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Rhetoric & Stereotypes

The word “stereotype” means a person or thing that conforms to an unjustifiably fixed or standardized picture. A very common example can be taken from the movies. Adam Sandler is a very popular American actor, but due to a large number of comedy movies in his career, he is primarily stereotyped as a comedian. We have some stereotyped perceptions on many professions, but in a number, these perceptions are proved to be wrong in many cases. At every moment we are getting much information from all our surroundings, as well as the popular media sources like television, radio, and television. These ideas commonly form our belief and overall ideology as the old saying that information rarely informs, but only to influence, induce and invoke. These things form our ideas (Carnaghi 2007).

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There are a lot of common ideas about many professions. One of the first and foremost stereotyped professions is the profession of a politician. Generally, a politician is always looked at in a bad light in any popular fiction, or say in movies. It is not wrong in many cases as in our world many politicians are involved in many wrong doing-from contract killing, to taking bribes, from wrongly using public money to ones own profit to helping persons on the wrong side of the law. Even if it always jokes in India that politics is the most paid profession and to join it one does not need any educational qualifications or any qualifications of any sort. Abuse of power can be economically satisfying; it applies to a politician.

But is all the politicians are like this? No, sometimes there are really good works done by them. A lot of leaders have done wonderful things. One of the very important issues of our world, Global Warming, has been dealt with really good steps by some leaders of politics. From the problems of low-cost housing for the poor to regular works for the jobless people, and most importantly, the aftermath of any terrorist attack, which is also one of the very important problems nowadays, is very efficiently handled by politicians (Crandall 2005).

Actually, at the end of the day, politics is nothing but the following of a principle, a way which someone believes in. Understandably, there may be conflicts in ideas, and one may not like the idea of a politician and he or she is free to criticize the politician. But we have to keep a clear mind, and if that very politician does something good, we have to applause his effort. The stereotyped bad man does not apply to him then (Carnaghi 2007).


A tattoo is a type of body painting that is in most cases permanent, is a type of body modification. The tattoo has a lot of negative effects throughout the world. Sometimes criminals use tattoos to show off their gangs and many other things. Sometimes many offices ban persons to get employed in their organizations because of having tattoos. The primary attitude towards a tattooed person is that he is rebellious, hard to control, and other things. In a general context, though the popularity of tattoos is on the rise in western society, they are still associated with criminality. They also carry a heavy social stigma among some criminal groups.

But is a tattooed person is always a criminal? We can start looking at the question from a very renowned novel, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. In the novel, there is a character called Queequeg, who befriends the narrator of the story. He had his whole body tattooed, and was a cannibal. Initially, the narrator was afraid of him, but later became best of friends with him and ultimately Queequeg was responsible for saving the life of Ishmael, the narrator’s life. Here the tattoos of Queequeg first gave wrong information about him to the narrator, which later on the course of the novel changed.

A lot of modern celebrities have tattoos. And they are not involved with any criminal work. We can take the examples of Angelina Jolie, who is an Academy Award-winning actress and also the Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has numerous tattoos which have been caused several media speculations. Similarly, David Beckham, the English soccer star and one of the most recognized athletes throughout the world, has almost seventeen tattoos. He is one of the role models in modern sporting culture. The fixed belief about tattooed persons does not apply to these names. With or without tattoos they are popular icons, role models in their rights (Fiske 2006).

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The term feminism means the advocacy for the equality of both the sexes and one who talks in this favor is termed as a feminist. Basically in popular culture, a feminist is always looked at as a rigid person, mostly a very strong-willed woman, who always speaks strong language, is very serious, and most difficult to handle. They are believed to be control-freaks too. And if a man is presented as a feminist, then his character tends to become a eunuch in a sense.

But the real case is not the same. Some of the world’s most respected minds have been feminists. Alan Alda, Kurt Cobain, Hillary Clinton, Sylvia Plath, John Lennon, Benazir Bhutto, John Stuart Mill were all claimed themselves, feminists. It is wonderful to read that Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism was also a feminist. These names also are very popular and some are institutions themselves. Feminism is mainly devoted towards the equality of men, in many cases, the sufferings of women, which is overlooked generally, are dealt with patience in the branches of feminism, and this is a wonderful thing (Fiske 2006).

Senior citizen

A senior citizen is a person who is over his retirement age. So it is evident that a senior citizen is on the verge of old age and so he undergoes a lot of changes. Generally, for senior citizens, it is stereotyped that they are short-tempered, they can not adopt the changes, and so on. Most importantly, the generation gap becomes a huge problem for any senior citizen. All these problems are very true in many cases. Adjustment becomes a problematic issue here. All these things are reflected in popular culture. But here one can remember an often-quoted line from the very popular movie series Indiana Jones where the lead character, played by Harrison Ford, who himself is an example of defeating this senior citizen tag and said that mileage does count and not age.

There are a lot of examples of persons who have been effective despite his or her old age. Harry Bernstein is an author who published his first book, The Invisible Wall in the age of 96. Mae Laborde is an actress who began acting in her 90s, to be very precise at the age of 93. Arthur Winston retired from his job working for the Los Angeles Metro after 72 years at the age of 100. There are a lot of examples of persons who are still working in their old age the stereotypical ideas do not apply to them. O Toole, an acclaimed actor who has received the most number Academy award nominations than any other actor, was nominated for the Best Actor award in the year 2006 at the age of 74 (Carnaghi 2007).


The stereotyped examples will always remain. But the most convenient way to understand any person is not to go through the stereotypical ideas but to access their work thoroughly. Maybe there are some truths about these stereotyped examples, maybe sometimes they create problems but everyone in this bracket does not like those. Many of them are better than the average, the persons who do not come to any bracket. For example, a feminist may be portrayed as a comic character in a movie, a tattooed person as a terrorist, and a senior citizen as a cynical fellow, but all of them are not like that. If we think that they are like that then it is a credit of the actor who is portraying the character or the persons involved in the film to make these characters come alive and make a niche in the public imagination. So it is convenient for one not to go by these ideas and decide the character of a person by judging with his intellect.


Carnaghi, A. (2007) Subtyping and social consensus: the role of the audience in the maintenance of stereotypic beliefs. European Journal of Social Psychology, 37(5), 902-922.

Crandall, C.S. (2005) Creating stereotypes and capturing their content. European Journal of Social Psychology, 26(6) 867-898.

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Fiske, S.T. (2006) Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination at the seam between the centuries: evolution, culture, mind, and brain. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30(3), 299-322.

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