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Some thoughts on stereotypes and shaming

June 17, 2012

If you’re Pakistani, especially from Karachi or Sindh, watch this first, then read the rest of the post.

I think this is really interesting. Not because it perpetuates false stereotypes (which it does, to an extent) but because it kind of acts as a shaming device – effectively dissuading those who ARE waderai ke betay (for no fault of their own,remember – we don’t get to choose which house we’re born into, and this rule applies equally to the rich and the poor) – effectively dissuading these guys from living up to the stereotypes.

What’s even more interesting is that the video suggests that people don’t face social consequences – ie that a waderai ka beta who flaunts and abuses power (and not all do of course) is just as successful when it comes to making friends and establishing healthy relationships as someone who is NOT.

However, and it’s also interesting to consider this in the following manner: if people are constantly reminded of the stereotypes that surround their identity, they are more likely to fulfill them – what academics refer to as identity/stereotype threat and self fulfilling prophecies.

I was reminded of this through this excellent talk* by Sendhil Mullainaithan and Eldar Shafir on decision-making and judgement under conditions of scarcity. In the intro, Sendhil talks about behavioural economics and brings up the role of identity threat in shaping behavior.

So if we’re calling out waderai ke betay and making fun of them for being rich and having guards (effectively ‘othering’ them, even those that don’t exploit their privilege), they might end up concluding that they don’t get any advantage from trying to be nice and it’s actually just easier and pays off more in the short term to be a jerk anyway.

I would love to know what the producers were thinking, and whether this is deliberately more than just making fun of others. From this interview, it doesn’t seem like it.

*The talk is worth watching on its own for how it forces one to think about poverty and the choices that people make…and if you feel pressed for time or have ever tried to lose weight, you’ll relate to it. It’s not just about poor people and the bad decisions they make. Watch this.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2012 1:08 am

    dude, it’s just FUNNY! we’ve studied with plenty of wadera kids – all the lyrics ring SO true. That’s exactly their attitude, they’re mostly spoilt brats who think they can stick anyone they want, its a super true-to-life hilarious depiction

    • June 17, 2012 9:55 am

      yeah,i know its just funny and probably meant to be nothing more,but i’m just speculating here…i was laughing out loud when i saw it too, but then i started thinking -could this be a way to stop them from sticking anyone they want?

  2. Butool permalink
    June 17, 2012 3:31 am

    Nabeel now you’re playing morality police just for the heck of it. it’s just a hilarious video. i didnt see you post anything when the ‘shit karachiites say/white girls say’ etc videos were circulating w. this video is no different. and i agree with the post above mine, this is a true-to-life depiction. if it gets them to mend their ways, great. or i think it might just crack them up. it is shot in a very light manner. dont read too much into it.

    • June 17, 2012 10:00 am

      Um, I don’t know where I’m moralizing – I’m not saying this video is good or bad per se, just expressing my opinion, which is actually positive. Just wondering about other consequences.

      i actually haven’t seen a single one of the ‘shit ___ says’ videos, and maybe if i had, i would have written about them.

      99% of the time i wouldn’t do anything but post this video online after watching it. as it happens, yesterday i had a long conversation with someone about the choices people make, ended up watching that video on decisionmaking, got thinking about identity threat (in a number of ways, actually – also in the context of Muslim women in the niqab, but that conversation isn’t relevant to this post)….and so when i watched this video, i was ‘primed’ to think about certain things.

      i’m sure it would crack most people up. not so sure about those that it is directed towards. have we considered that it could piss them off too?

      remind me to ask you before thinking about stuff ;)

  3. January 2, 2013 3:21 am

    It is TRUE

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