What is a stereotype? I don't know. Is there any relationship between a stereotype and an archetype? I don't know. What I do know is that most people think a stereotype is something bad, insulting, unflattering or undesirable, and often conclude that such a thing could not possibly have any relationship to anything of archetypal influence like a tarot card. But why? Why can't archetypal influence contribute as much to the definition of something undesirable, unflattering, or insulting as it does to things that are considered desirable, flattering or complimentary? Personally, I do not see much difference at all between something theorized to be of archetypal influence, like an icon of tarot, and what most people label as an insulting stereotype, which is itself often very iconic and representative of archetypal influences. As I see it, the perceptions that people have concerning the differences between these two comes from two important considerations working off each other: the intent of an author, vs. the perception of a viewer.
In our ongoing interpretation of meaning, those who prefer to internalize the meaning of everything they see might view the contributions of authors to be of minimal interest. People who follow the internalization path typically decide for themselves if something is good or bad, and do not allow the intent of an author to influence them that much. But I see the determination of good and bad as a give and take struggle. Meaning... if someone knows that the intent of an author was to present something good, in a good way, it might mitigate their perception of how bad it seems to them. Likewise, if they know the intent of an author was to present something bad in a bad way, it might limit the amount of positive "spin" they put on something. Below is a chart to show how I see this give and take exchange working in the creation of good and bad icons of archetypal influence... or good archetypes and bad archetypes... or... a bad disparaging epitome versus a good flattering epitome.
Once a moral valuation has been determined, that valuation can be applied to the subject of human character to determine if something is an insulting stereotype or not.
Basically the Valuation Equation chart, shown above, says: Intent vs. Perception = Value. My intent, vs. someone else's perception, determines the good or bad value of something within any given context. Thus... I believe that anyone who might accuse someone of perpetuating an insulting stereotype within their tarot deck, is simply expressing their 'Moral Perception' within this Valuation Equation, and would do well to also consider the 'Author's Moral Intent,' before making a value judgment. I also believe that people who refuse to allow an Author's Moral Intent to influence them in making a value judgment are being narrow minded. Which makes them not much better than the person they are accusing of malicious stereotyping!
A stereotype might be mean, but... whether someone is maliciously stereotyping or not, labels happen. People fall into types, whether we like it or not. For the most part, it can't be helped. In falling into types, some might not like the labels that get attached to them. Others might welcome the labels that get attached to them, seeing them as liberating... or as a comfortable form of establishing a desired identity. Either way, no kind of label will ever be a complete picture of who we are. We will always be individuals... individuals, with multiple facets, like a diamond... each facet getting a label to describe it, in order to differentiate it from the others. Thus... the facet that we most frequently face forward to the world (our persona), will be the label that gets used most often to describe us - like it or not. But that does not mean that other facets don't exist. It just means that it's up to each individual diamond to sparkle as much as it can. Those that don't sparkle, run the risk of being stereotyped with limiting labels.
Lots of people use frequency of occurrence throughout cultures as an important part of their definition of what an archetype is... by pointing to how often certain personality types reappear within and between cultures, and thereby contribute to the idea of what Carl Jung called a collective unconscious, or what this study of consciousness calls a Universal Consciousness. In defining these icons of archetypal influence, very short and simple descriptions usually follow: the Mother figure, the Father figure, the Sage, the Fool, the Outlaw, the Explorer, the Hero, the Lover etc. These are not complex, elaborate multi-faceted descriptions, they are very limited. In defining a stereotype, many claim that stereotypes are insulting because they are limited descriptions. If lack of complexity defines something as an insulting stereotype, then how do we locate the threshold between a complex character that is the embodiment of archetypal influence, vs. a less complex character that is an alleged stereotype? Any time someone describes a "type" of person, a person who is that "type" can come forward to declare that that is not all they are about, and that the person describing them is insulting them by focusing on limited parts of who they are. So how much do we have to show, to not be in violation? Who decides how much we have to show to not be in violation?
