January 05, 2015
The Utah Education Network carries international programming from MHZ Networks like Detective Montalbano, about a police inspector in Sicily. I confess to being endlessly amused at how Italian it is. That plus the joy of watching Luca Zingaretti (as Salvo Montalbano) being one cool Italian dude.
Luca Zingaretti and David Suchet (as Hercule Poirot) would appear to occupy opposite ends of the television detective spectrum. Though perhaps they are so far apart they end up standing back-to-back: the Northern European and Southern European versions of the same character.
By the same token, Donnie Wahlberg as the quintessential New York cop in Blue Bloods is a big part of the draw for me. His performance does raise the curious linguistic question of where he picked up his particular New York accent and mannerisms, since nobody else in the family seems to share them.
But why overthink it? It makes for another fun--and dare I say, informative--stereotype. Stereotypes are not only useful but necessary, it not being possible to personally familiarize ourselves with all 7 billion people on the planet. Or everybody in our town. Or even everybody on our street.
As G. K. Chesterton puts it,
[W]hat is the good of telling a man (or a philosopher) that he has every liberty except the liberty to make generalizations? Making generalizations is what makes him a man.
You'll get much closer to the "human" by latching onto a handful of rough generalizations about Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese, for example, than politely designating all billion-plus of them as undifferentiated "Asians."
Besides, in order to play against a stereotype, there has to be a stereotype there to start with, the same way a musician riffs on an old melody without straying unrecognizably from it. It is much easier for our finite human minds to start with the known and move to the unknown than to invent it.
A stereotype creates a firm foothold in a truly diverse world (as opposed to the monochromatic politically correct kind). A better stereotype gets you far closer to the truth than none. And attempts to rid the world of them will only produce a precipitous decline in the number of true Scotsmen.
|Not a true Scotsman, but a great stereotype.|