Government Depicted Negatively

Table Of Contents
Federal Government Depicted Negatively
  Federal Agencies Depicted Negatively
    CIA Depicted with Conservative Biases
    NSA Depicted with Conservative Biases
    State Department Depicted Negatively
  Federal Government is Corrupt
  Federal Law Enforcement Depicted Negatively
    FBI Depicted Negatively
      FBI Depicted as Incompetent
      FBI Interfering in Local Matters
        FBI Stealing Local Cases
        FBI Taking Undue Credit from Local Law Enforcement
  Federal Workers Depicted Negatively
  IRS Depicted Negatively
Government Depicted as Overly Bureaucratic
Government Workers Depicted Negatively
  Government Workers Depicted as Lazy
Politicians Depicted Negatively
  Democratic Politicians Depicted Negatively
  Politicians Depicted as Corrupt
    Election Outcomes are Rigged
  Politicians Depicted as Incompetent

Conservative Trope Examples

  • The FBI interviews a woman at a catering company who says "things have slowed down a lot because of COVID, the economy" in an episode that filmed 18 months after Biden took office. In fact, however, the economy was doing fantastic and covid was no longer a problem when they started filming in July of 2022 and the episode aired later that September.
    Staff Aside
    They say the economy is bad when Biden happens to be president when the opposite is actually true. Companies are having some troubles but it's because the economy is so hot and the unemployment rate so low, they are having trouble finding workers. Little things like this make a HUGE different as conservative audiences are told the economy is doing poorly when Democrats are in charge, and they will believe it no matter how good things are.
  • FBI is corrupt doing deal with drug kingpin
  • FBI Agent Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner) has multiple illicit sexual encounters with Russ (Marc Menchaca) and gains his trust by convincing Russ that the two of them should open up a bait and tackle shop only to betray him and threaten to send him off to prison unless he becomes an FBI informant.
  • FBI Agent Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner) is a rogue FBI agent who will do whatever it takes to bring down Marty (Jason Bateman) and his family regardless of the law.
  • The FBI cut a deal with drug lord Omar Navarro, but then went back on their word and changed the deal at the last second, telling Navarro the FBI now insists he remain as head of the cartel and be an FBI informant where he would coordinate with the FBI on "monetary seizures" from the cartel.
    Staff Aside
    Not only did the FBI renege on their deal, they are depicted as caring more about "monetary seizures" than actually getting drugs off the streets.
  • The movie portrays the CIA and American government as a bunch of inept and patronizing elites who prevent the hero private contractors from doing their job. It also gives credence to a number of conspiracy theories that have been debunked, most importantly the allegation that the CIA station chief in Benghazi issued a stand-down order to the soldiers at the compound.
    Historical Context
    A movie falsely critical of Hillary Clinton was released as the 2016 Presidential campaign was ramping up.
  • Kingsman The Secret Service (2014) | Politicians Depicted as Corrupt
    A President who has an uncanny resemblance to President Obama is persuaded to step back and permit the genocide of the vast majority of the human race by billionaire tech tycoon Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) in exchange for him and the other chosen elite being given the opportunity to watch it all from the safety of a secret underground bunker.
    Production Notes
    The director of the film insists the president who has his head blown off in the film is simply "reminiscent" of President Obama and not meant to be an "attack on Obama at all."
  • Castle says a contractor's motive for murder could be that he was determined to stay latched onto the "federal teat."
    Staff Aside
    This is minor but said so matter-of-factly. Referencing the federal government outsourcing work to contractors as the "federal teat" is a negative portrayal of the government. Subtle things like this add up.
  • Isles talks about the NSA surveilling average Americans' phones which is not a thing.
  • The FBI is depicted as lacking morals and uses an innocent woman connected to Russian mob resulting in Beckett leaking information to save her which gets her fired.
  • Live Free or Die Hard (2007) | Federal Agencies Depicted Negatively
    Matt Farrell says "It took FEMA *five days* to get water to the Superdome" when John McClane wonders aloud if the government has a department that can handle a problem they encounter.
  • Live Free or Die Hard (2007) | Federal Agencies Depicted Negatively
    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) | FBI Depicted as Incompetent
    The FBI cyber division has trouble handling a massive cyber attack on the country, but a lone hacker Matthew Farrell is able to figure things out and help save the day instead.
  • ATF agent Jack Valentine is foiled multiple times by arms trafficker Yuri Orlov despite the extensive resources of Interpol backing him up. When they finally do catch him, higher ups in the US federal government orchestrate his release so he can facilitate under the table weapons deals to further America's interests.
    Historical Context
    The real life weapons smuggler Viktor Bout that the movie was largely based on was caught in Thailand in 2008 with help from the DEA. The USA successfully got him extradited and subsequently found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison in 2012. The movie version doesn't go to prison though because the federal government is corrupt.
