Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Films and Stereotypes

When Spanish people find out I'm from Canada, they often ask, “Is it true that you can leave your doors unlocked in Canada?” Apparently, after Bowling for Columbine, people think Canada is so safe that we can leave our front doors open to anybody.

The truth is, Canada is relatively safe in terms of physical assaults and similar crimes, but in my city, property crime (robbing houses or cars) is amongst the top 3 on police lists. I explain to my Spanish friends that the level of safety in Canada is similar to Spain's: in big cities, most people don't leave their doors unlocked. In small towns, however, a lot of people do. I remember visiting my friend in a small town in British Columbia, and her boyfriend came home only to find I'd locked the door, which absolutely confused him.

Here in Jaén I watched El Francotirador (American Sniper). It had been a while since I'd seen such an American, patriotic film. I honestly enjoyed the camera shots of the tanks, gunfire, etc. Near the end of the film, there's a scene where Chris Kyle playfully embraces his wife, all the while holding a loaded pistol near her body. The Spanish people in the audience visibly winced and murmured loudly, clearly uncomfortable by the scene. It's possible that images like this make them think that all Americans have guns and are okay with them. The truth is, some do and some don't. But thanks to the news and films, this is one of the stereotypes they hold.
Chris Kyle
This led me to compare what Spanish films I'd watched in my life, and how their images influenced my preconceived notions before moving here. Habla Con Ella, Pan's Labrynth, Grupo 7... I thought all of the Spanish men would be tall, black-haired, brown-eyed, and hot. In reality, yes a lot of them are hot, but there's an absolute potpourri of hair, eye, and skin colour. I also thought that the women would be hot-tempered tamales. They're actually fairly composed. Many of my friends are quite calm and aren't party animals.

That's the beauty of living abroad; you really get a feel for the people. You realize how diverse the world is.

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