The movie "The Breakfast Club" dealt with High School stereotypes. It had an assortment of characters that we see recurring again and again in our culture. They were summed up with very short descriptive titles: The Brain, The Jock, The Criminal, The Princess, The Basket Case... and The Authoritarian as portrayed by the oppressive teacher. I knew types like the ones in the Breakfast Club movie, when I was in high school. Sometimes their character was a phony facade. Sometimes it was accurate to who they really were, whether there were more facets to their personality or not. So what's the difference between an insulting stereotype and someone expressing who they are by acquiring the telltale signs of a particular type? Don't people just sort of fall into the type they are, and then go about displaying who they are with appearances and attitudes that are typical of that type? Isn't that just putting their archetypal essence first, before the full complexity of their character? Everyone is a hybrid of types, with incomprehensible complexity. Often one facet emerges as dominant. What is so bad about focusing on the dominant archetypal influence of someone, separate from their other facets?
If limiting the complexity of a character is to be considered evil, shouldn't we be declaring every formulaic movie clichè as grounds for objection? If we did, what percentage of movies would we consider to be clichè - i.e. using stereotypes or formulaic plot lines with formulaic characters? I'd say... quite a few! So the question remains... how much showing of a character is required to not be accused of stereotyping? And if someone creates a character with enough complexity to not be seen as a stereotype, don't we end up with a character that is a hybrid of multiple influences? Wouldn't a character that is a complex hybrid of influence be less "essential" or "fundamental" and as a result be seen as more of a "compound?" Wouldn't being a compound make that character more removed from that of archetypal essence? Conversely, doesn't limiting the complexity of a character reduce it to a truer more fundamental essence of archetypal influence? Wouldn't that make it a well defined character... archetypally speaking?
EVERYONE wears a costume that says something about them that is not a complete picture of who they are. In a similar manner, characters in a theatre wear costumes to help the audience know who they are. In the end, aren't we all just walking stereotypes, being judged unfairly by people every day of the week? Isn't it the people in the audience of our theatre who are guilty of disregarding what lies beneath? If we are all wearing costumes of our own choosing, to identify who we are to the world, and we choose to view those costumes as stereotypes that categorize us unfairly, what do we call something that FAIRLY categorizes and judges us? What do we call a character, in a movie or someone in real life, that is a shining example, or the quintessence of something... meaning... not a complex and layered hybrid, but something that is simple and true to a fundamentally inspired influence that is archetypal? Simple, obvious, and easy to understand... is that always going to be viewed as an insulting stereotype? Or would that be considered a flattering stereotype? If a character is necessary to a story, but there is no time to develop complex layers and show what's beneath the surface, is it automatically an insulting stereotype? If someone is trying to be simple, for the sake of children, is every character they create automatically considered an insulting stereotype? Let's pretend that our goal is to tell a story that kids will like, with simply drawn characters that they can easily understand, are they all insulting stereotypes... just because they are not complex?
The point of the Breakfast Club movie was to show how the costumes that people wear are not all they are about. But, at the same time... the costumes they wore were accurate to part of what they were about. So, it was the people within the movie, and the people in the audience, who were categorizing and judging unfairly. But regardless of whether any judging was occurring or not, the costumes were not inaccurate, and... they did not go away at the end of the movie. Each character remained a representation of their type, in spite of all the showing of other facets to their existence. Their dominant facet did not go away. It remained forward as a primary representation of their persona, and they took on a certain pride in their defined identity with that major facet. Which begs the question of... what would happen if someone were to take those same characters, and instead of writing a story about how hurt they felt by the limited descriptions they had fallen into, what if they wrote a story about how they all worked together as a team to solve crimes or something? What if we changed the story to be about how each character's stereotypical presentation of personality is utilized, like a specialist, to help a team? The Brain is the brains of the operation. The Jock is the muscle. The Criminal is a deceiver. The Princes is a beguiler. And... before we know it, It's starting to sound like an episode of the old TV show Mission Impossible. Hmmm, the TV show Mission Impossible: insulting stereotypes, or specialists, utilizing their primary archetypal influence to its best advantage?
Every archetype becomes a stereotype and every stereotype reduces to an archetype.
A stereotype is an archetype wearing the limited clothing of a particular group.