  • After the Sunset (2004) | FBI Depicted as Incompetent
    FBI Agent Lloyd is constantly outwitted by jewel thief Max.
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002) | FBI Depicted as Incompetent
    Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) concocts an elaborate scheme where he convinces a group of aspiring female flight attendants that he's an airline pilot and that they will be accompanying him on a two-month tour of Europe, but what he's really using them for is to avoid being captured by FBI agents waiting for him at the airport. He confidently walks in to the airport with the ladies surrounding him, breezing past the countless FBI agents and police officers there to nab him, with all of them instead freezing and gawking at the beautiful women as they walk through the airport, allowing Frank to walk right past them onto his flight.
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002) | FBI Depicted as Incompetent
    Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) convinces Carl (Tom Hanks) to let him go to the bathroom alone on the airplane because he's "going to be sick" after finding out that his father has passed away. He still hasn't come out of the bathroom as the plane begins its descent, so the agents break in to the toilet only to find Frank has vanished. They quickly realize Frank crawled through the space below the toilet and into the cargo hold below. As the plane lands the FBI agents feverishly run through the cabin telling people to stay in their seats, but it's too late and Carl hopelessly watches as Frank jumps out of the plane and escapes from the FBI yet again.
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002) | FBI Depicted as Incompetent
    Carl (Tom Hanks) catches Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) red handed in his hotel room, but Frank talks his way out of getting arrested by convincing Carl that he's a member of the Secret Service. He even gives Carl his wallet to prove he's a Secret Service agent, but instead of opening up the wallet and verifying Frank's story, he inexplicably keeps it closed and chooses to believe him. Frank then tells Carl that he needs to take some evidence down to his car and asks him to stay in the room to make sure nothing is tampered with. By the time Carl opens up the wallet to find it full of random clippings Frank is stepping into his car and driving away.
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002) | IRS Depicted Negatively
    Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken) complains that he "had a deal with" the IRS but "they ate the cake, now they want the crumbs." As he continues to express his frustration with the agency he threatens to "make them chase me for the rest of their lives."
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002) | IRS Depicted Negatively
    Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken) asks his son "do you know what would happen if the IRS found out I was driving around in a new coupe?" after Frank Jr. tried to gift him a new Cadillac. Later Frank Sr. says he had to close his store and blamed the "godd*mn government," saying that "they hit you when you're down. I wasn't going to let them take it from me, so I just shut the doors myself, called their bluff."
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002) | FBI Depicted Negatively
    Frank tells Carl (Tom Hanks) that there must be better hotel rooms to stay in, but Carl matter-of-factly says "it's the best room the FBI can afford." Frank responds "it's OK, I've stayed in worse."
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002) | FBI Depicted as Incompetent
    Frank outsmarts FBI agent Carl Hanratty in multiple embarrassing episodes until he is caught much later with the help of French authorities.
  • The Bourne Identity (2002) | CIA Depicted with Conservative Biases
    The entire movie follows a team of CIA assassins trying to hunt down and kill Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) after he failed at an assassination attempt on an exiled Nigerian dictator.
  • Rules of Engagement (2000)
    Ambassador Mourain (Ben Kingsley) is shown as scared, weak, clueless & unpatriotic during an evacuation of the US embassy in Yemen. He yells in a panic, "Colonel, we can’t wait here! Let’s go! Why are we still here?" just before he is given the embassy's USA flag brave marines took down while under fire. He is later convicted of lying in a plot to frame Samuel Jackson's Colonel Childers.
    Staff Aside
    In real-life, ambassadors know the risks of regions they serve and act nobly along with all the men and women they serve with.
  • Enemy of the State (1998) | NSA Depicted with Conservative Biases
    Thomas Brian Reynolds (Jon Voight) is a corrupt top NSA official who kills a sitting Congressman in order to help push through a bill that will unleash a virtual surveillance state in the country after the Congressman refuses to help him.
  • Armageddon (1998) | IRS Depicted Negatively
    One of the demands of the oil rig astronauts is that they never want to pay taxes ever again.
  • Oil rig drillers are depicted as more competent than NASA engineers and astronauts and save the world after only two weeks training because their “practical” private sector experience means they know better than the government scientists whose solutions are portrayed as overly complex and bureaucratic.
  • Democratic Arkansas Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) is depicted as a deeply flawed and manipulative person who will do anything it takes to become President, even if it means pushing the boundaries of what is legally and politically acceptable. Worse, his character impregnates an underage girl and then he and his campaign try to cover it up.
