Orientalism in American Media

America as a nation tends to believe that we are the best and the heroes of the story. Can you remember the last time you watched a movie where it was a non-American person fighting an American villain? Because I can not. In American media such as movies and even history books the Americans are always depicted as the good guys, or that the world revolves around them. This concept is better known as Orientalism. Orientalism refers to how the West tends to depict Eastern civilizations as barbaric and primitive, and then the West as civilized and advanced.

Orientalism is very prevalent in American movies. The genre of old western movies is plagued by Orientalism especially. In these movies, white people are portrayed as the heroes, while the savage Native Americans terrorize them. In reality Native Americans are actually very civilized, friendly people with a lot of culture. What adds to the misrepresentation of the native Americans is that during this period of time the native Americans were actually very peaceful people, they simply were just trying to keep the land they had been living on for years upon years before the white people came.

Furthermore, Orientalism is very prevalent in history books. In my experience with history classes, world history is portrayed as revolving around America. The books we are taught completely ignore the history of nations outside of America. In reality America does not have a big place in world history, it is a nation that has only been around for a couple hundred years, while other nations have been around for thousands with a lot more history to them which is all pushed to the side for the sake of American history.

2 thoughts on “Orientalism in American Media

  1. Alex G.

    I really like your ideas, but what interests me is your last paragraph where you talk about world history classes. When I took world history freshman year this was not my experience at all — we learned about America because it’s part of world history. It is definitely a small part, however, so I wouldn’t say all the other history was “pushed to the side.” We definitely learned about the history of eastern empires and their impact on the world much more than America’s. What about your experience makes you think this? Can you compare our world history curriculum to the other schools you’ve learned world history at?


  2. charlotte g

    Growing up, I remember learning about history and I never thought it was skewed up until middle school, but I think it is sad that as a society we put ourselves so much in the spotlight we are unable to teach or learn about other groups of people.


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