Stereotyping links a single person with a group with which they may or may not want to be associated. Take "The Jock" from "The Breakfast Club" as an example. Some people don't mind having the label Jock attached to them, because it implies some athletic prowess that they already know they are guilty of flaunting and are very much proud of. Others might take it as an insult, thinking that it implies that someone is all muscle and no brains. Stereotyping is... typing, or type casting... saying to an individual that they are such-n-such a type, based on an always limited amount of observed characteristics, or known associations. Our observations may be limited, or inaccurate, or unfair, or they may be spot on. In any case, whatever label we put on someone will not be complete. Such is true of verbal labels, as well as visual labels, or... how we portray archetypal influence in the iconic images of a tarot deck. Because... when it comes time to actually interpret archetypal influences into the visual image of an icon on a tarot card, an artist, no matter how good they are, eventually has to make decisions about what to draw, as a representation of what they archetypally "see." They have to make decisions about costume, pose, props, facial expression, backgrounds, historical time frame etc. Each and every one of those decisions imposes a personal bias, and limits the range of expression for that image. No drawing can say everything an artists wants it to say, so every drawing could ultimately be criticized as being an insulting, limited stereotype, or some other grotesque attempt to categorize and label different types in limited ways. It doesn't matter if it is a flattering image or an insulting image... as an iconic image, with costume, pose, props, expressions, backgrounds, historical time frame etc. it is a grotesquely limited expression. That's why I don't see much difference between an anthropomorphized icon of archetypal influence on a tarot card, and a so called stereotype. Every archetypally refined image is a stereotype!
The Ugly Truth
Telling someone that they fit such-n-such a stereotype my be taken as insulting or not. An insult may have been intended or not. According to the Valuation Equation chart, if someone with intent, and someone else's perception both agree that something is not insulting, then it's a Good Flattering Epitome, if someone with intent, and someone else's perception both agree that something is insulting, then it's a Bad Disparaging Epitome. In either case, by being archetypally inspired, BOTH outcomes will be seen as expressing archetypal influences i.e. recurring patterns seen over and over again within and between cultures and times. Or, in the case of human embodiments, recurring patterns of behavior that are seen over and over. Whether a flattering label, or an unflattering label, a person could object to either one as being inaccurate to the totality of who they are. Thus I conclude that a stereotype can point very accurately to recurring archetypal patterns as much as anything. I also think a stereotype can go to the heart of a matter just as much as anything. The ugly truth hurts, it cuts right to the bone. Ask anyone who has had an unflattering stereotype attached to them. Stereotypes often depict an ugly side of life, or are used when someone's intent is bad. That, to many, is their purpose. But, I propose, that their purpose or intended usage does not make them any less archetypal.
|Don't confuse a harmless stereotype with harmful stereotyp-ING
If my intent is to depict the embodiment of archetypal influences in a way that does not intend to exalt the human condition, but instead has the desire to depict the worst of our human condition, what do we call that archetypally inspired portrayal? Every culture has unseemly or undesirable characters in their mythology and their history. Undesirable characters are often portrayed as stupid, ugly, mean, weak, suspicious, wretched, destructive etc. etc. What do we call a malicious, ugly, representation that is drawn from an archetypal representation of recurring patterns seen throughout cultures and times? No such thing? Because it happens to be a character that no one would ever want to be, it can't be archetypal? I don't think so. The ugly truth may hurt, and we can apply the label of stereotype to it as a way of pushing it away in denial. But I believe archetypal influence does not know the difference between good and bad, and will always provide a source for whatever sensibilities we need to express. We then use those anthropomorphized expressions as we see fit, to help or hurt... to describe the best of life or the worst of life. Some of us then use them to describe each other in very limited, and sometimes insultingly brief ways.
Thus... the problem with stereotyp-ING is in how some people will neglect or refuse to update their perceptions of people as they get to know them... or... will refuse to get to know them altogether. By refusing to move beyond the limited descriptions of a stereotype, an otherwise harmless application of a stereotype becomes a harmful application of a stereotype. People who are using a stereotype to vilify an enemy will refuse to get to know their enemy, and will instead prefer to impose the limited, unflattering stereotypes of their race, culture or nation as a way of degrading them. While for other people, the use of a stereotype might actually help in making accurate assumptions about the overall character of a person from a particular race, culture or nation, that can then be updated and modified as more information is acquired. It's not evil to make an assumption about someone if we are flexible enough to discard anything that does not fit as soon as we learn more. It is when we do not discard the things that don't fit, and insist that someone is something that they are not that we cross a line with our intent.
