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Movie Friday: RCA, Sony, and big black cocks

Name three stereo types…

Animated gif of a young man shaking his head 'no'

No? Not even a little? All right then, let’s move on.

One of the things that stuck out for me when I was studying cognitive psychology is the extent to which our brains are happiest when they have the least amount of work to do. We have a wide variety of mechanisms evolved specifically to let our brains ‘coast’ and do as little work as possible. Stereotypes, whether about people or groups or behaviours (or anything, really) are one very popular and powerful way of classifying information without having to put a lot of thought into it. Of course, the downside of stereotypes is that they often lead us to make erroneous conclusions based on bad information.

Those stereotypes propagate, and we come to see the entire world through the lens of our own lazy ignorance. For example:

The brilliance of this video is that it repeatedly hammers you with the contrast of the reality with the stereotype. In so doing, it forces your brain into a state of cognitive dissonance – it must reconcile these images that do not go together. Those happy, smiling, fun-loving guys do not conform to the pictures we’re shown in the movie clips. It drives that wedge in there and forces us to confront our programming.

Of course, some people don’t care to challenge lazy stereotypes. Some people are lazy themselves, and would rather kowtow to our baser instincts for a cheap laugh. The problem is, sometimes they just aren’t funny:

First of all, Ashton Kutcher is seriously… seriously… not funny. I’m not hilarious, but I know funny. That’s not it. It’s not even just a question of taste – there wasn’t anything funny about that commercial, except maybe the premise of having a ‘normal’ guy mixed in with a bunch of ‘abnormal’ guys. Second, the Raj character was completely unnecessary. Why did he have to be Indian? Aside from the fact that Kelso can’t do an Indian accent for shit, it didn’t make any sense. The rest of the characters were white and silly (except Swordfish, who seemed kind of deep), why throw in obligatory brownface?

Anyway, Mr. Punk’d is an idiot. This guy knows what’s up:

Once again, smart is better than stupid.

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