I don't think it's only the stick figure drawings that make this book so relatable to a wide variety of readers. I've realized that Kinney does an interesting thing with stereotypes in that he seems to use them to unite his audience, rather than mock or alienate them. This is a concept we've also discussed in relation to Amy Sedaris and one that I think applies to Maira Kalman as well. The fact that stereotypes can be used to bring unity is also the most surprising thing that I've learned this semester. Consider the characters in Kinney's novel: the wimpy kid, the annoying little brother, the mean older brother, the nerd, the bully, the well-meaning mom, the goofy dad, the weird friend. These are all character types that we are familiar with can can relate to. We all have some aspects of each of these types within us, just as Greg is part wimpy kid, part bully, part annoying little brother, and part mean older brother at the same time. The stereotypes help us relate to the story and come to full realization of its message. The middle school student stereotypes present in the book are not intended to make fun of and belittle middle school students, but to teach us something about life and about ourselves. The message in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is ultimately about being a better person, and Kinney communicates this idea by using stereotypes rather than just perfect flawless characters. It's how he can show us what he wants us to learn, rather than tell us.
This is an idea we saw in Amy Sedaris's "I Like You." She also used stereotypes to create a point of entry and to unite people, to get them to say "I'm like that too!" When we read Sedaris we said that the character types she used--the businessman, the elderly, the wealthy relative--were really just a form of cultural shorthand. She used them to communicate to a larger audience. This is what Maira Kalman did with the "New Yorkistan" cartoon we looked at in class. Yes, she used stereotypes, but not in a way that was meant to harm anyone. She used them to make people laugh in a time of great pain and tragedy. Her stereotypes were a call to unite all groups of people during a healing process, the first step of which could be laughter. It surprises me that stereotypes can be used in this way rather than in the superiority model, but I think this use is present in many of the works we have read.