A Delicate Balance
So what is a stereotype? And what is the difference between a harmless stereotype and the sometimes harmful act of stereotyping? If we look at common dictionary definitions, the term stereotype is often portrayed with benign language that does not suggest anything malicious:
"A conventional or formulaic conception or image" - Dictionary.com.
"Sociology. a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group: The cowboy and Indian are American stereotypes" - Dictionary.com
However... if we were to ask people for their definition of stereotyp-ING, we might get some different results. To many the act of stereotyp-ING means:
"To pre-judge, discriminate, humiliate or degrade, based on the limited information gained from a stereotype" - Popular Definition
Thus we define a very crucial difference between the noun "stereotype" and the verb "stereotyping" and in doing so give even more weight to the suggested use of the Valuation Equation chart. Because... based on a dictionary definition of stereotypes, it sounds like a stereotype doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Looks like it can just mean formulaic, conventional, and... who knows, maybe even archetypal. Personally, I don't see being formulaic as intrinsically evil or degrading to the human condition. Which demonstrates, once again, how important it is to consider the intent of an author in matters as delicate as when we should take offense and when we should not. If an author's intent is to degrade the human condition, or attack a specific group or type of people, then a conventional, formulaic depiction that accentuates the undesirable characteristics would be effective. However, if that author is writing a sit-com for television, or a comedy sketch for the stage, maybe their intent is to look at a group of people in a harmlessly humorous way, where formulaic depictions that accentuate common human foibles are often effective.
There is quite a bit of humor in the world that is based upon the good-natured ridicule of each others human foibles. People laugh at each other, and they laugh at themselves. It is healthy to laugh at ourselves and our human foibles. Some may think it unfortunate when they realize how much humor is rooted in ridicule and might wish to eliminate such acts from the world stage forever. But human foibles will never go away, and laughing at them seems to be therapeutic to not taking ourselves so seriously as to cause undo stress. The phenomenon of Schadenfreude, or feeling better by either viewing someone else who is worse off, or making someone look worse through humorous ridicule will probably also never go away. The problem with humor is in getting the correct balance between sender and receiver within a given context - as suggested in the Valuation Equation chart. For example: Lots of people laugh at Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a Redneck" jokes. Those are stereotypes, and he - to one degree or another - is stereotyping. Lots of the people who laugh, are laughing because they see themselves, or people they know and love, but who have foibles that are worthy of jest because of inherent peculiarities. It's good to laugh at ourselves. And in the right room, those jokes work well. It is considered harmless teasing. On the other hand, if someone said "We should kill all rednecks" and used Jeff Foxworthy's jokes to help people identify them, ridicule them, and vilify them, that would be an evil use of stereotyping. Thus, intent, perception and context combine to define the good or bad of an archetypally inspired icon of humanity.
|Offense begins where humor ends.
Professional comedians are very familiar with the idea of intent, perception and context being out of balance or in perfect balance. They will craft a joke - often crafted around laughing at the human foibles of a stereotype - and perform that joke in front of many audiences. The intent is always the same - a joke... not malicious degradation or bigotry. But different audiences, in different context situations will laugh or not laugh. Sometimes people who fit the stereotype will laugh, sometimes they will take offense and not laugh. Offense begins where humor ends. If the joke is poorly crafted, and sounds too much like intended bigotry, or ignorant insensitive mockery rather than good-natured humor, a person's ability to suspend offense will be strained. Pushing that envelope is what comedians do. Sometimes they push too far and their intent is misread and perceived to be malicious. If the context is also off - like, maybe, a stuffy fundraising dinner at a hotel rather than a wild comedy club in the city - they might be taken to be malicious and booed off stage. But, if the joke is creatively crafted, and sounds like a joke, a person's ability to suspend offense and welcome a laugh will be enhanced. We choose to take offense or not.
