherf----r! What kind of ignorant s--t is that? Watchu want, a cookie?!"
  • Bill Cosby provoked a Real Life Flame War in 2004 when, during a celebration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, he criticized African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and "acting hard" over education, self-respect, and self-improvement.
  • In an episode of The Boondocks, there is an episode about MLK Jr. surviving his gunshot wound and instead getting into a coma for thirty years before awakening. Amongst getting branded as an anti-American for suggesting non-violence in the wake of 9/11, he tries to hold a conference at a local church... which devolves into bringing out the worst stereotypes of blacks. He gets fed up, uses the word "n---a" (which he admits is the "most disgusting word in the English language) and calls out the audience in what's essentially a more formal and angrier version of Chris Rock's original rant.
    • This is a recurring theme in Aaron McGruder's Boondocks works (both the comic and the cartoon). One controversial set of comic strips had black contestants compete on a reality TV show to work for Russell Simmons, only to find that all the contestants were rude and lazy.
  • Dork Tower has done several strips where the characters and/or the artist (who are all avid Tabletop Games players) call out other gamers for their lack of social skills (civility, personal hygene, inappropriate clothing, etc.), especially at conventions.
  • 30 Rock has this with Tracy and Toofer.
  • This is a recurring theme on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  • Christopher Buckley quit his column for the National Review after readers complained of his endorsement of Barack Obama in the 2007 U.S. Presidential election. In his resignation column, Buckley chided American conservatives for betraying their ideals and for being an exclusionary movement.
    I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it's a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me... to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven't left the Republican Party. It left me.
  • Occurs in the final chapter of Gene Yang's American Born Chinese. Danny who's really Jin Wang attacks his "visiting cousin" Chin-Kee, a buck-toothed slant-eyed Engrish-speaking caricature for being a perpetual embarrassment. It turns out Chin-Kee is actually the Monkey King, trying to get Danny to accept the Chinese heritage he had previously rejected.
  • Occurs in the movie Crash when the movie producer tells Ludacris "I'm ashamed of you; you're ashamed of yourself."
  • There's a Yiddish phrase, "Shonda for the Goyim" ("scandal in front of the non-Jews") that exemplifies this trope. Basically, it's the fear that all non-members of the group will judge the group by anything bad one member does, so all members better put on a good face for the outside world and don't air the dirty laundry.

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