Recently I was reading about a brand new guide to the UK, published in the US, and ended up wondering where they did their research. I just couldn’t recognise my country from what they said. It seems that if there’s one stereotype that refuses to die, it’s that of nationality … (PS no offence intended to anyone)
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At 4pm sharp, right across the land, the entire country stops for this age-old ritual of tea, sandwiches and cakes. According to the above-mentioned guide, that is. Now, I admit that most British people I know can’t get through the day without several cups of tea, but I have never known anyone make afternoon tea. Not once.
Photo Credit: Hughes Léglise-Bataille
They do love their strikes, the French, don’t they? On the slightest pretext, they down tools and go for a nice march, waving their banners. The civil servants strike. The transport workers strike. Now everyone’s objecting to the prospect of having to retire at 62. They should think themselves lucky they’re not British – we’ll have to soldier on until we’re 67, with no time for afternoon tea …
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Everybody knows that all Americans are obnoxious, overweight, ignorant gun-toting flag-waving patriots who want to invade every other country on earth, right? No, this is the problem with stereotypes – how can 200 million people all be the same? The US is such a vast country, and in my limited experience every American I’ve ever met has been friendly and pleasant.
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My mother thinks that all Mexicans are bandits (I think she’s seen too many cowboy films). Everybody else thinks that they are lazy and spend all day sleeping in the sun. On the contrary, every Mexican I have met has been very hard-working. American stereotype them as illegals. Or is that a stereotype itself?
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All Brazilians are unbelievably good-looking, have perfect tanned bodies, and spend all their time lounging around on beaches. I have only met one Brazilian – and trust me, he should never be seen on a beach. If this stereotype were true, what would all the Brazilians who live nowhere near a beach do (it is a very big country …).
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The poor Canadians must get so tired of their country being portrayed as about nothing more than moose, ice hockey and Mounties. Then there’s being mistaken for Americans, and labelled as boring …
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Most assumptions about nationality are quite funny, if not entirely true, but Muslims are now the subject of the most dangerous stereotype. They are all considered to be at best religious extremists who want to impose their way of life on everyone else, and at worst terrorists. Very sad. It ignores the major contribution of Islam to architecture, medicine and literature, and that the majority are peaceful people.
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All Italians are terrible drivers. The young people spend their time riding around on scooters. The men are Mamma’s boys, live at home until they are 35, and no-one will ever cook pasta sauce as good as Mamma.
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All Scandinavians are tall, good-looking blondes who love winter sports. They are totally relaxed about their bodies and have no problems being naked in company. Other than this they are totally boring and have never done anything of cultural or historical note.
Photo Credit: Eric Lafforgue
Whichever country they come from, Africans are either primitive tribesmen, gun-toting warmongerers or gigolos looking for rich western women. They are also all musical, spend much of their time dancing, and all live in poverty unless they are part of a corrupt elite.
Well, I’m happy to laugh at how the British are portrayed, but what do you think of the stereotypes of your own country? Do you find them funny, ignorant or offensive?
Top Photo Credit: crustydolphin
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