|Don't confuse harmful stereotyping with harmless clowning or teasing
That's right... we choose to take offense, or not, when we see someone utilizing a stereotype. Sometimes it seems clear that any reasonable person would agree with us that such-n-such a use of stereotyping is offensive. Other times, individuals choose to be offended, for their own personal reasons. People who choose to be offended are often driven by their ego and a sometimes very territorial need to affirm their identity in the world. When someone essentially affirms the "wrong" identity by presenting an unflattering stereotype that was born from the race, culture or nation that someone else is using to establish their identity and build their ego, people with a strong territorial ego will often take offense. This is why the Valuation Equation is so important. Because... a person with a strong territorial ego and an unhealthy, insecure need to establish an identity, can, at times, take offense where no offense was intended. In this way, these defensive people can do as much harm to the person utilizing a stereotype as the person utilizing a stereotype could ever do to the insecure person driven by their territorial ego. Thus, the Valuation Equation serves to establish both intent as well as the possibility of insecure, territorial, ego-driven perceptions that all too easily take offense. In this way, stereotyping can, if we choose, be seen as a great lesson in unhealthy ego identification and the mistake of taking ourselves too seriously. Something that comedians and other people who utilize stereotypes as icons of humanity often intend for us to see in ourselves.
In the end though, flattering stereotypes or unflattering stereotypes... used in comedy or drama... perceived as malicious or humorous... it doesn't matter, one could well argue that they are all drawn from archetypal influences, and in that way are as cross cultural as anything. Take those Breakfast Club characters. The movie review that I read called them stereotypes. But doesn't every school in every culture have a "brainy" type? Doesn't every culture have a rebellious or "criminal" type? Doesn't every culture have a "jock" type? Each expression of a jock might not dress exactly like the jock in the movie, but one who focuses on the physical and athletic, possibly to the detriment of their intellect, is probably a pretty universal type. Same with the "princess" stereotype. Doesn't every culture have its share of princesses who obsess over perfect appearances? Aren't these so called stereotypes drawing on some pretty universal patterns of behavior seen across a multitude of cultures throughout history? Wouldn't that universality and frequency of occurrence make them archetypally inspired stereotypes?
Formulaic Halloween Fun!
I've been told that if I want my deck to have strong appeal, it has to be an accurate representation of recurring patterns in life. I agree, and I think it is! In fact... in order to prove the validity of that opinion I would challenge anyone to a simple test of tarot decks! To frame the parameters of this challenge, I would point to the idea of how costumes worn by tarot icons, as well as actual living breathing humans, reveal their archetypal associations, and would subsequently bet anyone that kids, trying to choose a costume for Halloween would understand the icons in my deck much easier, and in less time, than the icons of most traditional tarot cards! I think a lot of people forget how utterly esoteric traditional tarot images appear to people at first glance. While on the other hand, every Halloween, kids dress up as Beauty or Beast, Hero or Villain, Wizard or Witch, Angel or Devil, God or Ghoul. These are all characters from my decks! Thus, I would challenge anyone to walk into any Halloween costume shop and ask for a costume that represents any of these icons - either by name or by my drawn image... I bet they'll have them all, ready to go. Then... ask them for their "Hanged Man" costume, or their "Chariot" costume, or their "Judgment" costume. Show them the tarot card for each one. Ask to see their "Temperance" costume, or "Wheel of Fortune," or "Tower,' or "World."
People who don't like my decks, because of how they portray both the light side of life as well as the dark side of life, might accuse them of including insulting stereotypes that represent an oversimplified view with a prejudiced attitude. Does that mean that when someone sends their little girl out for Halloween dressed as a Beauty, or an Angel or a Witch, they are using their child to express an oversimplified view, with a prejudiced attitude? When they send their little boy out for Halloween dressed as a Wizard, Devil or Beast are they teaching their children how to stereotype, and showing the neighborhood what prejudiced bigots they are? Is Halloween one of those archaic practices that is no longer politically correct and should be abolished? Should we picket the costume stores and demand that they burn all of these evil stereotypes? I don't think so.
Personally, I don't do Halloween at all. But the few time that I ever did, it seemed like the objective was to dress as something scary. Some people just dress as something funny. Other people dress as some kind of alter-ego. But usually the idea is to be scary. Some people do that using tried and true methods of old, dressing as fictional monsters, ghostly apparitions, zombies, skeletons or other such agents of death. Other people look around at more current and topical "agents of death" or just plain "scary people or things" of the day. Ripped right from the headlines, people dress as something that has been portrayed in the popular culture of our times as evil and menacing. Often it is these topical portrayals of evil that many people find offensive as insulting stereotypes. Often times, people just follow or pick up on a stereotype and use it without any concern at all for who might view it as offensive. The question, I think, is whether these types of portrayals should NECESSARILY and ALWAYS be taken as personal insults or attacks against their respective race, culture or nation.
