Criminal Justice Depicted with Conservative Biases

Table Of Contents

Conservative Trope Examples

  • Nobody (2021) | Vigilantism is Justified
    Hutch (Bob Odenkirk) boldly tells five belligerent hooligans harassing a young woman on a bus that he's "going to f*ck" them up before emptying all the bullets from his revolver and tossing his gun onto the floor. He proceeds to fight all five at once, seriously wounding them all despite the odds being stacked against him in a fight scene that lasted over four minutes. After all is said and done the young woman is safe and Hutch casually exits the bus, apologizes to the driver "for the mess," and walks off into the night.
  • Darlene (Lisa Emery) orders Sheriff Nix to find a way to sell the opium she illegally grows since the cartel won't work with her anymore after she killed 57 people with a poisoned shipment. Despite initially showing misgivings, Sheriff Nix agrees to her demands.
  • Kingsman The Secret Service (2014) | Vigilantism is Justified
    The Kingsman are a secret spy service formed by British elite not beholden to international customs and law who do whatever it takes to save the world from bad guys who, surprise surprise, happen to be corrupt politicians and environmentalists using global warming as a pretext for committing mass genocide and ushering in a new world order of [liberal] elites.
    Staff Aside
    The film doesn't explicitly criticize liberal elites, but it's inferred so strongly that it's difficult to ignore.
  • The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) | Defense Lawyers Depicted Negatively
    Mickey Haller gives the bailiff $200 in a Christmas card for preferential treatment including moving one of his clients further up the list to save him time.
  • The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) | Defense Lawyers Depicted Negatively
    Matthew represents known criminals including a biker gang and says his worst professional fear is having to defend an innocent person which is depicted as being very unlikely.
  • Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is depicted as exploiting the legal system to get clients off the hook or getting them to agree to less favorable plea deals so he can make more money.
  • Attorney client privilege prevents Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) from presenting evidence that could exonerate a previous client of his who he encouraged to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.
  • Matthew McConaughey engages in unethical schemes to get money throughout the movie including hiring a fake freelancer to film his wealthy, high profile client that he "pays off" to get a kickback.
  • Unthinkable (2010)
    Clandestine officer H (Samuel L Jackson) brutally tortured suspected terrorist Yusuf Atta Mohammed (Michael Sheen) and even slashed his wife's throat right in front of him because Yusuf is threatening to detonate nuclear bombs he hid in three different cities.
  • Unthinkable (2010)
    A former Delta Force soldier and bomb expert placed three nuclear bombs in three American cities and then sends a videotaped confession to the government saying that the bombs will detonate within a week.
  • All About Steve (2009) | Assault Played for Laughs
    Steve (Bradley Cooper) punches Hartman (Thomas Haden Church) in the face because he's goading Mary (Sandra Bullock) to continue pursuing a relationship with Steve even though he made it abundantly clear he wasn't interested in her.
  • Mike Tyson knocks Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) out with a punch in the face for stealing his tiger.
    Staff Aside
    The scene is really, really funny but still lends credence to the idea it's better to just hit someone instead of taking other action.
  • I Love You Man (2009) | Assault Played for Laughs
    Peter (Paul Rudd) gets up from his desk, stares down Tevin, and slaps him in the face without saying a word after Tevin tries to poach one of his real estate clients.
  • Tropic Thunder (2008) | Assault Played for Laughs
    A fuming studio boss Les Grossman (Tom Cruise), upset with the progress of the movie, directs the key grip, who is likely the strongest person in the room, to "hit that director in the face, really fu*king hard!" The key grip walks over to the director, says "sorry, man," and punches him in the face.
    Staff Aside
    Tom Cruise is hilariously over the top intense in this cameo. The scene is laugh out loud funny. Which makes the point. If you thought someone would get in trouble for this, you wouldn't laugh. But in the movies, punching someone in the face is almost always acceptable without consequences.
  • Fool's Gold (2008) | Assault Played for Laughs
    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.
  • The Brave One (2007) | Vigilantism is Justified
    On a mostly empty subway car, two men steal a kid's iPod, assault a man with his kid and chase them out at the next stop. They then approach "The Brave One" Jodie Foster sitting alone at the far end and one man pulls out a scary looking knife, runs it across her skin and then says, "Have you ever been fucked by a --" upon which she pulls out a gun and shoots them both dead.
    Staff Aside
    This is such an overly extreme over the top crime fearmongering.
  • Right at Your Door (2006)
    Terrorists detonate three dirty bombs in different parts of Los Angeles, destroying large swaths of downtown and filling the air with a toxic ash.
  • Thank You for Smoking (2005) | Defense Lawyers Depicted Negatively
    When Joey asks his Dad about his homework assignment, "why is the American government the best government?" Nick responds jokingly, "because of our endless appeals system."
    Staff Aside
    Conservatives favor restricting most all rights (except guns) including those who are accused or convicted of crimes whereas Democrats are defenders of freedom. They also are critical of defense lawyers. So a joke about endless appeals resonates with conservatives.
  • The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) | Assault Played for Laughs
    Cal (Seth Rogan) flicks and then punches David (Paul Rudd) "in the fleshy patch where [his] nuts used to be" because David is too shy to go talk to a woman Cal wants him to hit on.
