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Stereotypes Take a Funny Turn

Europe According to the USA

Europe is growing closer. In spite of numerous local differences, Europe has reached a point of unity unparallel in its history. Even just 100 years ago, it would have been completely unthinkable that the French, German, Spanish, English, etc. peoples would have decided to economically and politically fuse themselves and to resolve issues without violence and arms.

Obviously, there are remnants of the aggressively insulated cultures in the form of stereotypes. These generalizations are usually perceived as negative, but as the German philosopher, Max Horkheimer, states in his essay, “Über das Vorurteil”, positive and negative stereotypes are two sides of the same thing. He asserts that individuals would have a very difficult time coping in the modern world without generalizations, as each person has an innate desire to understand the world. To counter confusion, generalizations offer an initial order. They simplify reality. They break the complexities down into digestible pieces.

These prejudices can, of course, be very damaging to unity and to a genuine, fruitful world-view. It is, therefore, the right and duty of every culture to learn to overcome these emphasized differences and see individuals for who they are. However, understanding the origins of stereotypes, making them known, and a good dose of humor can aid this process. We here at the MAGIX International Team, composed of people from numerous cultures and countries, have had a great time looking at these maps. Yanko Tsvetkov, a London-based graphic designer, created them for his project “Mapping Stereotypes”  to point out these differences in jest. As a result, all of us here can see these generalizations in an open environment full of friendship as funny exaggerations of reality. If there is something to be proud of in our 21st century environment, it is that we can all sit here together and laugh about these differences rather than fight.

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