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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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54 Responses to 711

  1. Matthew says:

    There’s a fine line between first impression and judgment; it takes a lot of practice to stay on the proper side of the line with any consistency.

    Always something of which most of us could stand to be reminded.

  2. herbeey says:

    Hmmm. Thinking about this one is interesting. It’s not so much that the judgement is incorrect, but the idea that the basic judgement we make is not all there is.

    Gotta be careful not to reduce people to only what I am aware of, even if what I am aware of provides an accurate picture.

    Am I making sense? Am I just stating the obvious? Meh.

  3. Laura says:

    What selfish?? Because he’s standing next to a stick of dynomite you mean?? How’s that work exactly?? :mrgreen:

  4. Wulf says:

    This one’s interesting. It’s not only that people judge us on first impressions, but also that we often TRY to give a certain impression.
    We want people to think that we’re smart/attractive/humorous/etc.
    When they think that we’re dumb/ugly/silly/etc despite our efforts, then things become painful.
    My first impression of guy no. 2: must be an Art Director …

  5. JF says:

    The flip side of this is people dressing or looking a certain way… wearing the “uniform”… because they WANT you to think of them as belonging to a certain social group. Some people are almost begging you to ‘judge’ them a certain way (usually to say “I subscribe/belong to this or that group”) on first impressions. I see this in the bar after a football match, where there are often 22 players all wearing the same shoes, same haircut, same style of jeans/t-shirt, same neck chain, because it’s an environment where belonging is so important. But it’s the same with the Jag-driving, pin-stripe suit brigade too.

    So in a way it’s no wonder we get lazy about compartmentalising people when they are doing most of the work for us. It’s interesting sometimes to see people who have clearly gone out & bought all the bits and pieces of the identikit, off-the-shelf image they want to portray. After they’ve gone to all that effort, it would be almost rude of me not to lump them into whatever group they’re striving to be part of.

    I guess I am most often judgemental of people I (probably wrongly) perceive as being too weak to just be themselves!

    In any case, I think our brains have developed a strong sense of compartments; it must help us exist on some level. But we do have to try to rise above the ‘judgements’ made by our ‘animal’ instincts and ensure that our intellect is also engaged.

  6. miriworm says:

    Hmmm me thinks he (JB) might be a cartoonist but you never do know, do you? :-)

  7. Carole says:

    Hahaha! This one had me squirming when I saw it…the great unanswered question had just emerged freshly from my lips, “Why is it that the fashion round here today is for all the girls to look like sluts and all the blokes to look like ex-convicts?” Hmm…sorry, I’m tired and clearly irritated by the plethora of orange, barely dressed women with poker straight, bleached hair (or alternatively, pyjamas on the high street/sdchool gates at 3.30) and blokes with skinhead/shaved heads, tattoos and preferably a few scars to make them look ‘aaard’. Time for confession, maybe…and a generalisation reduction programme….

  8. Kim says:

    Groan. I fail at this one every single day. I can condemn huge swathes of people in a few thoughts.

    I’m really aware of it at the moment and am trying to unravel the tangled process of thoughts and buttons pushed that makes me feel backed into a corner then I blame/judge someone else as a defense mechanism.

    I’m really sorry that I do it, as I believe most of us are just bumbling along, doing the best we can.

    Thanks Jon.

  9. jonbirch says:

    great comments.
    jf… good points… “After they’ve gone to all that effort, it would be almost rude of me not to lump them into whatever group they’re striving to be part of.” haha! :-) “But we do have to try to rise above the ‘judgements’ made by our ‘animal’ instincts and ensure that our intellect is also engaged.” indeed.
    laura… briefcase in profile or stick of dynamite? selfish terrorist perhaps. :-)
    wulf… if number two’s an artist then he needs glasses! oh no, i’ve judged him! :-)

  10. jonbirch says:

    kim and carole… me too… all of us i’ll bet. :-( on the up side, they judge us too. :-)

  11. Kim says:

    hmm, is that an upside Jon??

