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Stock character

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A stock character is a stereotypical fictional person or type of person in a work of art such as a novel, play, or a film whom audiences recognize from frequent recurrences in a particular literary tradition. There is a wide range of stock characters, covering men and women of various ages, social classes and demeanors. They are archetypal characters distinguished by their simplification and flatness. As a result, they tend to be easy targets for parody and to be criticized as clichés. The presence of a particular array of stock characters is a key component of many genres, and they often help to identify a genre or subgenre. For example, a story with a knight-errant and a witch is probably a fairy tale or fantasy.

Stock characters play an important role in fiction, including in fairy tales, which use stock characters such as the damsel in distress and Prince Charming (pictured is Sleeping Beauty).

There are several purposes to using stock characters. Stock characters are a time- and effort-saving shortcut for story creators, as authors can populate their tale with existing well-known character types. Another benefit is that stock characters help to move the story along more efficiently, by allowing the audience to already understand the character and their motivations.

Contents

There is often confusion between stock characters, archetypes, stereotypes, and clichés. In part this confusion arises due to the overlap between these concepts. Nevertheless, these terms are not synonyms. The relationship is that basic archetypes (such as "hero" or "father figure") and stock characters (such as "damsel in distress" and "wise fool") are the raw source material that authors use to build on and create fleshed-out, interesting characters. In contrast, stereotypes and clichés are generally viewed as signs of "bad writing or shallow thinking". Some stereotypes, such as racial stereotype characters, may be offensive to readers or viewers.

According to Dwight V. Swain, a creative writing professor and prolific fiction author, all characters begin as stock characters and are fleshed out only as far as needed to advance the plot. E. Graham McKinley says "there is general agreement on the importance to drama of 'stock' characters. This notion has been considerably explored in film theory, where feminists have argued, female stock characters are only stereotypes (child/woman, whore, bitch, wife, mother, secretary or girl Friday, career women, vamp, etc.)." Ulrike Roesler and Jayandra Soni analyze "not only with female stock characters in the sense of typical roles in the dramas, but also with other female persons in the area of the theatrical stage..."

Andrew Griffin, Helen Ostovich, and Holger Schott Syme explain further that "Female stock characters also permit a close level of audience identification; this is true most of all in The Troublesome Raign, where the "weeping woman" type is used to dramatic advantage. This stock character provides pathos as yet another counterpoint to the plays' comic business and royal pomp."

Tara Brabazon discusses how the "school ma'am on the colonial frontier has been a stock character of literature and film in Australia and the United States. She is an ideal foil for the ill mannered, uncivilised hero. In American literature and film, the spinster from East – generally Boston – has some stock attributes." Polly Welts Kaufman shows that the schoolma'am's "genteel poverty, unbending morality, education, and independent ways make her character a useful foil for the two other female stock characters in Western literature: the prostitute with the heart of gold and the long-suffering farmer's wife.'"

Stock characters can be further identified as an alazon, the "impostor and self-deceiving braggart" in a story, or an eiron, a "self-derogatory and understating character".

American film

In American popular films, there a wide range of stock characters, which are typically used as non-speaking extras in the background, bit parts with a single line, minor secondary/supporting roles, or major secondary/supporting roles. Stock characters in American films have changed over the decades. A 1930s or 1940s film's stock characters include newspaper vendors, ice vendors, street sweepers, and cigarette girls; in contrast, a 1990s film has homeless "bag ladies", pimps, plainclothes police, business women, and Black and Hispanic stereotypes.

Stock characters in American popular culture, especially racial and ethnic stereotypes, often came to be seen as offensive in later decades and were replaced with new stereotypes. For example, the "lazy Black" and the "treacherous bespectacled Japanese" were replaced in the 1990s with the "street-smart Brother" and the "camera-happy Japanese tourist". Other groups reduced to stereotypes include women, Native Americans, Hispanics, Arabs, Gays/Lesbians, Jews, and Italians. Other briefly popular stock characters include the 1950s "overweight Communist cell leader" and the 1970s "Black Panther revolutionary".

