My friend “C” recently refused to watch a movie with us blokes. It wasn’t because it wasn’t a good show (4 Academy Award wins) or because it wasn’t the kind of show he liked to watch.
It wasn’t because he would rather spend the time with his girlfriend whom we’ve never met before except on accidental occasions because this is seriously a tiny island (I once ran into a trick five times in two days. I’m sure we both thought we were stalking each other.)
It was simply because the movie was gay, or so he thought, and he, for some strange reason, felt that watching it with a bunch of guys was uncomfortable.
When I first heard it, I nearly burst out laughing. But after some moments of cooling down, I came to realise that it was actually rather pitiable that a good show would go to waste, at least for one person, just because of a stereotype.
What other things would “C” not do, because he was afraid or uncomfortable in a gay environment? Wear a pink shirt? Sign a petition for equal rights? And if he was so uncomfortable because of a stereotype, how many others would be the same way?
Unfortunately, in my self-examination, although I have to admit this is strictly restricted to movies and books and music, I am just as guilty of stereotyping, which I’m sure you are guilty of too, dear reader. For example, when watching any show starring Sylvester Stallone, my immediate assumption is that it’s a lousy B-grade (actually, more like D-grade) movie with absolutely no intrinsic value.
While I might be right about the D-grade, I cannot say it’s totally worthless, except I cannot appreciate its value. Vietnam war veterans might feel differently.
I might also be inclined to love everything directed by Francis Ford Coppola, but that’s another stereotypical assumption that everyone can appreciate the movies he makes, and agree with me that he is wonderful.
How often have we decided to forego some show for another, just because we thought it was some stereotype – chick flick, sad romance that makes you want to kill yourself, foreign film, film with a lousy actor, film without any famous actors, film with a lousy director, Chinese film, Indian film, horror, action? – without even bothering to find out what it was?
And how often do we watch a movie because it fits into a genre that we always assume will be something we will enjoy without even giving thought to what show it is? Even worse, how often do we find ourselves raving about a show, just because it was a genre of movie we liked, and not so much due to its quality?
I freely admit I’m guilty of all three at one point or another in my life. I always turn down offers by friends to watch action films, and I always try to catch foreign language films at Cathay or Shaw except Thai or some strange (what I generally condescendingly consider to be of poorer skill) country’s movies because I always feel foreign language films tend to be of better quality than mainstream ones, but Last Life in the Universe was a Thai production, and it was great.
And I have to point out that I haven’t seen that many foreign language film that I can’t rave about, mainly because I skip all the dumb horror (see what I mean?) flicks from Korea or Japan or Thailand or somewhere, but they are also foreign language films.
What I’m merely trying to point out, very uneloquently, is that we all need to break through our conventions, and learn to handle our biases. So the next time you’re flipping through the papers to look for a movie, don’t just skip over a movie because you think the title’s lame, or the picture doesn’t have Gwyneth in it. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised at the movie.