As mentioned above, every race, culture and nation produces icons of humanity for all to observe. Labels just happen. Sometimes they come about with the help of people outside the race, culture or nation making observations - either innocently, maliciously or humorously - and declaring their observations to be iconic. Sometimes the race, culture or nation produces icons of humanity with no help from outside sources. Either way, once an icon of humanity enters the world stage, it usually can't be erased, it's recorded by history. Like words spoken, they can't be taken back. Each race, culture or nation is therefore forced to own the icons of humanity that it births onto the world stage - for better or worse... whether they be flattering or unflattering. In all cases, these icons of humanity remain incomplete descriptions of the entire population of a race, culture or nation - whether flattering or unflattering. Unfortunately... as discussed above, people often use the less flattering icons of a particular race, culture or nation as a way of suggesting that all the people of that particular race, culture or nation are as awful in character as the icon of humanity their race, culture or nation has produced. Sometimes this is done with additional exaggeration and distortions, sometimes for humorous effect, other times for malicious effect. Other times a stereotype is an accurate portrayal of the original icon. These unflattering portrayals - whether accurate or not to the original icon of humanity that was produced - is what most people mean when the use the word stereotyping. The question at hand is whether dressing as an icon of humanity created by a particular race, culture or nation NECESSARILY implies statements of stereotyping. Or... can a person simply utilize a particular race's, or culture's or nation's icon of humanity to express an aspect of humanity purely for the sake of expressing an aspect of humanity? Does such an expression ALWAYS have to be taken as an insulting indictment of an entire race, culture or nation?
In the case of Halloween costumes I think the context needs to be acknowledged, and the intent needs to be known before any accusations of stereotyping can be made. And I think that all too often, people who object to the use of unflattering icons of humanity are ignoring the context and making assumptions about intent that might not be accurate. They have a desire to distance themselves from an unflattering or otherwise limited icon of humanity that their race, culture or nation produced, but that they feel does not fit their character, and that they would like to see erased from the world stage forever so that it can't be used against them as an insult. Is that possible? It might be possible to correct some of the inaccurate or exaggerated portrayals, but can they completely erase an icon of humanity from the world stage and all of history forever? These people who take offense at any usage of their unflattering icons of humanity are in essence asking the rest of us to help them erase this unflattering image from the world stage by never using it. Are we obliged to consent? Or can we use these icons of humanity as icons of humanity, with a clear conscience, knowing that such unflattering characterizations will never cease to exist, and are indeed helpful to any and all discussions about the darker side of humanity itself?
Dressing up in costumes, whether as actors on a literal stage or a Halloween persona on a world stage, is all about expressing aspects of humanity... often via the readily accessible and easily recognizable icons of various races, cultures and nations. The simplicity and therefore limited scope of some of these easily recognizable icons further insults those who would rather not have them around, because of how simple and limited in character they make them look when people use them in harmful ways. But there are times when using a simple icon is more effective at conveying an aspect of humanity than developing a complex multi-faceted character that is harder for a particular audience to figure out. Halloween is one of those times when easy recognition is desired. As mentioned above, children's cartoons are another stage where simple icons of humanity get used and occasionally result in accusations of abusive stereotyping when the icons in question are seen as unflattering or limited. Again, a lot of popular humor is also guilty of using simplified imagery in order to impact an audience in easy and accessible ways. Halloween is itself designed to elicit laughter by way of the often silly displays of costumes.
