German Stereotypes

Kraft Klub (German band)

For foreigners

Germans are well aware that foreigners have tendencies to see them in certain ways.  Which region of the world they are dealing with has some influence of how they are seen.

They know that people to the West of Germany, especially French and English speaking peoples tend to jump to certain conclusions.  Some right, others wrong.

  1.  Germans are frightening powerful yet unpleasant and speak a difficult language that native speakers of English wouldn’t wish upon their worst enemies….except maybe the Germans (ha ha ?)
  2.  NaZi ism.  This is related to item #1, but also involves the perpetuation in the USA at least where there are very old Jewish people who’s native language is either German or Polish, who have American grandchildren.  They moved due to the NaZi Party.

3. Still related: in the USA for propaganda reasons, the vast majority of information        that Americans get about the Germans and the German language is WW2 re-runs.  Due to this most Americans only know a few German words they learned while watching WW2 related documentaries or TV shows or movies.

4.  Frau und frauline:  Germany is full of happy, blonde women with large breasts who serve beer for a living, at least until they get married and have children.

There are people who have a more current image of Germany.  In 2012 it was rated the most popular European country, internationally.

True Stuff about Germans

They can be rather serious, mostly because the Summer is not that warm and people can be hard.   German is not that easy to speak but when German there is no choice if one hopes to get anywhere in life.

Germans do tend to be proud but sometimes also uniquely sensitive.  They know that if they were not so great and powerful they would not be and have been so dominant in Europe both in peace time and in war time.  They know that both North American nations and the Russians viewed them as “the Villain” in 2 world wars.  Because of what they have been through as a people, they also feel that the nation degenerated to having been a menace for awhile….but Germans and what is Germany is really much more complicated….Given that the modern “German state” is about 120 years old, but there have been German speaking people living in the same region for 2000 years and more.  In fact, the “First Reich” really was 1000 years of Germany being a Catholic Empire and simultaneously the remainder of the Western Roman Empire.  *Personally, despite having learned this I find it hard to break through the American-Hollywood images of the Romans and of the Germans to accept this basic truth.

Germans have poor sense of humor.  Well, they don’t have the gentlest or most consistent senses of humor but I can assure you that they are less likely to laugh at jokes in English when travelling outside of Germany and dealing with using their “holiday English”.   I’m sure there are numerous incidents in which some German didn’t get the joke.

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Writer – Stereotypes

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Stereotypes 

The Drunk / The Poet

Made more common by the romantic English poets of the 1800s, one stereotype of writers, especially book authors and poetry chapbook writers – even more so, middle aged male poets, is that of a drunkard.  Sometimes the hung over person holds down a day job always hoping to earn more money selling chapbooks of poetry but forced to bar tend to earn a living.  In other cases, the stench of whiskey building up in the drunkard tends to improve the quality of the poetry to the dismay of everyone Godly, and to the not-alcoholic adult children and ex-spouse of the drunkard poet.

The Gossip / The Journalist

Journalists are not really writers;  they are gossips.  They are able to present themselves well and are eager for a story, but only a true news story.   While they are one of the best known and best paid types of writers, journalists are notoriously “not artists”, and due to that are as much weirdos compared to novelists as scientific illustrators and police sketch artists are compared to painters whose works end up sold in galleries, illustrators who work in comics and cartoons and so on.

Whereas a book author may spend months doing research in some of the world’s libraries, the journalists are on the telephone and rushing around, full of noise and energy, all to meet tight and real deadlines.

Journalists are also most likely to be guilty of something the poet would describe as a mortal sin: they shamelessly write for pay.  Many of them openly state that they write only because they get paid.

The Novelist

In this case there is more than one stereotype:

Rich and Happy

These authors are best sellers.  They have stable marriages in many cases.  They live in castles or mansions.  They may be average looking or handsome/beautiful.  They draw big crowds doing public speaking engagements and are consistently treated like adored and respected celebrities.  Many of them are fairly quiet and reserved, especially compared to the journalists, but are capable of being polite and friendly enough to be used as interview subjects by journalists.

Poor and Miserable

These are the majority of authors, who write or have written entire books only to find out that it is way harder to earn a lot of money for doing something major like writing books, than they had thought.  Most of this type of author fluctuates between lamenting suffering from the burden of being an author, and being forced to endure being an artist instead of having been one of the journalists or corporate communications people or happy to work in advertising firms and abusing their creativity for respectable salaries.