  • Man on Fire (2004) | Vigilantism is Justified
    Paul Rayburn (Christopher Walken) tells the director of the Mexican Federal Ministerial Police that Creasy (Denzel Washington) will "deliver more justice in a weekend than ten years of your [Mexican] courts and tribunals. Just stay out of his way" while discussing Creasy's plans to find a young girl who's been kidnapped.
  • Man on Fire (2004) | Vigilantism is Justified
    John Creasy (Denzel Washington) duct tapes a suspected kidnappers hands to a steering wheel and cuts off a finger after he initially refuses to divulge any information about where the young girl John's looking for is. John then cuts another finger and part of his ear off, which finally gets the suspected kidnapper to spill the beans on where the girl is. After getting all the information he came for, John lights the kidnappers cigarette then shoots him in the head.
  • Bridget Joness Diary (2001) | Assault with a Punch Depicted as Acceptable
    Mark (Colin Firth) angrily tells Daniel (Hugh) to step outside of Bridget's (Renée Zellweger) apartment and when they both are outside Mark says "I should have done this year ago" and proceeds to punch him square in the face. Daniel asks him "what the f*ck do you think you're doing" and Mark responds "this" before punching him in the face again. Instead of trying to break up the fight, Bridget's friend runs into a restaurant and excitedly yells "fight! Well, quick! It's a real fight!" and four waiters and the manager run outside to watch and egg on two grown men fight in a scene that lasted an absurdly long two minutes and thirty-eight seconds.
  • Armageddon (1998) | Assault Depicted as Acceptable
    Harry (Bruce Willis) is so super over-protective of his daughter Grace that when he finds out she slept with his employee AJ (Ben Affleck) on an oil rig, he chases after him around the oil rig with a shotgun actually shooting at and almost hitting him.
  • The Rainmaker (1997) | Lawyers Depicted Negatively
    Danny Devito is depicted as "Ambulance Chaser" lawyer
  • Satan is a criminal defense attorney in human form (Al Pacino) who owns a law firm that gets really bad guilty people off.
  • The movie propagates the stereotype that lawyers lie and cannot be trusted by having hilarity ensure when lawyer Jim Carey is forced to tell the truth no matter what after his son's birthday wish comes true.
  • Martin Vail (Richard Gere) wins his case by reason of insanity when his client Aaron (Edward Norton) fakes a split personality disorder and pretends to be timid and nice when instead he turns out to be a very bad person.
  • Martin Vail (Richard Gere) has a reputation of winning high profile criminal trials on technicalities.
  • Happy Gilmore (1996) | Assault Played for Laughs
    Happy throws off his hockey gloves and repeatedly punches his coach while screaming "you think you're better than me?!" after he doesn't make the amateur hockey team he tries out for.
  • Happy Gilmore (1996)
    The IRS is seizing Happy Gilmore's grandmother's house because she owes $270k in back taxes. The IRS agent on site is not very sympathetic and eventually gets thrown out a glass door and down the stairs by Happy.
  • Happy Gilmore (1996) | Assault Played for Laughs
    A spectator heckles Happy Gilmore after he misses multiple easy putts and he responds by ripping off his shirt and punching him in the face. Happy has a background in hockey where fights are allowed and so it's funny because the spectator deserves it.
  • True Lies (1994)
    Muslim terrorists trying to detonate a nuclear bomb in the United States is the plot.
  • Dazed and Confused (1993) | Assault Played for Laughs
    Hazing is normalized in multiple scenes throughout the movie, with soon-to-be seniors literally chasing down soon-to-be freshmen to paddle them.
    Staff Aside
    The movie, which was filmed in the early 90's but takes place in the 70's, is glorifying the "good ole' days" when boys could be boys and hazing was a rite of passage.
  • Mitch (Tom Cruise) is hired at a prestigious Memphis law firm he quickly realizes is rife with corruption. The lawyers at the firm help their clients engage in money laundering, tax-avoidance, and a host of other shady practices any respectable defense lawyer wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.
  • Patriot Games (1992)
    Harrison Ford throws the IRA mole inside the British government down his basement stairs and shoots him in the leg so that he tells him about IRA terrorists coming for his family and British royals.
    Staff Aside
    You can't write many scenarios better justifying torture than to help terrorists from killing your wife and daughter.
  • Officer Lewis repeatedly punches a handcuffed suspect in the face instead of moving to restrain him after the suspect broke free and hit Officer Lewis.
    Staff Aside
    Officers certainly have the right to protect themselves, but the suspect was handcuffed and inside a police station filled with officers who could have easily subdued the suspect without punching him in the face multiple times.
  • Airplane! (1980) | Assault Played for Laughs
    A hysterical woman starts screaming as the plane suddenly rapidly descends and a large group of people — including a nun and monk — line up and take turns violently shaking and slapping her to try to get her to stop.
    Staff Aside
    The scene is obviously played for laughs lampooning the idea that if a woman panics, you can shake or slap her to get her to stop screaming. But making light of a woman panicking and being physically assaulted actually normalizes the behavior and perpetuates stereotypes. And can you imagine a group of people lining up to slap a screaming man?
  • Criminal defense lawyers are often disparaged and portrayed as standing in the way of bringing a suspect to justice instead of as a constitutionally guaranteed advocate for a person charged with a crime.
  • Billy Bob Thornton successfully gets a criminal off the hook who goes on to kill an entire family which leads him to quit the law firm he co-founded. He develops a drinking problem and practices law on his own which is the basis for the series.