    I guess its good to remember that, as the feeling of being wrongly judged is horrid and so a good thing to avoid doing to others – golden rule and all that…:lol:

  12. jonbirch says:

    haha, kim. not so much an ‘up side’ as a ‘bad gag’ on my part. :-)

  13. Stumpy says:

    Everyone wears a uniform that tells others a bit about who you are whether its a conscious decision or not. it usually doesnt tell the whole story though.

    I wish I could judge myself as fairly as I could judge others.

    great cartoon Birchy.

  14. Robb says:

    I’m normally the judged.

    it was only yesterday that someone said “but surely they make you take your earrings out”.

    Nothing amused me more than the lecturer who… to be fair… read out her PowerPoint presentation… and ignored the slide and moved on when it said:

    Some people like to blur the gender boundaries.

    An example of this would be men who have long hair and earrings.


    Lets put it this way, I’m not a particularly effeminate bloke. The huge irony was that she was trying to combat gender stereotyping and in the process… totally… utterly stereotypes me and all of my friends. Just because I’m not “the norm” in a theological college doesn’t mean I’m not “normal”. In fact, the reason more “normal” people don’t come through the door is because of this stereotyping!

  15. beatthedrum says:

    Oh my word the first picture is me, bald fat and in a suit!! Can I do you for slander?

    Its true though we do judge people by their apperance not their personalities at least on first meeting.

    I have spent a lot of time around skin heads, punks and bikers and most of them are the warm, caring, people who will go the extra mile for people.

    So lets take time and get to know people.

    Oh and I am dumb/ugly/silly/fat/bald/annoying/pompus/arogant/annoying/thick/rude/obnoxious… or is that all just a front as well?

    On dress styles I guess I am now fairly conservative to what i used to be punk/skinhead but I do think that the fashion world treats women like objects and unfortunately that means many more men do as well.


  16. Pat says:

    I echo Dennis’ comment at 6 – but raised to the power of 10!

    I think this is a very provocative (in its best sense) hard-hitting cartoon Jon, and I guess a natural extension of thoughts arising from 710 – about which, I will confess, I felt too uncomfortable to comment directly because of the welter of conflicting feelings the picture and debate raised in me :-?

    I think we need to recognise though that making some sort of initial judgement and categorisation of things (not just people) is the way our brain works – we decode and organise as a way of making sense of the world and knowing how to respond to that which we encounter. The things which govern and shape those processes are complex and some of them are ‘cognitively impenetrable’ – that is we can neither access nor alter them at a conscious level.

    However, that’s not to say that we are prisoners of such processes and, as JF notes @ 5, we can and should engage our conscious processes to examine why we’ve responded in a certain way and whether it’s justified or reasonable. And sometimes it needs a very conscious effort of will not to stereotype people on the basis of external appearances of various kinds.

    I think fear of ‘otherness’ is a very potent factor in all of this…

  17. beatthedrum says:

    Is it fear of otherness Pat or more simply fear of man?

  18. dennis says:

    Looking at this again and laughing at Caroles comment (we saw pjama wearing girls at the weekend)

    I WONDER what they call me??

  19. Pat says:

    I think it’s fear of others who are (or whom we perceive to be )difeerent from ourselves BTD.

  20. Elizabeth says:

    “the fashion world treats women like objects and unfortunately that means many more men do as well.”
    I agree, but we all choose what we wear (except for those still dressed by their mothers) so why choose to treated like objects?
    Why does that appeal?

  21. Robb says:

    Elizabeth – I saw a few people who looked like they were dressed by their mothers this Sunday ;)

  22. subo says:

    I’ve recently started to realise just how different people’s thinking can be. I’d know idea how intolerant I was, until I twigged there’s millions of ways of doing thinking. I’d got the different view points and culture stuff, it’s just been a shock to realise the way we string a few thoughts together varies hugely

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Robb – I have met quite a few who are also dressed by their wives!

