Does Media Influence High School Stereotypes?



Maria Klassen, Editor in Chief

Everyone knows that high school stereotypes are dehumanizing and detrimental, but popular media may be perpetuating these stereotypes more than the average teenager.

Think about it. From Riverdale and Mean Girls to Gossip Girl and Grease, movies and shows about high school relationships seem to always feature a common thread of the “cool” popular kids vs. underdogs. Even if the plot includes some kind of reconciliation or compromise between the two, the fact remains that popular culture presents these stereotypes as existing all the time, everywhere.

The media are right—these stereotypes certainly do exist. But I strongly believe that they would not be as prevalent if shows and movies would quit telling us that they are an unavoidable part of the high school experience.

Especially as girls, we often grow up watching iconic or trendy chick flicks and dramas. And while I absolutely love a good chick flick, I think everyone can agree that they often give us unrealistic expectations about what high school will be like.

Unfortunately, one of the most damaging things they tell kids is that high school is about survival of the fittest—if you fit in, you’ll end up on top. If not, you’ll end up being treated like dirt and shoved into lockers, with people only pretending to like you on a dare or if they’re getting paid.

Obviously, no one watches these scenes and wants to be the “loser.” So we grow up and end up adhering to these stereotypes, always hoping to end up on top.

If we as a society want to build up communities within our high schools that are kind and respectful to everyone, popular media needs to stop portraying high school stereotypes as the norm.

If teen movies and shows would instead portray more caring environments, perhaps life would imitate those positive expectations that popular media could create.