Stereotypes are bad because they cause us to make assumptions about people from other countries before we've gotten to know them. I've often found myself doing this with the Japanese people I met here, only to discover they were a lot deeper than I'd originally thought, like the father of a student I used to teach who seemed like the most boring "salaryman" ever until I learned that he loved trains and had recently traveled from Vladivostok to Moscow on the Siberian Railroad. Then there was the silver-haired mother of my daughter's friend who seemed like a normal Japanese obasan (middle-aged woman), though she was really an established author of children's books. On the other hand, sometimes stereotypes can be eerily accurate. When I went to Germany I asked an older man to take my picture, and when he couldn't work my camera, he let out a frustrated "Ach!" just like a parody of a monocled villain from a 1960s spy movie. In Italy, the gentle, matronly mother of a friend of mine punctuated every third sentence with "Mama mia!" which seems too stereotypical to be possible. Japanese are famous for saying ah, so (short for ah, so desu ka? or "oh, is that so?"), and they really do say it a lot. I'm always embarrassed when I inadvertently say this in Japanese when my American family is nearby, snickering.
Exploring international stereotypes, with Hetalia fanart naturally.