  24. rebecca says:

    Robb (#15) — I can’t believe that PowerPoint presentation (or rather, I can’t believe the person who wrote it). I dread to think what my brother would make of it (although I’m certainly not going to ask him), since he has long hair. So do I. He has been told a few times that if he wants to get on in his career he might have to have his hair cut off. Nobody has ever said that to me, and I can’t imagine anyone would even think of saying it to me. Is this sexual discrimination? Women have a free choice as to whether to have long or short hair, and also whether to wear earrings or not, while men are expected to do the respectable thing, which means short hair and no earrings… It’s unusual to find an example of sexual discrimination which works against men.

    I’m trying to get used to the idea of Beat the Drum being bald, because up to this point I’d imagined him as having long hair as well. Clearly a prejudice — I was thinking of a stereotypical rock musician.

    And another thing: most of my clothes are black. At the moment I’m dressed entirely in black, with the exception of a badge with the Fairtrade symbol (this is green and blue, of course). Is there a risk I might be mistaken for an Emo? I didn’t even know what that was — I had to look it up.

  25. Pat says:

    rebecca – so long as you haven’t got ‘emo hair’ you should be ok :lol:

  26. Stereotypes exist for a reason.

  27. Eric the pious says:

    I thank you oh god, that I am not like others, for I am not judgemental,

    and I thank you oh father, that you have given me the gift of discernment, for I can clearly see that this tax collector next to me is a selfish, greedy, evil person.

  28. Carole says:

    At least all the above characters provoke a reaction…some of us leave the world indifferent…how awful to blend into the wallpaper (suppose it depends on the wallpaper)!

  29. Carole says:

    I can feel us veering into a Life of Brian, “yes! We are all individuals” track…thought I’d say it before anyone else! You may now have your annual outpouring of favourite ‘brian’ lines…

  30. Robb says:

    Rebecca – there is an amazing amount of sexism in the workplace aimed at men. Men must adhere to a strict dress code. No earrings, shirt and tie, short hair etc.

    I had to do all of that as a teacher. The woman who taught in the hut next to me would wear a pair of leggings and a t-shirt with a nose stud no problem.

    My HOD (head of department) came to me once and said “I’m really sorry but the head doesn’t have the bottle to come and tell you this herself so it was passed to a deputy who bottled it and passed it on to me and the buck stops here. She would like to be sexist and wants me to ask you to tie your hair back. I am your union representative, what would you like me to do about it?”

    Go into just about any establishment and you will see the same attitudes throughout.

    What we have done over the last few centuries is women’s liberation without men’s liberation!

    And it isn’t unusual to find an example of sexual discrimination that works against men – they just aren’t mentioned. For example, try applying for a job as a nanny or nursery assistant as a man – “you paedophile!!”

    Like battered husbands, they are just things that aren’t talked about so perceived not to exist.

    I was told by my mother (*pfffft*) that I would have to lose my Yorkshire accent if I wanted to get anywhere in life.

    An al tell thee where to shuv it!

    Themethatisme – “Stereotypes exist for a reason.”

    Enlighten me.

    The most common stereotype I hear in West Yorkshire begins “all asians…”

    Not sure I will agree with you.

    Carole – Spare some change for an old ex lepper?

    If you are all wondering why I have been blogging so much lately and on here at ASBO, I have a deadline tomorrow and this has been my way of not starting it yet…. still….. even now!!

  31. émie says:

    ha ha ha, lols, this is not the point you’re making, but the second one is SO my friend who IS mental. =D

  32. beatthedrum says:

    Often Sterio types are there because people do infact fit into stereo types… watch Jeremy Kyle (I tend to cry when i do coz im a soft hearted idiot).

    Some people even aim to fit into the ‘stereo type’ this is so sad.

    BTW the last thing i want to be is a Sterotypical Christian!

    I like JAck Daniels, love punk rock and like to play my drums as loud as i can. But I love the Lord try and not be judgemental, and try and show compassion to those around me.

