Does anyone really like to be stereotyped in any way, shape or form? Does anyone want to be looked at and automatically judged just because of the way they look, by their skin color, their hair type, or even the type of clothing they choose to wear? Now, you might ask, well, what is even the correct definition of a stereotype?
According to United Nations Human Rights, the correct definition of a stereotype is the “generalized view or preconception about attributes or characteristics that are or ought to be possessed by members of a particular social group or the roles that are or should be performed by, members of a particular social group.” According to United Nations Human Rights, a stereotype is “harmful when it limits women’s or men’s capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue their professional careers and make choices about their lives and life plans.” Throughout the film, Finding Forrester, directed by Gus Van Sant, based on my own personal opinion, it is a film that perpetuates a variety of different and even harsh stereotypes. It is quite clear throughout the majority of the film, the two shared their differences, there was quite a series of controversy based on Jamal’s race and his intelligence.
In the article, “Sex and Temperament” written by Margaret Mead, she describes how the roles of males and females are conditioned by that person’s given culture. Mead describes the research done to see if cultures contribute to the shaping of a person. The research involves three primitive groups: the Arapesh, the Mundugumor and the Tchambuli. Through each of these groups with the roles of sexes, both male and female, they were based on the culture conditioning rather genetics or heredity; for example, culture conditioning is the way a newborn child is shaped or raised into its given culture.
Race is a major issue throughout society today, but race is also a major issue in the film along with the many different other stereotypes that are created. Take for example Corey Stewart, a Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Virginia. Last year in September, Stewart used a well-known social media platform, Facebook, to further share his opinions regarding racial stereotypes pointed towards NFL players. As stated on CNN under the political category, Stewart said, “A lot of these guys, I mean, they’re thugs, they are beating up their girlfriends and their wives, you know, they’ve got, you know, children all over the place that they don’t pay attention to, don’t father, with many different women, they are womanizers. These are not people that we should have our sons, or any of our children look up to. We need to have our children look up to real role models.”
What does raising a child or even being a role model to a child have anything to do with playing football professionally? Stewart is obviously stereotyping black men based off the false stereotype of the general population of black men, lack of evidence and past history of racial incidences with people of color. It is also quite clear that Stewart is not acknowledging that other men or even women of different ethnicities have engaged in either the same or similar acts. Jamal Wallace is introduced in the film as a typical black teenage male who goes to a low-class high school in the Bronx, but very much so excels on the court as a basketball player. Jamal is dared by his friends to go into the apartment that they like to call “The Widow’s House”, of a recluse who watches Jamal and his friends play basketball through binoculars, but Jamal gets caught trespassing and runs away in fright.
Not too many people thought of Jamal as being anything more than just that, especially due to the fact that Jamal was making second-rate grades at his high school in the Bronx, he simply just does what he can to get by and maintain a “C” average. Jamal did not push himself any harder in the classroom than he ever needed to. Jamal’s passion was always writing, so when Jamal broke into the man’s apartment, he met an old famous writer named William Forrester, but he did not quite know exactly who he was yet until later on in the film and little did they know that when they first met what a great difference they each eventually made for each other. William is the first person who was genuine and sincerely cared to help Jamal on his writing by mostly teaching him discipline. Even though William’s main goal when it came to helping Jamal with his writing, he also helped Jamal find himself throughout each of his own personal writings. Throughout the film, you can see that William’s goal was accomplished, and Jamal prospers into be quite a good writer.
It is said that our parents, whether they were either right or wrong, shaped our lives into the human beings that we are all today and will be from our days moving forward. Each and every single one of us developed numerous habits that had eventually become apart of our daily routines in our everyday lives ever since the day we were all welcomed into this great, big world, and it helped us each to express ourselves within our world. I, myself, am no exception for the human being I am today, though in a much greater portion, because of my mother and father. As I grew up and even presently to this day, my own mind was nearly always on the same page as each of my parents: there is nothing I could not accomplish nor achieve; however, at this rather impressionable age, I began to notice certain habits only existed because of my parents and that certain tasks were not universally done by one another. As time went on, it became quite clear that my parents did not share the same roles or opinions as I had once thought they always did, whether it was about duties being performed around the house or whether it was about the positions of being a role model when it came to guidance, senses of perspective and aspirations.
If there is one thing I learned about this film, it is that, no matter where we go or what we do, there are challenges that lie ahead of us. You need to meet those challenges head on with your head held high and your heart open wide, because it is not enough to simply try and get by with your life. That does not move the world forward, nor yourself for that matter.
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