Even in timeless occupations, the person in the job has changed, reflecting cultural and demographic changes. In the 1990s, a hairdresser (previously French) was often depicted as a gay man, a gardener (previously White) as Asian or Hispanic, a bartender (previously White) as Black, and a maid (previously Black) as Hispanic.

Television

Due to the scheduling constraints on television production, in which episodes need to be quickly scripted and shot, television scriptwriters often depend heavily on stock characters borrowed from popular film. TV writers use these stock characters to quickly communicate to the audience. In the late 1990s, there was a trend for screenwriters to add a gay stock character, which replaced the 1980s era's "African-American workplace pal" stock character. In the 1990s, a number of sitcoms introduced gay stock characters with the quality of the depictions being viewed as setting a new bar for onscreen LGBT depiction.

One challenge with the use of stock characters in TV shows is that, as with films, these stock characters can incorporate racial stereotypes, and "prejudicial and demeaning images". One concern raised with these gay stock characters is they tend to be shown as just advice-giving "sidekicks" who are not truly integrated into the narrative; as well, the gay character's life is not depicted, apart from their advice-giving interactions with the main characters. This also echoed the way that Black and Latino characters were used in 1980s and early 1990s shows: they were given a stock character role as a police chief, which in put them in a position of power, but then these characters were used as minor characters, with little narrative interaction with main characters. In the 2000s, with changing views on depicting race, Latino/a characters are both typecast into stock characters and the writers play with viewer expectations by making a seemingly stock Latino/a character act or behave "against type".

Southern sheriff stock characters are depicted with a negative stereotype of being obese, poorly trained, uneducated, and racist, as was done with Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard.

In the United States, courts have determined that copyright protection cannot be extended to the characteristics of stock characters in a story, whether it be a book, play, or film.