    I recently watched an ABC discussion between MArk Driscol, some liberal christian bishop, an athiest and the leader of Hookers for Jesus.

    What struck me was she looked like a hooker, but talked love and Jesus.

    Have a look there there is a link on my blog http://beatthedrum.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/mark-driscoll-abc-debate-on-is-there-a-devil/

    i think both Mark and the lady from hookers for Jesus show love and respect to the others, get little back from them.

  33. Valentine says:

    First time poster here!

    I’d like to respond to Carole in her post of #8. I’m an American bloke who is pretty alternative/goth/steampunk. Personally, I shave my head because my genetics have gifted me w/ a hairline that begins where Patrick Stewart’s does, and I admit to being a vain creature sometimes. I can’t help being a bigger guy, who prefers to dress in black. So, I guess I’m intimidating. I don’t do it on purpose, I just look like I wrestle bears for a hobby.

    However, in good news, Christ loves me regardless of what I look like.

  34. Carole says:

    Valentine, welcome to ASBO as a poster lovely to make your virtual acquaintance. :) You know, I think a shaved head can be a very good look and suits a certain kind of face. I have two gorgeous nephews, both built, as we say in these parts ‘like a brick sh*thouse’. A few years back, someone in the family decided to invest in a set of hair trimmers. My two nephews practically shaved their heads, their dad did, their brother-in-law did and even my two great-nephews did. They look well hard! They are indistinguishable from each other and from virtually everyone else in these here parts. Yeah, you’re right, God loves ‘em all (though most of them don’t realise it yet and have me down as stereotype picture no. 2 for entertaining the idea!)…and so do I, dearly…I’m just not especially fond of the uniform! :)

  35. beatthedrum says:

    Is me but isnt the chap in the second picture wearing one luminous yellow and one luminous green sock. Doe sthat mean there are made from terry towling and the picture is from the early – mid eighties?

  36. AnneDroid says:

    I’ve always thought of myself as very tolerant and non-judgemental, seeing the good in everyone. However I have been shocked (really!!) recently by the realisation of how irrationally, insanely, angry I get with people who I find very boring (angry inside, that is – I don’t shout at them or anything :) ). I don’t know why this should be so irksome to me when I can tolerate other foibles well enough.

  37. Pat says:

    AnneDroid – I guess we all have our own particular breaking points in these matters :-D

    Robb @ 31: I’m glad I’m not the only one who lets the deadlines get perilously close! My excuse is that I need the adrenaline to bring out my best work – but even I’m beginning to see that this might not be such a good plan when writing a 100,000 word thesis :lol:

    On a more serious note, this cartoon has also had me thinking about the way we stereotype our fellow Christians – and how quick we are to apply labels that blind us to how people actually are in their journey of faith. And it’s had me recalling (with much inner squirming) a number of notable instances of this in my own, very recent past.

    Fortunately, in at least one of those cases, I’ve been able to get past that original pigeon-holeing, with its associated assumption that we must therefore be poles apart theologically speaking, to find that we shared some very unlikely common-ground. This in turn has gone on to be the basis for some very fruitful conversations – ones that i wouldn’t have missed for anything……but mearly did because of my own prejudices :-(

  38. AnneDroid says:

    Pat, and Robb. I’m last-minute.com too. I am going camping tomorrow straight from work. Am I packed? No of course not.

    Pat, I really like what you say. This is my experience a lot too – finding unlikely common ground where I had thought “we must be poles apart”. For instance I work in an ecumenical chaplaincy team of two – my colleague a Roman Catholic and me a Proddy!

  39. Pat says:

    AnneDroid – thanks. I find it salutary to reflect on the enrichment which i have so nearly missed on a number of occaisions because of this sort of relex thinking. It ought to mean that I’m less likely to fall into that trap again….but alas I’m a slow learner :-(

    Hope you have a great camping trip :-D

  40. beckyG says:

    31. I haven’t been around much as I am aiming to turn in my book edits by May 12th, prep for a presentation for the diocese of New Hampshire (yep, Gene Robinson’s diocese) and attending the Tribeca Film Festival. I have used ASBO Jesus as an excuse not to get deadlines in but here I’m just not around much.