    Historical Context
    This movie was based off an anomalously written book purported to be loosely based off then Governor Bill Clinton's 1992 Presidential campaign, but many aspects of the book, and later film, veer wildly off course and can lead an otherwise neutral person to falsely believe it's a true story.
  • Happy Gilmore (1996) | IRS Depicted Negatively
    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.
    Additional Tropes: Assault Played for Laughs
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) | Government Depicted as Overly Bureaucratic
    When a reporter asks Detective Walsh, "Why did everybody tear out of here?" he jokes, "It's coming up on shift change. The bean counters are worried about overtime, so we sent everybody back to the precinct to punch out. The next shift is gonna be here in a minute."
  • Gutter (Jon Favreau) hallucinates a mock Congress scene after smoking pot in which he says, "I didn't exhale."
    Historical Context
    This makes fun of Bill Clinton who on March 29, 1992, admitted he "experimented with marijuana a time or two" but "didn’t inhale." The movie released in 1994, six months before midterm elections in which Republicans regained the house and senate by large margins. Jokes like this about a Democrat in election years help Republicans.
  • The Firm (1993) | IRS Depicted Negatively
    Mitch says what scares him is "what the government can do... to anybody" after the pizza parlor who he worked for when he was young went out of business because the owner did not pay his taxes to the IRS.
  • The Firm (1993) | FBI Depicted Negatively
    FBI agent Wayne Terrance says, "I'm a federal agent! You know what that means, you lowlife motherfucker? It means you've got no rights -- your life is mine! I could kick your teeth down your throat and yank them out your asshole, and I'm not even violating your civil rights!"
  • John McClane argues with very unlikable Carmine Lorenzo in the air traffic control tower because John is upset at mistakes he feels they are making dealing with terrorists. Lorenzo cites "FAA regulations regarding unauthorized personnel in the control tower" and has John removed.
  • Major Grant tells Carmine (Dennis Franz) to "get this bureaucrat out of Mr. McClane's face! Now!" and Carmine sheepishly backs down.
  • John McClane (Bruce Willis) calls for help using a radio transmitter he got from terrorists. Instead of responding with concern, a woman in an official government office cites FCC regulations against civilians using that frequency and advises him to get off as it is for emergencies only. John replies with, "no sh#t lady, do I sound like I'm ordering a pizza!?" before getting cutoff by gunfire which is so loud they remove their headsets. Despite all that, they merely send a single squad car to investigate.
  • The FBI takes over the local police handling of the hostage situation in Nakatomi tower and one agent says, "when we commandeer your men, we'll try to let you know". Later while in a helicopter one agent estimates that 20-25% of the hostages may die during their raid and the other agent flippantly replies, "I can live with that." They engage in some cocky banter as their helicopters swoop in to land on the roof to start a hostage rescue. But it is a trap and the terrorist set off an explosion that blows up the helicopters. John McClane on his own saves the hostages instead by leading them away from the roof so they can run downstairs and escape the building.
    Additional Tropes: FBI Depicted as Incompetent
  • Ghostbusters (1984)
    The Democratic NYC mayor's office is depicted as getting in the way and hindering the Ghostbusters from saving the city -- even having them committed after the ghosts all escaped. The mayor finally lets the Ghostbusters save the city but not before Peter says that if they succeed, he will have "saved the lives of millions of registered voters."
    Staff Aside
    The false notion that all politicians really care about -- and in this case a Democrat since it's NYC in the 80s -- is getting re-elected is presented with humor in a way that it is accepted as matter of fact.
  • Walter Peck is an overly rude and condescending caricature of an Environmental Protection Agency inspector who arrives at Ghostbusters HQ with a warrant to turn off their machines. Egon warns Walter that turning off their machines would be extremely dangerous. Walter replies, "I'll tell *you* what's hazardous. You're facing Federal prosecution for about a half dozen environmental violations. Now either you shut off these machines, or we'll shut them off for you." When they refuse to comply, he tells an officer "If he does that again, you can shoot him." They shut it down, havoc ensues and all the caught ghosts escape and terrorize the city.
    Staff Aside
    Of course, if the real EPA is going to make decisions like that it will be done responsibly and in a professional manner taking into account science. They don't just shut down dangerous facilities on a whim and make sure there is a safe process.
  • Chuck Rhodes is a Democratic federal prosecutor who often engages in unethical behavior, dirty politics and often breaks or flouts the law in an overzealous attempt to indict billionaire Bobby Axelrod and other wealthy Wall Street money managers.

Conservative Biases

  • Republicans promote the idea that the federal government is the problem and not the solution to major problems facing society so whenever it is depicted as inefficient on screen it benefits them
  • Private industry is almost always involved and plays a major part whenever the federal government is able to solve a major problem, which leads many people to think that the government can't address issues without outside help