{don’t worry norway; it’s africa to the rescue!}

While this spoof is indeed hilarious the idea behind it is sobering. Most of us don’t have an opinion automatically about a country – if you said Denmark, people would say… “Um… cows? Hot chocolate with that girl… no, wait, that’s the Swiss Miss.” What people think about Denmark – or Estonia, or Finland, or many other countries is that they’re just… Denmark, Estonia, and Finland. What’s the worldwide knee-jerk assumption about Norway?? It’s … er, a country? With fjords? But, consider Africa. It’s a continent which routinely is mistaken for one country, it’s thousands of tribes mistaken for one people, it’s hundreds of languages, myriad shades of color, it’s desert, beach, mountains and rivers mistaken entirely for savannah with lions and gazelles and zebras. And it’s always poor, always violent, always starving, always in need of some compassionate missionary-type to make you care – and it’s full of guys who win marathons.

It is this kind of assuming, stereotypical, dismissive thinking that causes us in this country to overfocus on Eurocentric ideas of beauty, success, and culture. It permeates our society, and our media, including our fiction.

People complain about stereotypes, say that they’re based on truth, and that no one would use them if they weren’t true. The problem with “based on” truth, and actual truth is that they’re two different things. Truth is made up of more than generalizations. Africa is a million different things, just like North America is a million different things. Hat tip to these guys for having a sense of humor about forcing us to see the differences.

ENOUGH with the stereotypes. Grab a radiator, and give. Friends: Norway needs you.

Hat tip, Sociological Images.

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