Young People Depicted Negatively
Conservatives often malign younger generations as a purposeful propaganda tactic. Young people currently vote for the Democratic party significantly more than the Republican party. They support gay & womens' rights and are turned off by socially conservative Christians, who do not. Conservatives favor regressive traditions of the past and "the good old days" over progressive, future oriented ideas and generations. They also do not want the voting age lowered to 16 or 17 either and so any negative stereotypical depicted of young people on screen helps keep that from happening.
They have to explain to their viewers why this is the case and part of that entails criticizing young people. They don't know any better or are naive or inattentive or lazy or irresponsible are false stereotypes they propagate. And compared with previous generations, younger generations are better educated, healthier & informed.
Movies & TV shows need conflict and so people will have flaws no matter their age. But, there are many more negative stereotypes about younger generations depicted on screen than older ones. We show some of these below.
Conservative Trope Examples
- A young social media influencer woman is depicted as vapid in her conversation with Beckett where she also refuses to listen to reason that she is in danger being a target of a serial killer and she has important things to do. She snaps out of it when she reaches her car and sees her friend dead in the passenger seat.
- We're the Millers (2013) | Young People Depicted as DumbCasey Mathis (Emma Roberts) goes out with a boy who talks using stereotypical dumb young people slang and has a misspelled "No Ragrets" tattoo on his collar bone that when asked says he has no regrets about getting it.Additional Tropes: Attractive Women Interested in "Losers"
- Fool's Gold (2008) | Young People Depicted as DumbGemma has a "revelation" that her father Nigel "unconsciously" named his yacht, Precious Gem, after her. He doesn't correct her and clarifies that he intentionally named it after her upon which she insists again he did it "unconsciously."
- Live Free or Die Hard (2007) | Young People Don't Appreciate Old ThingsDriving with John McClane, Matthew Farrell gets upset hearing Creedence Clearwater Revival on the radio saying it isn't "classic rock" but "OLD rock" and that "what sucked back then still sucks today." When John turns the volume up he says, "This is like having a pine cone shoved in my ass."
- 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 AsideIt'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.
- The vast majority of the servers and staff at the restaurant are teenagers or young adults who do the minimum amount of work required, spit in (or worse!) customers food if they send it back to the kitchen, and would rather be doing just about anything other than working.Other Tropes: Workers Depicted as Lazy
- Rusty (Brad Pitt) teaches four young male and one female television actor how to play cards, and they are all depicted as really bad and dumb including someone laying down a non-matching flush saying "all red". Daniel Ocean (George Clooney) comes in later and wins a really big pot taking advantage of their stupidity.Other Tropes: Young People Depicted as Dumb
- Varsity Blues (1999) | Young People Maligned as IrresponsibleTweeder steals a police car and goes joyriding while drinking with three naked women. The local police force won't do anything because it's a small town and they're on the football team. But the two police officers do say they never crossed a line to steal a car when they were young.
- Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) | Young People Maligned as InattentiveMartin Blank (John Cusack) engages in a long shootout with an assassin in the local UltiMart convenience store and the young store clerk is completely oblivious playing an arcade game with his headphones on and would have died if Martin hadn't pulled him out of the store before it exploded.Staff AsideThis wouldn't have been funny or believable unless it was a young person. It's because the false stereotype that young people are less inattentive or more easily distracted is rife in media and on screen.
- True Lies (1994) | Young People Maligned as Disrespectful to EldersHarry's daughter Dana is depicted as a rebellious, irresponsible teenager who steals money from his partner Gib's wallet and also throws away a snow globe her Dad gave her.Additional Tropes: Young People Maligned as Irresponsible
- PCU (1994) | Young People Maligned as LazyA group referred to as "Jerry Town" ala Jerry Garcia are portrayed as a bunch of lazy, irresponsible pot smoking hippies who cannot focus and talk in over-the-top stereotypical stoner voices.Additional Tropes: Young People Depicted as Dumb
- 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 AsideThis fuels negative conservative stereotypes about college that many classes are not useful and that young people are lazy and make bad decisions.Other Tropes: Young People Maligned as Lazy
- PCU (1994) | Young People Depicted as DumbA student protester yells, "Free Nelson Mandela" and his buddy explains to him that they freed him already.
- 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 AsideScreenwriters 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.
- Back to the Future Part II (1989) | Young People Depicted as DumbAn older Biff tries to reason with a younger version of himself after traveling back in time, but it takes a lot of explaining as his younger self is portrayed as overly dumb.Staff AsideBiff starts out caricaturely dumb but becomes smart as he gets older. Older Biff isn't just more experienced or wiser, he's actually smart. This is taken to be normal as young people on screen are often portrayed as not as smart as older people.
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) | Young People Maligned as IrresponsibleYoung people are depicted as irresponsible with Ferris Bueller and friends playing hooky.Staff AsideIt's all for fun and shouldn't be taken seriously, but movies like this do reinforce false negative stereotypes that kids may try to get out of going to school.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) | Young People Maligned as LazySpicoli (Sean Penn) is depicted as a lazy, dumb loser with an over the top accent who does poorly in school. Their use of pot is stereotyped as over the top bad making Spicoli very lazy & irresponsible including showing up very late to class because he couldn't figure out where his classroom was.
- Animal House (1978) | Young People Maligned as IrresponsibleThe entire Delta fraternity has failing GPAs with 1.2, 0.2, 1.6 and 0.0 which is played for laughs because they spend more time partying and having fun instead of taking college seriously.