Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Big Fat Greek Wedding, My Life in Ruins & An American Carol: Stereotypes

These are great movies that talk about stereotypes. An American Carol can be full of touchy points of view, so make sure your audience will deal with it well.

A. Read some definitions of stereotypes. Work with a partner and think about at least three examples for each piece of information of the definitions. These definitions were taken from the excellent site The English Department

1. A simplified and fixed image of all members of a culture or group (based on race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, national origins).

2. Generalizations about people that are based on limited, sometimes inaccurate, information (from such sources as television, cartoons or comic books, minimal contact with one or more members of the group, second-hand information)

3. Initial predictions about strangers based on incomplete information about their culture, race, religion, or ethnicity

4. A single statement or attitude about a group of people that does not recognize the complex, multidimensional nature of human beings

5. Broad categories about people that fail to differentiate among individuals, peoples, and societies.

B. Work in small groups. Discuss these items and decide whether they are true or false.

1. ( ) Stereotypes can be positive or negative.

2. ( ) They are all unfair and misleading.

3. ( ) They reduce individuals to an inflexible image.

4. ( ) Human beings are unique and complex, so no one should be stereotyped.

5. ( ) They dehumanize people because they place all members of a group in one simple category.

6. ( ) Stereotypes can be true.

7. ( ) You can know a lot about a people if you know their stereotypes.

8. ( ) Stereotypes are not necessarily true, but there is a lot of reality in them.

C. Share your opinions with the class.

D. Match the words about stereotypes with their definitions:

1. alienation

2. attitude of superiority

3. discrimination

4. ethnocentrism

5. intolerance

6. prejudice

7. racism

8. scapegoat

9. traits

10. xenophobia

( ) a belief that one is better than others are

( ) fear or dislike of foreigners or strangers

( ) a feeling of being separate or not belonging

( ) special treatment (good or bad) based or race, religion, physical appearance, age or social class

( ) lack of kindness or understanding toward people who are different

( ) belief that one's own group (country, race or culture) is better than other

( ) characteristics, features

( ) A person or group who is given the blame for the mistakes or failures of others

( ) Belief that an ethnic group is superior or inferior than other groups

( ) A negative, unfair opinion about a person or group of people based on limited information or experience

Answer key: 2, 10, 1, 3, 5, 4, 9, 8, 7, 6

E. Watch the first segment from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and discuss the folowing questions:


1. What are the stereotyped information the main character gives about the Greek people concerning these issues:

a. People

b. Families

c. Food

d. Marriages

e. Dating relationships

F. Now watch the segment from the movie My Life in Ruins and identify the stereotyped information given about the following group of people:

a. Australians

b. Americans

c. Canadians

G. Watch the third segment from the movie An American Carol and identify the director's steretotyped view of the following issues:


-a. Arabs:

- Political beliefs

- Marriages -

- Their view about Americans

- Clothing

b. Mexicans:

c. Cubans:

H. Class discussion:

1. Do you consider all the stereotypes depicted in the segments offensive? If not, which ones do you consider offensive? Explain it.

2. Why were these peoples pictured that way? Is there any truth about them?

3. How are Brazilians (or your nationality) stereotyped by other people? Make a list of examples.

4. Are any of them true? Explain it.

5. How do you feel about the stereotypes attributed to Brazilians (or your nationality)?




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