Can we really ever escape the unflattering icons of humanity that our own race, culture and nation produce, and that we are all forced to live under while crossing the world stage of life? Does EVERY utterance of those unflattering icons HAVE to be taken as a personal insult... EVERY time... in EVERY context? It would be nice if people never utilized the unflattering, limited icons of humanity, either maliciously, ignorantly, humorously or even pragmatically, as a means of discussing or portraying humanity itself. But it seems unrealistic to think that they would ever go completely away, and not ever be utilized in any way. We would have to throw away a HUGE chunk of mythology, folklore, literature and humor to do so. Maybe instead we should just acknowledge that like the individual humans we are, our race, culture and nations will always have their dark side and human foibles that invite ridicule - either good-natured or malicious. Halloween is largely about expressing that dark side of life - with good-natured humor. That's the context. Icons of humanity are the content. Halloween is a time when we are meant to embrace that dark side and laugh at it, as a way of dealing with it. In this way, Halloween demonstrates how important context is to determining the good or bad of something. If unflattering icons of humanity were being used to convince us that a particular race, culture or nation of people were undesirable and therefore ought to be extinguished, that would be a completely different context with a completely different outcome on the Valuation Equation chart. Either way, one could still argue that icons of humanity that are archetypal are archetypal whether used to harm or help.
The idea behind archetypal influence is that it influences ALL human expressions
that includes expressions of bigotry.
The idea behind archetypal influence is that it transcends ALL cultures
that includes a culture of bigotry.
Archetypal influence can manifest in flattering ways or unflattering ways;
in the service if describing desirable or undesirable characteristics;
with an intent to help or hurt.
The archetypal armature of primordial patterns does not know the difference;
we are connected to these patterns regardless of our manifest usage.
Are the icons of humanity being used in The Numerical Tarot stereotypes? I think... in the best possible way, they might well be. Because of things like Halloween, they certainly repeat every year, like a fixed or general pattern. They are all conventional or formulaic conceptions or images... or standardized mental pictures that are held in common by members of a group i.e. just about everyone! I think that makes them not only stereotypical, but also very archetypal ! A stereotype may be insulting at times. But I don't see being formulaic and conventional in the personification of an archetypal pattern as insulting. People may prefer multivalent symbols, and multifaceted personalities, because they are more interesting to study. But to really get at the true essence of something, I believe we really can't beat simplicity. To me formulaic means simple. A formula is also a pattern. If I am trying to convey to someone the essence of a basic, simple, primordial pattern, why not be formulaic? To me conventional means patterned. If I want someone to have immediate recognition of what I'm saying, why not be conventional, instead of esoteric? Formulaic and conventional might have some bad connotations among those striving to be unique, but I believe the idea of using very simply crafted, highly recognizable personifications as representations of essential patterns is a sound practice. If people see that as insulting, and don't want to see is as archetypal, that's fine with me, but I would not agree that it is necessarily evil, and definitely not inaccurate. We all see the characters in my tarot deck again and again and again... every Halloween, and throughout all of our movies, books, plays and costumed mythology.
Icons of Tarot
In conclusion... I think the limitations of our language are at fault here. If the image is not an archetype, but only archetypally inspired, then what is it? What do we call these conventional, formulaic, ever-repeating personifications of archetypally inspired essence? Some call them icons, reserving stereotype for insulting intent. I say we call them all stereotypes if they fit the criteria of being archetypally inspired and seen throughout cultures and times. I say we call them stereotypes, regardless of how someone might use them to flatter or insult. By this criteria, I think the so called stereotypes of The Breakfast Club are archetypally inspired.
In my opinion... the so called stereotypes from The Breakfast Club movie are pointing to archetypally inspired notions that I believe to be isomorphically identical to that of common tarot cards. The Brain points to the same use of intellect as The Magician. The Jock points to the same ideas of power and influence as The Emperor. The Princess points to the same ideas of sensitivity and perfection embodied by The Empress. The Criminal points to ideas of deceptive behavior and evil influence embodied by The Devil. The Basket Case hides under her hood and hair, like a High Priestess under her veils. And The Authoritarian teacher points to the word of law embodied within the Hierophant. I think it would be rather simple to conclude that because a characterization is unflattering, disparaging or used to hurt, that it can't be archetypal, or point to archetypal influences. But that is an opinion coming from a perspective that views an archetype as a primordial pattern and not the anthropomorphized icon, or manifest image seen on a card. I see the Breakfast Club characters as the embodiment of the same primordial patterns as their associated tarot icons. The way I see it, the evils of stereotyping enter the equation by intent, perception and context, which is why I invented the Valuation Equation chart. Please us it, before calling anything an insulting stereotype or accusing anyone of malicious stereotyping.