La tensión entre los que deben defender ciertas normas, opiniones y valores, y los que luchan por otras nuevas, es el resultado sobre el que descansa la evolución de la sociedad.

Serge Moscovici

One lesson learned (Astartert, 2011) (doc)

The mechanics of the program is simple, like a sort of “Who’s Who”. There is one contestant who has three wild cards (one of which consists of the professional opinion of three experts), several clues which are given to him throughout the duration of the program, and a couple of friends or family who help him.On one hand, we have twelve anonymous people (or little-known, as one or two of them has appeared on TV at some point) who volunteer to go and who are called the strangers, and on the other hand we have a panel of twelve pieces of data, one for each of them, for example, referring to their profession or some strange thing which they have done in their life (for example, one lady was the first contestant in a TV programme in Spanish). The contestant must link every piece of data (or identity, in the programme’s jargon) with one of the strangers, thereby guiding themselves to their pose, their attitude, physique, clothes or haircut. Each correctly guessed identity accumulates money. Once they fail to do, so they lose everything (there is the option to walk away).

The case is that in the last round from yesterday, the panel gave details such as “ordinance”, “masked theatre actor” or “bullfighting firefighter”, and coincidentally there was a short man among the strangers.

Both the contestant and the majority of the people in the programme (and I have to admit, it was the first thing I thought) linked the entrance of this man to the profession of “bullfighting firefighter”, but the option disappeared very quickly after the opening of the show, as the presenter gave the clue that the firefighter who was with them that night had been on the children’s TV programme (let’s see if I say this right) “The Chiripitifláuticos” on TVE, and so it was obvious that it was another contestant (of normal height, of course) whose face had been recognised by everybody since the start of the round (I think I saw him on the TVE 50-year gala. He couldn’t have been on Chiripitifláuticos, it’s a bit too far back for me but with my memory, it could have been there or somewhere else, but I definitely recognised his face).

It struck me that, after eliminating the first hypothesis, everybody kept trying to relate the short man with the most “artistic” clues from the panel, such as “masked theatre actor” or “I get naked to play” (this was a female football team that made a calendar to pay for the costs of this sport through its sale), although one must say that the “I get naked to play” was more or less justified, because this stranger’s clue was “I love hen parties” (in the end it was not clear what the link was between this clue and his identity), but anyway, in my view he could have been related all the same to the theatre thing just as much as “owner of the oldest café in Spain” or any other clue, given that neither his pose nor his clothes showed anything indicative…Finally, the contestant failed and walked away from the game. The four identities that were left were revealed, among them the short man who, although everybody linked him with the theatre clue or the naked one, nobody dared to find out why there was always some clue that just didn’t fit.Surprise. Neither firefighter nor bullfighter, nor naked, nor a clubber. This man was “ordinance”, as simple as that, and in my opinion this is the lesson that, consciously or not, they (or we) gave to more than one.We have all heard of (more so in modern times, and in my view that is good) the activities carried out by certain associations for spreading awareness in society about certain clichés and…stereotypes, let’s say, which make up certain groups. Such is the case of short people; we associate them with medieval ideas, such as firefighters. It may be that, when hearing the complaints of these associations, there will be somebody who thinks that they’re exaggerating, but if you stop to think for a minute, are they?

I think that actions speak louder than words, and this is a clear example: Why, upon seeing a short person on one programme, along with the phrase “bullfighting firefighter”, does everybody arrive at the same conclusion?Why don’t we also link him to “Sorbonne Graduate” or “World darts champion” (all the examples are clues that were given on the programme)?I think that this is quite clear proof of how these clichés really affect not just the collective of people with whom they are linked, but all of society. And I think that just for this, there is already sufficient motivation (although there are many other reasons) for all actions which will contribute to eliminating these false stereotypes to be introduced as soon as possible.

To conclude, I just want to say, lesson learned (and I’m including in this: Let’s not forget that I also first linked this man with the “bullfighting firefighter” clue), now I just regret having had to learn it…Because, honestly, I thought that I already knew this lesson.Astartet.PS: I’ve met some people related to achondroplasia (the most common form of bone dwarfism) over the Internet, and although I have said this before, I repeat to you now that you have all my support, sincerely. Acknowledgements to the Todo a un Leru blog, whose author is the author of this text.

Link to the original: Una leccion aprendida