Young People Maligned as Irresponsible

Table Of Contents

Explanation of Conservative Trope

Young people aren't old enough to always make the right decisions, but Hollywood almost universally focuses on all the ways young people mess up. Then they play into conservative orthodoxy by inserting a strong (almost always male) figure who comes in and teaches them how to do things responsibly.

Main Description

Hollywood sure loves to caricature young people as woefully irresponsible, often putting them in outlandish situations that undoubtedly require them to seek help from a responsible elder. More often than not, when faced with a choice to do "right" or "wrong," young people in movies almost universally choose the "wrong" thing to do. While young people certainly make mistakes in real life -- it is a part of growing up -- Hollywood depicts young people in a way that they will almost always do wrong until a mature and responsible authority figure comes to their rescue and teaches them the "right way" to do things.

Conservative Trope Examples

  • Ocean's Twelve (2004)
    Topher Grace playing Topher Grace yells out, "Jesus Christ, are you people retarded? It says Do Not Disturb!" when Rusty knocks on his hotel room door. He trashed his room and talks erratically, "I'm sorry. Russ, look, I know this is your joint. I just... there's this girl. I love her, man. I love her, but she is driving me crazy! I can't sleep. I can't work. I quit the show. I totally phoned in that Dennis Quaid movie. I mean, it's like..."
    Staff Aside
    This is over the top self-deprecating satire about Hollywood actors, but not everyone will realize it. And humor and satire is a great way to subconsciously promote negative beliefs about actors, Hollywood and young people. And do not overlook the fact they picked a young actor over an older one for this role. That was purposeful as false negative stereotypes about young people are easy go-tos for laughs so it would not have been as funny as an older actor.
  • Varsity Blues (1999)
    Tweeder 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.
  • True Lies (1994)
    Harry'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.
  • A 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.
  • PCU (1994)
    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.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
    Young people are depicted as irresponsible with Ferris Bueller and friends playing hooky.
    Staff Aside
    It'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 Lazy
    Spicoli (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)
    The 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.