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Myths and Stereotypes in American Film

The invention of cinematography in the early 1900’s has been the turning point of the century and this innovation of film has influenced countless American lives. Throughout the history of film, movies have let our ideas and thoughts about life run wild and crazy but at times, the thoughts become reality which makes myths and stereotypes come about. America developed several myths and stereotypes about films that have portrayed and enforced these myths upon the many people believe in America. Film has made cultural myths possible. For example, in early western films; Native Americans were either demonized as heathen savages or romanticized as noble savages, but they are rarely treated as rounded characters with their own culture. A cultural myth can be defined as the beliefs of unproven assumptions and ideas about different groups of people. Also, stereotypes are the overly exaggerated ideas and thoughts about certain groups. American films have done their part in making myths and stereotypes in movies by purposefully building roles that Americans can follow. Myths and stereotypes are thriving in America because the film industry promotes cultural myths, exaggerated perceptions of the “American Dream” and the industry stereotypes the gender roles in films. In order to explore these ideas I will be focusing on the following films: Alice in Wonderland, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz and Coming to America.

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