Anti-Intellectualism Depicted

Table Of Contents

Conservative Trope Examples

  • An autonomously driven truck recklessly hits a horse trailer knocking it off the road and runs Logan's pickup truck into the grass in the median almost killing them as the dodge oncoming traffic.
  • Rizzoli says she didn't go to college because she couldn't stand the idea of listening to a professor "drone on and on" and instead wanted to do work right away. Even though she was top student with academic accolades.
  • Kingsman The Secret Service (2014) | Science & Technology Depicted Negatively
    Billionaire tech tycoon Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) plants a hidden signal inside cellphone SIM cards he distributes that, when activated by a satellite he owns, turns everyday people into ruthless brutes who savagely murder each other.
  • An executive at a pharmaceutical company attempts to start a deadly pandemic so she can make money off the vaccine they developed.
    Staff Aside
    This episode is the epitome of so many right-wing conspiracy theories about covid-19 being deliberately unleashed and also so people can profit off of it.
  • MI6 gets hacked multiple times by a former agent who creates an explosion and also has a computer program orchestrate his escape.
  • The movie is an ode to old ways over modern technology which the villain uses against them. When Bond is shaving, Moneypenny notices he uses a cut-throat razor which is very traditional and says, "sometimes the old ways are the best" and helps him shave. The exact line is repeated later by Kincade, caretake of Bond's childhood Scottish home, as he lays a knife on a table for Bond to use. He also has to use his father's old shotgun engraved with his initials to fend off an attack as they sold off all the newer weapons.
  • Professor Hadley (David Koechner) is a kooky college professor consumed with proving that Bigfoot is real.
  • A federal government computer system becomes artificially intelligent and uses computer technology, the Internet and surveillance data to manipulate them to do her bidding.
  • Fool's Gold (2008)
    Tess tells Finn of her plan to go back to college, get a PhD and teach. Finn says, "when are you going to stop selling this crap about going back to school" and further denigrates academia. Finn tells her their boat sunk which she was relying on to pay for her tuition after they divorced, and so she hits him with a golf club. Finn also gets punched later on by his rival treasure hunting former associate Moe.
    Staff Aside
    The movie is great fun. But nobody wants to watch academics do their thing on screen even though it is valuable, necessary and rewarding work. So of course, there will always be an inherent conservative bias against it as it's an easy foil for screenwriters. And when assault is played for laughs, even with a woman against a man, it perpetuates a conservative mindset. It's never ok for a man to just hit a woman on screen. Men hit men all the time and women hit women all the time on screen. But conservative men like to play the victim card against women and so when women are depicted as assaulting men, they use that as ammo.
    Other Tropes: Women Losing Control
  • Scientists create a cure for cancer by genetically engineering a measles virus, but it mutates causing the ensuing zombie apocalypse the movie is based on.
  • Live Free or Die Hard (2007) | Intelligent People Overly Flawed
    "The Warlock" (Kevin Smith) is depicted as a stereotypical overly paranoid, eccentric, condescending and maladjusted hacker still living in his mother's basement (which he calls his command center) with Stars Wars paraphernalia everywhere. He's distrustful of police officers presumably because he does hacking type things that may be considered illegal.
    Staff Aside
    This is a common anti-intellectual trope where intelligent people are depicted with flaws such as being eccentric and also condescending to average non tech people like John McClane.
  • Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
    Cyber security consultant to the Department of Defense, Thomas Gabriel, hacks into NORAD and shuts down the entire defense network with just a laptop to show that it's vulnerable after his bosses refuses to listen to his concerns.
    Staff Aside
    This is making the department of defense and the federal government look incompetent if one person with a laptop can shut down their defenses. Also, they would have systems in place so that genuine concerns like Thomas Gabriel's wouldn't be ignored.
  • Live Free or Die Hard (2007) | Old Ways are Better than New
    When John McClane and Matt Farrell's car is stuck in a traffic jam caused by a cyber-attack, Matt asks, "what are we doing?" and John responds, "It's a little thing they invented back in the sixties called 'jogging'. You're gonna love it. Come on."
    Staff Aside
    It's a funny joke aimed at Matt's youth with the 60s reference and implying that young people are lazy and so wouldn't know about jogging today.
  • Humans have been living a peaceful coexistence with robots who help make their lives easier to manage, but Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) doesn't trust them one bit. The robots follow the "Three Laws of Robotics" which regulate how they are to interact with humans, but nefarious actors have other ideas and unleash an army of robots who move to take over the world and subjugate humans purportedly for their own good because they were careening towards extension.
  • Old School (2003) | College Depicted Negatively
    College dean Gordon Pritchard (Jeremy Piven) is depicted as corrupt, uncaring and overbearing and is the main antagonist of the fraternity three adults created to circumvent college zoning laws.
  • Humans create artificial intelligence in the future, and it backfires causing the remaining human race to hide underground from killer AI robots.
  • Office Space (1999)
    The movie depicts working in an office in positions requiring college degrees in a very negative light with many negative stereotypes exaggerated. The protagonist, Peter, hates his job and quits despite a undeserved promotion and is shown in the final scenes much happier working outside as a construction worker instead.
  • The football players high school teacher is also a stripper who does a dance to the song "hot for teacher."
    Staff Aside
    There is a conflict in the movie from his coach and Dad around Mox prioritizing education over football and getting an academic scholarship to Brown. So, they at least depict that favorably, but they still had to make a teacher moonlight as a stripper.
  • Rounders (1998) | College Depicted Negatively
    Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) quits law school with the blessing of his professor in order to be a professional poker player.
  • The Big Lebowski (1998) | College Depicted Negatively
    The Dude tells Brandt (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) that he attended college, but "spent most of my time occupying various administration building, uh, smoking a lot of thai sticks, breaking into the ROTC, bowling. To tell you the truth Brandt, I don't remember most of it."
  • PCU (1994)
    College president Garcia-Thompson is depicted as an over-the-top liberal foil who takes political correctness to extreme levels.
  • A college student seeking help from Droz is majoring in Sanskrit. His reply, "Sanskrit? You are majoring in a 5000 year old dead language?"
  • One student Pigman just sat and watched TV for hours every day trying to prove his senior thesis the "Caine-Hackman" theory that no matter what time of day it is, you can find a Michael Caine or Gene Hackman movie playing on TV. Droz explains, "That's the beauty of college these days." and "You can major in Game Boy if you know how to bullshit." He finally figures out how to finish his thesis when he sees Caine and Hackman in the same movie together, "A Bridge Too Far."
    Staff Aside
    This fuels negative conservative stereotypes about college that many classes are not useful and that young people are lazy and make bad decisions.
  • Dazed and Confused (1993)
    David (Matthew McConaughey) tells Don he's thinking about going back to school since "that's where all the girls are," but isn't sure because he doesn't know if he wants to "spend my time listenin' to some dipsh*t who doesn't know what the hell he's talking about anyway."
  • Young NYC doctor Ben Stone (Michael J. Fox) thinks a child needs an emergency operation and ridicules the small town Dr. Hogue for suggesting he take a Coke instead. Before they airlift the kid to a hospital and cut him open with a very invasive operation, Dr Hogue comes to the rescue and discerns that the kid just drank too much homemade antacid and gives him a coke and charges 60 cents to emphasize his point.
    Staff Aside
    Screenwriters created a scenario where an old school rural doctor outsmarts a younger, highly skilled city doctor depicted as condescending by simply prescribing a can of coke.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) | Public High School Teachers Depicted Negatively
    Monotone voiced teacher Ben Stein calls out Bueller three times while the students look completely and utterly bored. Later, he bores the students more with a quirky lecture style, "In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the... Anyone? Anyone?... the Great Depression, passed the... Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?... raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work."
    Staff Aside
    It's an iconic funny scene. Which also perpetuates an anti-teacher, anti-intellectual mindset through comedy. We all know it's a joke but some students may use this as an excuse to mock teachers rather than learn. Conservatives benefit from a less educated voter base. The smarter they are the less likely they'll vote for today's Republican party.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) | Public High School Depicted Negatively
    The premise of the movie is that high school sucks and friends play hooky following Ferris Bueller's lead. The principal, his secretary and an economics teacher (Ben Stein) are also lampooned.
  • Back to the Future (1985) | Public High School Depicted Negatively
    High school principal Mr. Strickland is depicted as overly strict and lacking compassion calling Marty McFly a slacker for having multiple tardies and saying he will never amount to anything.
    Staff Aside
    Real life high school principals would be much more diplomatic and caring in their approach.
  • Back to the Future (1985) | Intelligent People Overly Flawed
    "Doc" Brown is depicted as an eccentric, absent minded, loner professor with crazy ideas such as a mind reading device that does not work. He does however invent a time machine.
  • The Breakfast Club (1985) | Public High School Depicted Negatively
    Vice-Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) is an angry, overly-strict educator who forbids a group of misfits serving a Saturday detention from talking or even moving from their seats. He's portrayed as having a deep disdain against the teens for making him show up to school on a Saturday and makes them write a long essay exploring their beliefs about themselves, but doesn't offer any of them guidance and instead leaves them to their own devices only to check on them occasionally to ridicule them about one thing or another.
    Staff Aside
    The vast majority of principals, vice-principals and educators in general strive to be good role models for their students and help them learn from mistakes that resulted in detention so they will hopefully not find themselves in that position again. When movies portray them in a negative light it reinforces the conservative belief that educators are in their profession for reasons other than teaching our youth.
  • The Terminator (1984) | Artificial Intelligence is Dangerous
    Skynet is an AI system that tried to exterminate humans by unleashing a global nuclear attack.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) | College Depicted Negatively
    Dr. Raymond Stantz says, "I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities. We didn't have to produce anything." followed by "I've worked in the private sector. They expect results."
    Historical Context
    Ghostbusters debuted in theaters four months before the 1984 Presidential election and was the 2nd highest grossing movie that year. Reagan obviously benefits by a joke about professors worried about the private sector expecting results when actually colleges and universities are on the leading edge of the newest advances in thought, science, technology and medicine and educating most of the best workers in the private sector.
  • Malvin (Eddie Deezen) is portrayed as an overly annoying computer hacker who lacks proper social skills.
  • A machine with control of the United States nuclear arsenal gains artificial intelligence and threatens nuclear war after high school kid David (Matthew Broderick) hacks their network with a computer modem.
  • Animal House (1978) | College Depicted Negatively
    Dean Wormer is depicted as overly vindictive, corrupt and an all-around bad person and the main antagonist of the Delta fraternity.
  • Professor Jennings (Donald Sutherland) smokes pot with his students, has been working on a novel for 4 1/2 years which he calls "a piece of shit" and says that he finds famed writer John Milton as boring as his students probably do.