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Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:00 pm by Dan

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The Looking Class

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The Looking Class

Post  Dan on Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:44 am

Stereotyping is a strong feature of human nature.
Although most people are self aware enough to at least be on guard for
it, we are influenced to some degree regardless of our diligence.

Casting directors make use of stereotyping in hiring actors. Movie
companies would go out of business if casting did not take into account
the appearance of an actor.

Imagine the following actors in the title role for the movies listed below.

Woody Allen as Mad Max

Robbie Benson as the Terminator

Gary Coleman in Born Romantic

I'm not suggesting that Woody Allen, Robbie Benson, or Gary Coleman
are not fine actors. But it is obvious the movies would have been flops
if these actors were in the lead roles.

That's fine because there is an understanding that the audience
expects a specific look to a person in a role. Dracula would not have
been a scary movie to generations of kids if Bud Abbot had played
Dracula.

The point is that we accept stereotyping in movies because it contributes to fulfilling our need to suspend belief.

But what about outside of the theater? In our jobs. Are we "filling roles" like central casting when we hire or promote people?

I believe we do. If you were to take a look at the mall janitors in
your city, I would imagine there would be few you could picture looking
natural in a business suit.

I believe we carry our need to suspend belief into areas where it
does not belong and mimic the casting call when we should be looking
closer than skin deep.

A wake up call in my opinion would be to "suspend belief" for a bit
sometime and take stock of the people in your place of employment;
their role, their appearance, and review the "actors" for
appropriateness of their part.

My prediction is that everyone looks the part. The people who would
be naturals for casting a remake of Grapes of Wrath are not management
except on a lower level over people similar in appearance.

The higher a person goes up the ladder, the more their appearance fits
their actual role in terms of casting people for believability in your
imaginary movie.

What brings it home is that although you didn't hire these people for their real job, their appearance still fits.

Dan
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