  1. Chris Baldick (2008). "stock character". The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford University Press. p. 317. ISBN 9780199208272. Retrieved22 January 2014.
  2. Kamesha Jackson (2010). "stock character". In Ronald L. Jackson II (ed.). Encyclopedia of Identity. Sage Publications. Retrieved22 January 2014.
  3. "Writing 101: The 12 Literary Archetypes". www.masterclass.com. Masterclass. Retrieved4 April 2020.
  4. "Writing 101: The 12 Literary Archetypes". www.masterclass.com. Masterclass. Retrieved4 April 2020.
  5. Swain, Dwight V. Creating Characters: How to Build Story People Writers Digest Books, 1990
  6. E. Graham McKinley, Beverly Hills, 90210: television, gender, and identity (1997), 19.
  7. Ulrike Roesler and Jayandra Soni, Aspects of the female in Indian culture: proceedings of the symposium in ... (2004), 119.
  8. Andrew Griffin, Helen Ostovich, and Holger Schott Syme, Locating the Queen's Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of ... (2009), 172.
  9. Tara Brabazon, Ladies who lunge: celebrating difficult women (2002), 147.
  10. Meyer H. Abrams and Geoffrey Galt Harpham. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 11th ed. (Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2015), 377.
  11. Loukides, Paul; Linda K. Fuller. Beyond the Stars: Stock characters in American popular film, Volume 1. Popular Press, 1990. p. 4
  12. Loukides, Paul; Linda K. Fuller. Beyond the Stars: Stock characters in American popular film, Volume 1. Popular Press, 1990. p. 5
  13. Loukides, Paul; Linda K. Fuller. Beyond the Stars: Stock characters in American popular film, Volume 1. Popular Press, 1990. p. 3
  14. Loukides, Paul; Linda K. Fuller. Beyond the Stars: Stock characters in American popular film, Volume 1. Popular Press, 1990. p. 3
  15. Loukides, Paul; Linda K. Fuller. Beyond the Stars: Stock characters in American popular film, Volume 1. Popular Press, 1990. p. 5
  16. Loukides, Paul; Linda K. Fuller. Beyond the Stars: Stock characters in American popular film, Volume 1. Popular Press, 1990. p. 5
  17. Loukides, Paul; Linda K. Fuller. Beyond the Stars: Stock characters in American popular film, Volume 1. Popular Press, 1990. p. 5
  18. Molina-Guzmán, Isabel. Latinas and Latinos on TV: Colorblind Comedy in the Post-racial Network Era. University of Arizona Press, Mar. 27, 2018 . p. 19.
  19. Molina-Guzmán, Isabel. Latinas and Latinos on TV: Colorblind Comedy in the Post-racial Network Era. University of Arizona Press, Mar. 27, 2018 . p. 19.
  20. Davis, Glyn; Gary Needham. Queer TV: Theories, Histories. Routledge, Dec. 3, 2008. p. 31
  21. Kessler, Kelly. "Politics of the Sitcom Formula: Friends, Mad About You and the Sapphic Second Banana". In The New Queer Aesthetic on Television: Essays on Recent Programming Ed. James R. Keller, Leslie Stratyner. McFarland, 2014. p. 130.
  22. Molina-Guzmán, Isabel. Latinas and Latinos on TV: Colorblind Comedy in the Post-racial Network Era. University of Arizona Press, Mar. 27, 2018 . p. 19.
  23. Davis, Glyn; Gary Needham. Queer TV: Theories, Histories. Routledge, Dec. 3, 2008. p. 31
  24. Davis, Glyn; Gary Needham. Queer TV: Theories, Histories. Routledge, Dec. 3, 2008. p. 31
  25. Molina-Guzmán, Isabel. Latinas and Latinos on TV: Colorblind Comedy in the Post-racial Network Era. University of Arizona Press, Mar. 27, 2018 . p. 19.
  26. Ely Jr., James W., Bradley G. Bond. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 10: Law and Culture. UNC Press Books, 2014. p. 60
  27. Nichols v. Universal Pictures Corp., 45 F.2d 119 (2d Cir. 1930).