    And I got a cough (but not the swine flu.) That’s a good stereotype – i caught (with mouth covered) in the subway and everyone thinks I’m contagious (I’m not).

    BTW Rob – there are some clothing stereotypes for women. I like to wear short skirts bot because I’m a slut but I’m short and my legs are one of my best features. If I wear a skirt or dress that’s not above the knee (I own one long black dress if I need to go formal). When i was a social work intern and hospital chaplain intern, I was called on the carpet more than one for having too short skirts. Also, ask some female clergy what they think about what they get to wear – most of them end up looking like asexual nuns.

  41. beckyG says:

    I meant to say “I cough” not “I caught.”

    And it’s “not because I’m a slut” not “bot because I’m a slut.”

  42. dennis says:

    BTD @36 Hilarious!!! Terry Towling, I forgot that existed.

  43. subo says:

    “it isn’t unusual to find an example of sexual discrimination that works against men” – sadly Harriet Harman hasn’t appreciated this in her new ‘equality bill’, which I fear will cause a huge ammount of dispare to ordinary chaps trying to do their job

  44. Stereotypes exist in the first instance because there is sufficient information held in common between a group of people that allows the human capacity for generalisation, the neccesity to collectivise and label. It is so much easier than getting to know an individual! In the second instance they exist because the predominant culture needs sub-cultures in order to affirm its own existence through denial. We are able to state definitively that we ‘are this’ because we ‘are not that’. How much of our common christian heritage has developed from such thinking? Read the Nicene Creed, the full document, not just the bit that is in the common liturgies.
    If the whole world were christian, what would the evangelists have to do?

  45. cindy says:

    if you’ll add a mirror to the end i can say all of the above

  46. jonbirch says:

    themethatisme… i guess evangelists would make art, do science, write, serve, cook, clean, hug etc… etc…
    the whole question comes down to ‘what is humanity for?.. what’s it’s point?’ my answer would be to glorify the maker by making and doing, enjoying and sharing, unfolding and exploring the wonders of the world, indeed the universe. doing what humanity clearly does best. :-)

    btw… i defy anyone to out do me on the art of being ‘last minute’. :-)

    hi cindy… i think you’re new… welcome. :-)

  47. cindy says:

    thanks. i’m not really new, just less lurky :-)

  48. Pat says:

    themethatisme I agree that we often define ourselves over and against the other – and that this is not an especially fruitful way of going about it. But at the same time, hasn’t some sort of dialectical process been necessary as the Christian community has tried to work out how to make sense of the ongoing story of God’s self-revelation.

    I’m not saying that this process has been well-done or without problems or even appalling consequences at times, but I’m not sure how else it might have happened, given the way we do operate.

    (BTW, is it ‘The ME that is me’ or ‘THEME that is me’ or something else that I’ve missed entirely? Not that I want to pigeon-hole you, I’m just curious :-D )

  49. tallandrew says:

    how about:

    in the image of God : in the image of God : in the image of God : in the image of God

  50. Pat, I do agree that there has been an ongoing dialectic in this respect, I am probably just a tad dissapointed that it reflects so much of the negative we are this because we are not that. It is the given’ness’ of this way of operating that I am perhaps seeking to question.

    With regard to my pen-name, I began with the intention of the former suggestion as I regard my blogging presence as a process of self discovery and only several weeks later realised the second combination, but the two both work nicely for me.

  51. Pat says:

    Yes – it’s an interesting question isn’t it, as to whether this is a ‘givenness’ we can escape from. Can concepts make sense without a ‘negative’ image off some sort to play against? I’m not sure that some of them can.

    I too had always read your pen-name in the first way until I was typing it in to my comment @ 49 and realised there was a second possibility :-)

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