When you go to see a movie, especially one that has a modern, realistic setting, it’s a good bet that you’ll see a lot of familiar stuff. After all, any visual media will try to imitate the real world in some way to make the story more believable. Filling a movie setting with characters with familiar jobs is a logical step to enhance that realism, especially if the movie in question deals heavily with a specific industry or profession.
However, the way most jobs are actually handled hardly makes the movie interesting and interesting, and more often than not the filmmakers choose to play certain jobs as stereotypes that vaguely resemble their real-life counterparts. This is obvious in some cases, and can be played for laughs or used as the main plot of the movie.
However, some of these fictional depictions of common jobs are so pervasive and consistent that they have caused lasting and sometimes harmful stigma to the people who hold them in real life. Here are ten examples of these stereotypes in movies that never seem to go away no matter how often they are used.
10 The construction workers are stupid and misogynistic
One of the oldest and most pervasive stereotypes in movies, TV, and even Sunday morning comics is that anyone who happens to work in construction is only as smart as the materials they work with. Besides, if you happen to see some of these guys on a break (and they’re almost always men), they’ll probably explode into a symphony of falls if the woman is within sight range.
In fact, people who work in construction usually have great mathematical skills and spatial awareness. Most areas of construction work will also have very specific guidelines to follow for different types of projects such as hospitals, which require whoever does the work to have a working encyclopedia of knowledge in order to get the job. Catching passerby sexual harassment is also a great way to lose a construction job, as it runs the construction company at risk of expensive lawsuits.
9 Security guards get paid to sleep
If you’ve seen security guards in movies, there’s a good chance they do literally anything but their jobs, from playing poker to reading to sleeping at their desks. This allows everything necessary for the plot to occur without incident. In those few instances where we watch a movie security guard awake and moving around, they will be oblivious enough to allow all sorts of shenanigans to happen within inches of them.
Real-life security guards aren’t like this, mostly because of pure job preservation. Falling asleep on the job is a reason for immediate termination for most security companies, as is watching TV, playing video games, or having a poker night in the camera room. Most places that hire security guards will also have a long list of policies and procedures that those guards will be responsible for enforcing as well, which may include emergency response or checking critical equipment such as fire extinguishers at regular intervals, giving them more to do than just standing around for hours at a every-time.
8 Therapists make things worse
Film therapists can vary from disinterested, to unprofessional, to parodies of Sigmund Freud. They speak in unhelpful cliches, don’t listen to their patients, and would even cross all kinds of boundaries to sleep with them, and these are just the ones Lecter didn’t call. In short, most film therapists are so ineffective that they either don’t help, or they make their patients’ conditions worse.
In fact, a therapist’s first and foremost professional concern is the well-being of their patients. While there are different approaches to treatment, and not every approach works for every patient, the goal is the same. Not only do they try to help, but there are strict, non-negotiable boundaries between patient and therapist to ensure treatment is handled effectively and professionally. It goes without saying that sleeping with a sick person is also a malpractice of the first order, and certainly never used as a therapeutic tool.
7 Mechanics con artists
In film and television, auto mechanics have an annoying tendency to add many expensive parts and services you don’t need just to make a quick buck. In extreme cases, the mechanic involved might even vandalize your car while it’s in the shop to make sure you need those expensive repairs. If you were in a movie, your routine oil change would probably develop into a near-total repair of your car and the mechanic would laugh all the way to the bank.
However, real mechanics won’t work nearly this way. Mechanical shops rely on repeat business and personal referrals, and lying about a customer’s needs or sabotaging their car is a good way to earn a bad reputation. In cases where a mechanic recommends another service or an extra part, that recommendation comes because something is so close to going wrong, they don’t want to blame it – something made even more likely by this stereotype in popular media!
6 Retail workers are full-time or ignorant
In the event that you see a retail worker on TV or in a movie, they are probably glass-eyed space students with no outside knowledge of operating a cash register. They may be part-time teens who haven’t yet discovered a job, or high school dropouts with little or no motivation, but the common line in the media is that retail workers are a combination of lazy, sloppy, and mean-spirited. ignorant. Also Ron Swanson knows better than them.
