Racial stereotypes in the media  

We all know that old saying ‘don’t believe everything you see on TV’…

However when images are being presented time and time again it are hard not fall form certain ideas and beliefs about different races that are presented. It’s easy to see how the media can manipulate attitudes and perceptions.

 “People organise their knowledge about the world around them by sorting and simplifying received information” (Wolska, M 2011).

It’s interesting to associate the concepts above with children, as it is at an early age when we first start to form judgments of reality and status of television programs (Chandler, D). These assessments are also based upon their growing knowledge of their everyday world.  If not directly exposed to different races and cultures at an early age, what children see on television would play a role in the development of ideas and even prejudices about different cultures. Take for example the Disney movie Aladdin (1992).  Although it was one of the most successful Disney films ever produced it displays an obvious portrayal of careless racism towards Arabs. The opening song ‘Arabian Nights’ was seen to be a “depiction of Arab culture with a decidedly racist tone”  (Spunkish, 2008). The lyrics where as follows:

“Oh I come from a Land

from a faraway place

where the caravan camels roam.

Where they cut of your ears if they don’t like your face.

 It’s barbaric, but hey, its home”

Complaints where made about the opening of this song as was consequently changed the following year (Dean, B 2011).  The aforementioned lyrics gave the impression that the Middle East is a ‘desolated wasteland where justice seems to run on a simple limb removal policy (Spunkish, 2008). It is these kinds of stereotypes, which are shaping the way young people see people of different cultures.

An experiment was done with children as part of the campaign “Racism in Mexico”.


It’s fascinating to question if the racial stereotypes that are apparent in this video correlate with what children see in kids cartoons and movies such as Aladdin.



Chandler, D 1997,  ‘Children’s Understanding of What is ‘Real’ on Television: A Review of the Literature’, Viewed 9/5/14, http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/short/realrev.html


Fullwood, S 2013, ‘Race and Beyond: The medias stereotypical portrayal of race’, Center for American Progress, viewed 9/5/14, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2013/03/05/55599/the-medias-stereotypical-portrayals-of-race/


Spunkish, 2008, ‘Racism in Disney’s Aladdin’, Study Mode, Viewed 9/5/14, http://www.studymode.com/essays/Racism-In-Disney’s-Aladdin-158805.html


Wolska, M 2011, ‘Gender Stereotypes in the Media case study: Analysis of the gender stereotyping phenomenon in TV commercials’, Krytyka, viewed 9/5/14 http://krytyka.org/gender-stereotypes-in-mass-media-case-study-analysis-of-the-gender-stereotyping-phenomenon-in-tv-commercials/



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