Stock character
Stock character Article Talk Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Stock characters This article has multiple issues Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page Learn how and when to remove these template messages This article needs additional citations for verification Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed Find sources Stock character news newspapers books scholar JSTOR January 2014 Learn how and when to remove this template message The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject You may improve this article discuss the issue on the talk page or create a new article as appropriate December 2011 Learn how and when to remove this template message Learn how and when to remove this template message A stock character is a stereotypical fictional person or type of person in a work of art such as a novel play or a film whom audiences recognize from frequent recurrences in a particular literary tradition There is a wide range of stock characters covering men and women of various ages social classes and demeanors They are archetypal characters distinguished by their simplification and flatness As a result they tend to be easy targets for parody and to be criticized as cliches The presence of a particular array of stock characters is a key component of many genres and they often help to identify a genre or subgenre For example a story with a knight errant and a witch is probably a fairy tale or fantasy Stock characters play an important role in fiction including in fairy tales which use stock characters such as the damsel in distress and Prince Charming pictured is Sleeping Beauty There are several purposes to using stock characters Stock characters are a time and effort saving shortcut for story creators as authors can populate their tale with existing well known character types Another benefit is that stock characters help to move the story along more efficiently by allowing the audience to already understand the character and their motivations 1 2 Contents 1 Academic analysis 1 1 American film 1 2 Television 2 Copyright law 3 See also 4 ReferencesAcademic analysis EditThere is often confusion between stock characters archetypes stereotypes and cliches In part this confusion arises due to the overlap between these concepts Nevertheless these terms are not synonyms 3 The relationship is that basic archetypes such as hero or father figure and stock characters such as damsel in distress and wise fool are the raw source material that authors use to build on and create fleshed out interesting characters In contrast stereotypes and cliches are generally viewed as signs of bad writing or shallow thinking 4 Some stereotypes such as racial stereotype characters may be offensive to readers or viewers According to Dwight V Swain a creative writing professor and prolific fiction author all characters begin as stock characters and are fleshed out only as far as needed to advance the plot 5 E Graham McKinley says there is general agreement on the importance to drama of stock characters This notion has been considerably explored in film theory where feminists have argued female stock characters are only stereotypes child woman whore bitch wife mother secretary or girl Friday career women vamp etc 6 Ulrike Roesler and Jayandra Soni analyze not only with female stock characters in the sense of typical roles in the dramas but also with other female persons in the area of the theatrical stage 7 Andrew Griffin Helen Ostovich and Holger Schott Syme explain further that Female stock characters also permit a close level of audience identification this is true most of all in The Troublesome Raign where the weeping woman type is used to dramatic advantage This stock character provides pathos as yet another counterpoint to the plays comic business and royal pomp 8 Tara Brabazon discusses how the school ma am on the colonial frontier has been a stock character of literature and film in Australia and the United States She is an ideal foil for the ill mannered uncivilised hero In American literature and film the spinster from East generally Boston has some stock attributes Polly Welts Kaufman shows that the schoolma am s genteel poverty unbending morality education and independent ways make her character a useful foil for the two other female stock characters in Western literature the prostitute with the heart of gold and the long suffering farmer s wife 9 Stock characters can be further identified as an alazon the impostor and self deceiving braggart in a story or an eiron a self derogatory and understating character 10 American film Edit In American popular films there a wide range of stock characters which are typically used as non speaking extras in the background bit parts with a single line minor secondary supporting roles or major secondary supporting roles 11 Stock characters in American films have changed over the decades A 1930s or 1940s film s stock characters include newspaper vendors ice vendors street sweepers and cigarette girls in contrast a 1990s film has homeless bag ladies pimps plainclothes police business women and Black and Hispanic stereotypes 12 Stock characters in American popular culture especially racial and ethnic stereotypes often came to be seen as offensive in later decades and were replaced with new stereotypes For example the lazy Black and the treacherous bespectacled Japanese were replaced in the 1990s with the street smart Brother and the camera happy Japanese tourist 13 Other groups reduced to stereotypes include women Native Americans Hispanics Arabs Gays Lesbians Jews and Italians 14 Other briefly popular stock characters include the 1950s overweight Communist cell leader and the 1970s Black Panther revolutionary 15 Even in timeless occupations the person in the job has changed reflecting