Stereotyping in films is unfortunate but it does happen. Sometimes it is done on purpose to make a point or to simply entertain without the notion of getting things right. Other times the film seems poised to do something great with an Irish tilt but goes so far over the top that they wind up killing the point and alienating a large section of their fan base. One of the most irritating things for anyone watching a film with Irish characters is that the accent is almost never done correctly no matter how good of an attempt is made. Honestly it has to be frustrating to see your own nationality being butchered in film.
So how bad do movies stereotype the Irish?
They’re all lazy drunkards.
This stereotype has more to do with the drinking than the implied laziness. It also has a lot to with geographical setting and the community in which the character is placed. The drunken Irishman or the man or woman that fancies their drink a little too much is an overplayed and highly romanticized aspect of many films that seems to gloss over the fact that while the Irish are known for drinking, few of them are truly lazy and not that many are full on drunkards.
They’re always ready to fight.
Irishmen in films always seemed poised on the edge of a knife at times when it comes to conflict. It doesn’t matter if they’re relaxed, laid back, or nearly asleep. If someone rattles them for any reason they’re ready to throw down and have at it. In real life this isn’t the case. Just like anyone an Irishman can be reasonable and actually talk things out rather than allow a situation to simply devolve into a physical contest in which few if any people ever really win.
Many of them have red hair.
This stereotype is fading thank goodness. For a long time it was assumed that anyone with red hair must have a little Irish in them. Red hair was also something you would see in films as identifying a man or woman as Irish in some manner. It didn’t really matter if they were poor or rich, the red hair always meant that they had Irish in them. As a matter of fact however, to dispute this idea, red hair has actually been linked more with those of Scottish descent.
A lot of Irish are always happy go lucky.
That’s like saying an American is always ambitious and in a hurry. It’s just not true. The attitudes and mannerisms of an entire country cannot be determined just by a few that exhibit such traits. Irish men and women are not happy all the time nor are they depressed all the time. They are a product of their social and geographical environment just like anyone else and are affected in much the same way as anyone by the experiences and situations they undergo throughout their lives.
Movies like to make things simple but taking the most obvious traits of a group of people and expounding on it. The trouble with this is that you can’t simply pigeon-hole a population without creating a very unfair stereotype.
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