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  Ethnic stereotypes in the media
Updated 24 May 2002, 11.59
Still from bend it like Beckham

PSHE 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Prejudice and stereotypes

Bend it Like Beckham followed a young woman's interest in football. It challenged stereotypes of Asians in Britain.

Students storyboard the plot of an autobiographical film.

Learning aims

  • Meaning of stereotype

  • How the media reinforces stereotypes

Explain that a stereotype is a conventional image of a person or group. Stereotypes generally conform to a pattern of dress and behaviour.

Commissioning programmes

Fact File
Prejudice - an opinion formed beforehand
Stereotype - a conventional perception of something

The class imagine they are the bosses at ITV. They can decide which programs get made and which do not, they pick from the list below. They must pick the shows they think most people will watch.

Pick the top three shows

As teacher you play the role of the programme maker. You must pitch these programmes to the class who vote for which three ITV will buy.

Read out the programme ideas one at a time. Take a vote after each programme. Record the votes on the board.

What would most people watch?

[A] A streetwise young black man struggles to bring up two kids on his own (drama).

[B] An Asian grocer and Greek kebab shop owner are always arguing (comedy).

[C] An Italian family run a greasy cafe full of wacky punters. They are passionate about football (comedy).

[D] A teenage boy from an Indian family can't be bothered to do any work. He hangs out on the dole and dreams of becoming a racing driver (comedy).

[E] Two wheeler-dealer market traders from south London are always trying to sell dodgy goods (comedy).

[F] An elderly white woman forms a community group with her elderly black neighbours. They go on day trips but have such a wild time they often get into trouble (comedy).

[G] A Chinese detective investigates a series of murders amongst members of a violent Tri-ad drugs gang (thriller).

Did they challenge stereotypes?

How many of the programmes they agreed to make would challenge stereotypes? There are no right or wrong answers. All the shows involve some stereotypes. After the activity, read the story

What reasons might have been given for not making the film Bend it Like Beckham?

Are students surprised that the film's director is an Asian women?

Main activity

A film that challenges stereotypes
Students storyboard (write as a cartoon strip) the plot for a film. The film will be their autobiography. Start the film when they are ten years old.

In the film, every time the main character (student) makes a life choice it should challenge stereotypes. They rewrite their life to date, and then carry on into an imagined future. Below are some pointers.

  • Choice of mates
  • Hobbies and interests
  • What you wear
  • Subjects you study
  • How hard you work
  • Any further education
  • Career choice
  • Marriage ?
  • Kids?
  • Rich or poor
  • Where they live
  • How they die

When the storyboard is complete students answer these questions:

[1] Would this film be likely to get made? Explain your answer.

[2] What would a 'stereotypical' version of the life have involved? ( Where the film's main character made normal decisions)

Extension activity
Individual students write guidance for people in the media. It should explain the stereotypes broadcasters should avoid when portraying the following:

  • The student's own ethnic group

  • The student's own gender

  • The student's own age group

    Start with the sentence: 'Do not assume that because I am...'.

    Filmmaking is a business. People tend to play safe and back types of characters that have worked in the past. In this way racist and sexist attitudes are reinforced.

    How can the media be put to work to overcome stereotyping? Prompt: Show positive images of minority groups.

    Teachers' Background

    • Most television programs are quite short. This means the identities of characters must be established quickly. To do this, television writers often use stereotypes.

    • A stereotype is a conventional image of a person or group. Stereotypes generally conform to a pattern of dress and behaviour.

    • The British film Billy Elliot tells the story of a miner's son from north-east England who breaks the mould by landing a place at ballet school.
    Common TV stereotypes include a characters:
    • Age (old people, young people, teenagers)
    • Sex (women and men, boys and girls)
    • Job (teacher, model, truck driver, doctor, lawyer)
    • Culture (Scottish, Irish, Italian)
    • Race (black, white, Chinese, Hispanic)
    • Looks (beautiful, ugly, 'nerdy')
    • Position in a family (mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother, grandfather)

    For all links and resources click at top right.

  • More InfoBORDER=0
    Religious festivals guide
    Find OutOur guide to racism
    ChatRacism in towns
    QuizQuiz: How 'street' are you?
    ClubHow a school play stopped racism


    BBC Links
    BBC News Online : Race UK
    BBCi multifaith calendar


    Web Links
    Bend It Like Beckham
    The Commission for Racial Equality
    Note: You will leave CBBC. We are not responsible for other websites.



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