cultural and demographic changes 16 In the 1990s a hairdresser previously French was often depicted as a gay man a gardener previously White as Asian or Hispanic a bartender previously White as Black and a maid previously Black as Hispanic 17 Television Edit Due to the scheduling constraints on television production in which episodes need to be quickly scripted and shot television scriptwriters often depend heavily on stock characters borrowed from popular film 18 TV writers use these stock characters to quickly communicate to the audience 19 In the late 1990s there was a trend for screenwriters to add a gay stock character which replaced the 1980s era s African American workplace pal stock character 20 In the 1990s a number of sitcoms introduced gay stock characters with the quality of the depictions being viewed as setting a new bar for onscreen LGBT depiction 21 One challenge with the use of stock characters in TV shows is that as with films these stock characters can incorporate racial stereotypes and prejudicial and demeaning images 22 One concern raised with these gay stock characters is they tend to be shown as just advice giving sidekicks who are not truly integrated into the narrative as well the gay character s life is not depicted apart from their advice giving interactions with the main characters 23 This also echoed the way that Black and Latino characters were used in 1980s and early 1990s shows they were given a stock character role as a police chief which in put them in a position of power but then these characters were used as minor characters with little narrative interaction with main characters 24 In the 2000s with changing views on depicting race Latino a characters are both typecast into stock characters and the writers play with viewer expectations by making a seemingly stock Latino a character act or behave against type 25 Southern sheriff stock characters are depicted with a negative stereotype of being obese poorly trained uneducated and racist as was done with Sheriff Roscoe P Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard 26 Copyright law EditIn the United States courts have determined that copyright protection cannot be extended to the characteristics of stock characters in a story whether it be a book play or film 27 See also Edit Novels portal Archetype Character actor Cliche Commedia dell arte Dan Chinese opera Fantasy tropes Literary tropes Narratology Role reversal The Tough Guide To Fantasyland List of stock charactersReferences Edit Chris Baldick 2008 stock character The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms Oxford University Press p 317 ISBN 9780199208272 Retrieved 22 January 2014 Kamesha Jackson 2010 stock character In Ronald L Jackson II ed Encyclopedia of Identity Sage Publications Retrieved 22 January 2014 Writing 101 The 12 Literary Archetypes www masterclass com Masterclass Retrieved 4 April 2020 Writing 101 The 12 Literary Archetypes www masterclass com Masterclass Retrieved 4 April 2020 Swain Dwight V Creating Characters How to Build Story People Writers Digest Books 1990 E Graham McKinley Beverly Hills 90210 television gender and identity 1997 19 Ulrike Roesler and Jayandra Soni Aspects of the female in Indian culture proceedings of the symposium in 2004 119 Andrew Griffin Helen Ostovich and Holger Schott Syme Locating the Queen s Men 1583 1603 Material Practices and Conditions of 2009 172 Tara Brabazon Ladies who lunge celebrating difficult women 2002 147 Meyer H Abrams and Geoffrey Galt Harpham A Glossary of Literary Terms 11th ed Stamford CT Cengage Learning 2015 377 Loukides Paul Linda K Fuller Beyond the Stars Stock characters in American popular film Volume 1 Popular Press 1990 p 4 Loukides Paul Linda K Fuller Beyond the Stars Stock characters in American popular film Volume 1 Popular Press 1990 p 5 Loukides Paul Linda K Fuller Beyond the Stars Stock characters in American popular film Volume 1 Popular Press 1990 p 3 Loukides Paul Linda K Fuller Beyond the Stars Stock characters in American popular film Volume 1 Popular Press 1990 p 3 Loukides Paul Linda K Fuller Beyond the Stars Stock characters in American popular film Volume 1 Popular Press 1990 p 5 Loukides Paul Linda K Fuller Beyond the Stars Stock characters in American popular film Volume 1 Popular Press 1990 p 5 Loukides Paul Linda K Fuller Beyond the Stars Stock characters in American popular film Volume 1 Popular Press 1990 p 5 Molina Guzman Isabel Latinas and Latinos on TV Colorblind Comedy in the Post racial Network Era University of Arizona Press Mar 27 2018 p 19 Molina Guzman Isabel Latinas and Latinos on TV Colorblind Comedy in the Post racial Network Era University of Arizona Press Mar 27 2018 p 19 Davis Glyn Gary Needham Queer TV Theories Histories Routledge Dec 3 2008 p 31 Kessler Kelly Politics of the Sitcom Formula Friends Mad About You and the Sapphic Second Banana In The New Queer Aesthetic on Television Essays on Recent Programming Ed James R Keller Leslie Stratyner McFarland 2014 p 130 Molina Guzman Isabel Latinas and Latinos on TV Colorblind Comedy in the Post racial Network Era University of Arizona Press Mar 27 2018 p 19 Davis Glyn Gary Needham Queer TV Theories Histories Routledge Dec 3 2008 p 31 Davis Glyn Gary Needham Queer TV Theories Histories Routledge Dec 3 2008 p 31 Molina Guzman Isabel Latinas and Latinos on TV Colorblind Comedy in the Post racial Network Era University of Arizona Press Mar 27 2018 p 19 Ely Jr James W Bradley G Bond The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture Volume 10 Law and Culture UNC Press Books 2014 p 60 Nichols v Universal Pictures Corp 45 F 2d 119 2d Cir 1930 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Stock character amp oldid 1057330587, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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