In a simple world, all Asians look exactly the same with slanted eyes; all Germans are harsh and love beer; all Italians are olive-skinned, good at cooking and being mothers and all blond-and-blue-eyed-Nordics are happy and hug trees. There are so many ethnic and racial stereotypes in our world, and especially in Europe. What would we do without them? Would our world be a catastrophe or a sheer blissful taste of Eutopia?
We would have to think HARDER about Europe? Oh, no!
|Image: Michael Planz (CC BY-SA-2.0)|
|Tatiana Silva was the Miss Belgium 2005. But really, that must've been a hoax. With that skin colour, she can't possibly be European!|
In a world with no racial stereotypes and without the obvious use of a Chinese Kungfu fighter, an Indian-looking Kalaripayattu master, and a dark-skinned man kicking in the style of capoeira, the video campaign of the European Commission's goal of European integration is almost unachievable.
What, if not Chinese, Indian or Black people, should "real Europeans" be working together against: blond Africans, Eurasians or white Australians? Seriously, if it wasn't for the existence of "non-European-looking non-Europeans" and their aggression, why on earth would Europe want to stick together - right?
So, thank goodness for racial stereotypes. The PR teams working in the European Commission probably took exactly 3 minutes figuring out the plot and direction of the next "European Enlargement" campaign and saved so much money from taxpayers (only that they didn't). The cost of finding these actors is low because they are probably Europeans and don't need a work permit; they do not actually have to be Chinese, Indian or Brazilians when all the lines they had were "Hee, haa, ufff" and really, how difficult is it to pick up an actor with a different ethnicity in Europe?
The campaign has simplified the question of one European identity that many philosophers, academics and politicians have wrestled with for half their lives, and fitted into one and a half minutes. Minimum effort and maximum output: bravo! (Actually, at E&M we are not that fond of the campaign. Read why here).
Without racial stereotypes, it seems the masterminds behind this campaign would actually have to find better reasons for Europe to integrate and enlarge; without the Chinese, Indians and Brazilians, a European audience would have to think harder what is really standing between Europe and growth. That just sounds like way too much work already.
Oh, how I cannot imagine waking up to a world without ethnic stereotypes! University brochures that proudly represent "internationalism" would only consist of happy students of one or two races. That means potential students like myself would actually have to read through the numbers and statistics of country representation and consider what it actually means to be "international."
Everyday life would be a mess!
In a world without racial stereotypes, trusting your instincts would become more difficult, even with the most basic things. An example: Buying street food. I would have to examine carefully the quality of my Döner Kebab or my Chinese box if they were served by blond-and-blue-eyed Scandinavians. How do they know exactly the art of cooking authentic ethnic food, despite everything being pre-made?
Would you go to an Italian Pizzeria if the waiter is Vietnamese-looking; would you trust a Russian man if he tells you he really loves making espresso?
If we stuck with the stereotypical restaurant owners with ethnic food, our lives would be so much easier and we would all have more trust in the quality of our food.
And what about movies? Without the stereotypical hardworking and competitive Asian, or the heartless and cruel Russians in James Bond movies, or the hot and sexy Spaniards and Italians, how could our cultural understanding survive? A Portuguese sidekick in a kungfu movie just doesn't make sense, even if he is really good at his job, does it? And all of these films would not even be known if not for ridiculous stereotyping. And again, all of the people from ethnic minorities would probably lose their current jobs portraying the perfect representation of their ethnicity.
|Yes, all Asians are like this. No exceptions.|
Would Europe really be a Eutopia in terms of politics, culture and cuisine if ethnic stereotyping didn't exist? Can we really feel European without being branded by our looks and hence our need to "stick with our kind?" Are we, as young Europeans, ready to challenge our secret stereotypes of others (even positive ones!) and ponder the shared, yet different, values of why we call ourselves Europeans? Are you ready for the reality of Eutopia?
Thumbnail photo: NASA (PD)