This is not only untrue, but effectively harmful, everyone interacts with retail workers, and the more people buy into this picture of the average worker, the worse they treat the people they meet. This reached an extreme during the COVID-19 pandemic, when retail workers were experiencing spikes in depression and anxiety, as PBS Arizona reported. In fact, the typical retail worker works hard to meet the expectations of both customers and businesses, both of which can be outrageous, especially during the holiday season. Their knowledge base when it comes to the specific products they sell can reach encyclopedic levels, especially with specialized equipment like cameras.
5 The cops are either corrupt or useless
Outside of police procedurals, television and film usually characterize the police in one of two ways. At one end of the spectrum is the corrupt or evil cop who is more about his own self-interest than upholding the law. In reverse, we have the overweight, cookie-chewing officer who is mostly there to make the heroes’ vigilante activities seem justified. Disabled and papered police departments may fall on both sides of this spectrum while being equally useless in fighting crime.
Real-life police officers would never behave this way. Police departments maintain high standards for their officers, and even if they are not made public, most cases of misconduct or omission result in harsh penalties, up to and including termination. The kind of antics that are portrayed in training day He was never allowed to go on for any length of time in fact, and the police response to the children in danger was more enthusiastic than Home Alone would lead audiences to believe.
4 Doctors are 90% ego
Something about a Hollywood PhD has a way of inflating its bearer’s ego. If they are not portrayed as heroic, the doctors in the movie are outrageously conceited and tend to belittle anyone without a doctor’s name attached to theirs. These documents will be rude, condescending, and unpleasant to everyone, even when their efforts save lives. More often than not they’re in it for their Lamborghini paycheck and their ability to utter the sentence “It’s okay, I’m a doctor.” at the first opportunity.
Holders of actual medical licenses, especially surgeons, often display a humility that no one would expect from those who have completed such an advanced degree. A lot of this comes down to knowing that their jobs may very well deal with the life and death of their patients, and that this responsibility has a very real impact. Gregory House may be extraordinarily entertaining, and Stephen Strange’s peacock in the operating room is a great introduction to the character, but both of those examples are light years away from resembling actual doctors.
3 Food service workers are children
Just like retail workers, the movies seem to have a very unflattering opinion of what it’s like to be a typical food service worker on the job. A good chunk of the movies where food service people get any focus will portray them as talkative, irresponsible kids who couldn’t care less about your order. At best, this shoot will make them young and inexperienced, at worst, they will be childish and immature, treating the job more like a hangout than a real job.
This is another job that misunderstanding and misrepresentation in Hollywood can have horrific results in the real world. Waiting staff work in a fast-paced, chaotic environment, and don’t have time to gossip with their co-workers. As a receiving labor, much of their livelihood depends on doing a great job for their clients to earn better tips, and that means being mindful. Unfortunately, the food service’s working conditions are so low that it only carries a 14% satisfaction rate, as reported by workforce.com.
2 Car salesmen want to rip you off
If someone were to buy a car in the movies, they would have to go through a pushy, inattentive, and cunning car salesman. This card-holding grad of the PT Barnum School of Sales Art will witness a family of four and recommend the new Ford Mustang with many options to fit the application model. To him, customers walking around and talking dollar signs, he’s there for the sole purpose of making more money, and if he gets the chance to raise the price on something he’ll do it.
Actual car salespeople may be looking to make a profit, but ripping you off simply isn’t in their best interests. The average consumer will buy a different car every few years, and repeat business and referrals is the most efficient way a seller can provide for their family. If you are not immediately satisfied with your expensive purchase, or if you find out that the seller has ripped you off in any way, everyone around you will hear about it and spread the word. Most sellers don’t last long after that, and they know it, so your satisfaction is often a major priority for them.
1 Lawyers are evil
This is the most classic stereotype in fiction. Lawyers suck blood, lie and manipulate crooks and don’t care what their client did as long as they get paid to win in court. They’ll help horrible criminals avoid jail, help morally bankrupt companies exploit their workers and the environment, and then go home and sleep like babies in lavish mansions and high-rise apartments. There are so many terrible lawyers in the media that even real-life lawyers will freely crack jokes about it, and Devil’s Advocate It can be considered as an advantage of one length!
The ethics surrounding the legal professions are actually much stricter and more complex than fictional media audiences would have them believe. Fair representation is a fundamental right in the justice system, and this means that professional attorneys must often represent clients of less than stellar reputation or morals. As for lying, no lawyer worth their fee would risk being accused of lying in court and losing their entire career or spending time in jail just to win one case. In fact, lawyers are just people who do a job, even if it’s an unpopular job.