Some of these authors have jobs, and some don’t even have jobs because they are really novelists or nonfiction book writers, and aren’t good for much else.

Obsessed

These are the authors who suffer from compulsive writing, but they have a successful novel series and a good fan base.  Thanks to that, their mental illness is indulged, left untreated and viewed as a viable means of earning a living.  Such authors are often either treated as a celebrity or ignored.  The people who believe they love them the most really are the fans of the fictional worlds and characters they have created, putting them into a rather bizarre real world situation.

 

More on writer’s lives

Obviously, with writers, the inner life of the mind is considered important.    I would say, that the level of interest writers have in the real world may vary from writers who are keenly interested in the ordinary external realms of social relations and facts. 

People know that nonfiction can be education or entertainment.  Fiction is usually either entertainment or ‘edutainment’.   Fiction is also medicine to alleviate some of the trouble of dealing with real life.  Too much turns into unhealthy escapism but the right amount brings some relief and activity for the mind beyond one’s own inner worlds. 

Writers tend to be along the creative end of the spectrum, but if they make their money writing instruction manuals for products it may not seem that way. 

There may be some truths that go into creating author stereotypes but I’m not sure they are liable to any more or less true than other stereotypes. 

Authors have days when they need external privacy and to get more intimate with fictional characters who they themselves hope will never be real in the usual sense, but known as the fictional beings they are would be okay.    Authors also have days when what really matters to them is to be social in real life with good personal relationships.  So, don’t be surprised if you meet an author desperately interested in the real world as an escape from the amount of fiction with which he or she has been involved.  The same person, may also want to do only a little in real life but work on a pretend story on a different day.  I have no real statistical information regarding whether or not authors are more, equally or less weird than say, thespians or computer programmers.

Stereotypes: Germany & the USA etc

Recently I Facebooked a little bit about stereotypes.  I did have some stereotypes about Germans.  I assume that the Germans probably had some about Americans.  Most stereotypes have a grain of truth but do not apply thoroughly to the whole of a culture or people. 

Of course, the scary evil dark side of the Germans is the old 20th century WW stuff: dangerous people shouting a harsh sounding language…and something about NaZis and Jew genocide.  That’s the worst of it.

The less bad but still pretty bad?  No sense of humor, and they try to take all of Europe whenever they find the strength for it.  Still, that same rough language: one that doesn’t sound nice.  They believe in working all the time and are fanatical about punctuality to the point of being ‘politically dangerous’. 

The medium level stereotypes which are a little weird but not depressing or aggravating:  They work all the time.  They over engineer everything.  They are fanatics about detail.  Thorough to the point of a fault.  Weird language with grammar so complex, most of them can’t speak it properly – even with a good education.  For example: one of the few people who could actually use German correctly in the whole of the 19th century was GWF Hegel and almost no one can understand him, partly because he’s brilliant but partly because he made use of the ins and outs of high German grammar. 

They did not take naturally to democracy, and even 1300 years after the arrival of the Christian (and Jewish) message, they still doubt it and either ignore it as if they have lost interest or act like they’re still kicking the tyres – so to speak, to see if they want it. 

Here’s another stereotype of Germans:  this one is Southern: leather trousers in the Alps and yodelling…some lady with the tops of her breasts overflowing her blouse – even though she is at work, and BEER BEER BEER. 

How the ‘they work all the time’ and ‘BEER BEER BEER’ both happen…well…they’re a bit crazy.

Every culture is a bit insane, …I think most countries and cultures have a lot of sanity, but certain forms of dysfunction which are unique to the culture. 

I don’t know that much about stereotypes of Americans.  I heard that Americans are rumored to live on fast food and that back around 1970 some people thought all the Americans were rich, which wasn’t ever the truth, but we do try.  I heard that the English told their young “Don’t go to America; you will get shot.”  That’s really what it’s like there…so, apparently everyone has a gun and is trigger happy.

I had the feeling that in some nations, the Americans might all be believed to be whores.

Stereotypes of Americans abroad:  I think the one I most expect is the loud working class couple who forces American cash on the foreign waiters and only speak English.  If you don’t; it’s on you, not on the Americans.