Monday, January 24, 2011

My name is Magan and I am NOT a stereotype

As I went through revising HOW TO DATE AN ALIEN (which FYI content revisions are now DONE and time to sit before I work on the last run-through), I would take frequent "writing breaks" to watch the greatest show on television:  Law and Order:SVU.

So what do I have to rant about and what does this have to do with a Monday Musing?

Yeah...we're going to talk about the Italian stereotype...AGAIN.

Alexandra Bianchi, my main character is obviously Italian with a last name like Bianchi.  (Her original last name was White, but I decided I wanted it to be the Italian word for white instead.)  I based her father's looks off of these guys...

         

If  you don't know who these two fine Italian men are...well we may have some problems.  Okay, FINE it would happen to be Elliot Stabler from SVU and Marlon Brando.

So you expect her dad to be like the Italian guys you see on SVU, right?  The mob boss who they apprehend while he is out with his cronies at an Italian restaurant and wearing a velour track suit?

SERIOUSLY????

I'm really sick of reading and watching that stereotype of Italian men!  My mother is Sicilian and I've been around plenty of Italian boys growing up in the Roman catholic church and NO they don't hang around restaurants in Velour track suits all day long.  Actually, I've never seen an Italian man in work out gear...they prefer Hawaiian shirts.

So, here's where my rant is going.  We write characters, they may be traditional WASPS or they may be something different like Italian girls, but it's up to US to break the mold of the stereotyped character that isn't even a true stereotype!  The blonde cheerleader, the meat head jock, and the Italian mobster--they all get lumped together to create the same characters over and over and it's time to break the cycle YA writers!

As you work on your revisions, write your WIP, or just watch cop television shows; remember this:  stereotypes are just that--stereotypes that are meant to put people in neat little boxes.  Don't box your characters and PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE if I read or watch ONE more young Italian man in a gold chain and velour track suit...someone is getting a lesson in Italian culture.

How do you fight stereotyping in your novel?  Have you wrote Italian characters?  Someone tell me they knew that was Brando...

8 comments:

  1. Ahh, I so understand what you mean with this post. But I'll be honest: I will embrace certain stereotypes when I'm writing. Granted, one character doesn't have all the stereotypes or even many but they will embody some. Most of my characters are gay males and they all are very different. One for example is rather femme. He likes nice clothes, shoes and lives in a fancy house. It's a romance type novella idea and his counterpart in the story is a born on the farm guy who now drives a semi-truck for a living. Plus there is way more to the femme one than that simple layer. But it does use one of the stereotypes involving gay boys.

    I base these decisions from experience. On the other hand, I probably won't have a limp wristed, gay boy with a lisp because honestly, I haven't met one that has those two. The main thing to focus on is creating a full character and not using ploys based on a single portion of that character because there is always more below the surface.

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  2. When you mention the Italian stereo type I think of Abe from Vampire Academy.

    BTW I love Elliot Stabler!

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  3. I have a character that breaks out of her stereotype and surprises my POV character. It takes a while, but eventually she's more than the initial perception of her.

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  4. Oh, How to Date an Alien! My GOD, you should have talked to me. I think I've dated many. Seriously. As for stereotypes-- unless they are over the top (done on purpose), I try to avoid them altogether. HOWEVER! There are characteristics certain people, cultures, etc. have. For example, a cheek pinching Italian momma who makes you eat all of your meatballs. Everybody knows one. And she cooks up those meatballs with love.

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  5. I have a very, er, unusual award for you on my blog! :)

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  6. brando is not italian

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  7. Brando is not italian

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