Cliches and stereotypes exist because our brains are doing what they are supposed to do-- gather information, look for patterns, and make judgments based on those patterns. Imagine a non-Southerner coming to Tennessee and the first person he met said, "Hi, I'm from Tennessee and I'm married to my sister." Then, the second person he met said, "Hi, I'm from Tennessee and I'm married to my sister." Then, the third person he met said, "Hi, I'm from Tennessee and I'm married to my sister." Eventually, he would think all Tennesseans were married to their sisters.
Of course not.
In fact, Tennessee law forbids such unions. But, if our visitor kept seeing the same thing over and over again, his brain would see a pattern and make a judgment, based on that pattern. And, though that brain function may be problematic at times, it can be helpful at other times.
Take the latest Bush initiative, for example. According to CNN, the Doofus-in-Chief has decided that he wants to settle 7,000 Iraqi refugees in America. Personally, I have nothing against Iraqis.
In fact, I kind of feel sorry for them. They are one of the oldest cultures on the planet and they have gotten nothing but jerked around by Westerners since World War I. If I were an Iraqi, I'd be insurging, too.
But, settling them in the United States could present a problem. It could even summon a clich-.
I have lost track of the number of sword-and-sorcery movies I've watched, where some kid is the sole survivor of his village being razed by some jerk.
Years later, the jerk has forgotten about his pillaging and moved on with his life. But, the kid hasn't. The kid has endured hardships and grown up.
He's even developed six-pack abs. And, as soon as the kid can get his hands on a shiny tricked-out sword, he proceeds to open up a can of whoop-ass on the old jerk.
Hmm. Let's see . . .
My name is Ahmet. I was living a relatively happy and prosperous childhood in Baghdad. I and my family were law-abiding, mosque-going peaceful folks who were minding our own business. Then, one day, those asinine Americans invaded my country. I was shocked, but I wasn't awed. Infrastructure fell apart. The economy collapsed. A civil war broke out. And, my little world came crashing down.
Life was good before the Americans showed up. Now, everything my family owns can be carried on our backs.
And, now, the Americans want me to come live in their country. I'm just a kid now, but someday I'll grow up . . .