Stereotypes of white people  

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"What’s heaven? Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and the bankers are Swiss.

So then, what’s hell? Hell is where the police are German, the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and the bankers are Italian." [...]

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This article discusses the various stereotypes of Europeans/Whites present in Western societies. This article primarily discusses European/White stereotypes present in American culture, but the same or similar stereotypes are present in many other Western societies as well. Stereotypical representations of people of European heritage are often manifested in a society's media, literature, theatre and other creative expressions. They at times have very real repercussions for individual White Americans in daily interactions and in current events.


By region

Stereotyping of Whites regardless of nationality

White people are stereotyped in terms of various factors, such as their gender, nation, class, sexuality and/or ability etc.

Also, in many urban comedies, whites are portrayed as exaggeratedly nerdy, tense, rich, vapid, unstylish suburbanites. The trend is often cited as having been popularized with Eddie Murphy's experimentation with Whiteface, which itself was based upon earlier comedians, including Richard Pryor. Younger whites are also stereotyped as heavy metal, rock, or country fans, with older whites stereotyped as fans of Big band, or opera. In some stereotypes, whites are depicted as all liking "light" music such as Smothers Brothers or New Age types of music. Also all whites are stereotyped as having an appetite for pancakes, apple pie, pizza, and barbeque.

Conversely, whites are portrayed as white trash on certain occasions, in movies like Gummo and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Or sometimes they are portrayed as hopelessly typical people, such as in Can't Hardly Wait.

Good and bad whites (in various different media genres), are often separated through color-coded iconography, such as by means of their eye, hair and skin color and/or their clothing wear. Good whites are mostly visually depicted as being lighter, while bad whites are mainly portrayed as looking darker, in reference to some or all of the prior factors. However in cases such as the Da Vinci Code , bad whites are portrayed as extremely light skinned, the plot device know as the evil albino or albino bias .

When interacting with non-white individuals (of the opposite sex)

In many Westerns (for example), the white male explorer is represented as having to guard himself against the "temptations" of the "black woman abroad," i.e. the supposed dangers and allures of "darkness". The "white woman at home" on the other hand, is a symbol of the safety of what is known and familiar. For the white male, a partnership with the latter is also a way to avoid any kind of interracial relationship with the former, that would especially result with "mixed" children and thus supposedly degrade his "bodily spirit" to that of "earthly matter".

The white female on the other hand, is at times depicted as being able to exercise power over both non-white men and women. Because of the "privilege" of her whiteness, she may become the "civilizing center" of a narrative, but only in the absence of her white male counterpart. Such representations are most common within individual European colonial texts.

However, one could also argue that white characters and personalities are represented as "... individual and/or endlessly diverse, complex and changing" within the North American media. The same can't be said for non-white individuals, who are mostly portrayed through a limited scope i.e. as objects that are oppressed, amusing, sexual and/or dangerous." (Razack, Sherene H. "Looking White People in the Eye." University of Toronto Press: 3-4, 6. ) Furthermore, in Western/North American media based representation, "... [w]hite [people] are overwhelmingly and disproportionately predominant, have the central and elaborated roles, and above all are placed as the norm, the ordinary, the standard."

Stereotypes of white males seen recently in black media are as sexually repugnant beings; indulging in such acts as playing with or tugging on their partner’s hair for enjoyment or having sexual intercourse through the open fly of their pants or boxers (much to the dismay of their normally black partners). Blacks and Whites are often considered polar opposites in terms of stereotypes (blacks are portrayed as more lively in comparison to the conservative white stereotype); as such, white males are often shown as having smaller or "below-average" penises compared to the "well hung" black stereotype. The worst of these stereotypes may portray white men as having a dominating hold over their non-white partner, in a slave/master-esque manner.

See also

national stereotypes, ethnic stereotypes

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Stereotypes of white people" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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