Acceptable Professional Targets
Subtrope of Acceptable Targets, there are certain characters that are doomed to be mocked (and have a general negative characterization) just for their career choice. Please do not add particular cases to the examples listed here. Compare with Klingon Scientists Get No Respect.
- 1 Lawyers
- 2 Accountants
- 3 Debt Collectors
- 4 Managers and Consultants
- 5 Drug dealers
- 6 Paparazzi
- 7 Women in the Sex Industry
- 8 Men in the Sex Industry
- 9 Traffic Wardens
- 10 Psychologists/Psychiatrists
- 11 Loan Sharks
- 12 Plumbers
- 13 Politicians
- 14 Critics
- 15 Network executives
- 16 The staff of facilities for the commission of atrocity
- 17 Private Military Contractors
- 18 Soldiers
- 19 Bankers
- 20 Professional Wrestlers
- 21 Criminals
- 22 Fast-Food Chain Workers
- 23 Retail Workers
- 24 People who own comic book/card shops
- 25 Clowns
- 26 Mimes
- 27 Executives
- 28 Artists
- 29 Social Workers
- 30 Guidance Counselors
- 31 Proctologists
- 32 Contractors
- 33 People With Mundane Desk Jobs
- 34 Used Car Salesmen
- 35 Teachers
- 36 Priests
- 37 The HR Department
- 38 Government Employees
- 39 Engineers
- 40 Architects
- 41 Graphic Designers
- 42 Unemployed
- 43 Scientists
- 44 Police Officers
- 45 Actors, Actresses, and Celebrities in general
- 46 Journalists (aka, Newshounds)
- 47 Economists
- 48 Truck Drivers
- 49 Telemarketers
- 50 Advertising Executives
- 51 Librarians
- 52 Hunters
- 53 Female Ballet Dancers
- 54 Violists
- 55 Physicians
- 56 Merchants
I've often started off with a lawyer joke, a complete caricature of a lawyer who's been nasty, greedy, and unethical. But I've stopped that practice. I gradually realized that the lawyers in the audience didn't think the jokes were funny and the non-lawyers didn't know they were jokes.—Marc Galanter quoting Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture
Since they're trained to defend anyone, even if their client is as guilty as the devil, lawyers are often being labeled being prolific, greedy liars who will find even the most vague of loopholes in the law to get a good verdict. While there are, of course, positive portrayals in media, such as Perry Mason, they are still normally villains by default, and the source of many morality-based jokes. See Evil Lawyer Joke.
- Rumpole of the Bailey: Rumpole gives us everything from the nice ones (like Rumpole) to mercenary jerks.
- Averted when it comes to state prosecutors, which, thanks to shows like Law & Order, are practically seen as heroes.
- Averted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, which shows the the After the End 21st century, where the society got rid of all lawyers. Of course, the so-called "court of facts" is, in fact, nothing more than a Kangaroo Court, where the accused are already assumed to be guilty and must prove their innocence with hard evidence.
- Breaking Bad: Better call Saul!
- "Jurassic Park" by "Weird Al" Yankovic (parody of "MacArthur Park") has the lyric: "A huge tyrannosaurs ate our lawyer, well I suppose that proves they're really not all bad."
- 'Get Over It' by The Eagles has the lyric "Let's kill all the lawyers. Kill them tonight".
- Which, of course, is a paraphrase of a quote from Henry VI by William Shakespeare.
- When lawyers' organizations complained about lawyer jokes in the early 1990s, the Capitol Steps recorded "'Atsa Lawyer" (to the tune of "That's Amore") and included it on their 1994 album, Lord of the Fries:
Who can blacken your eye,
Kiss your money good-bye?
When you see your ex-spouse
With a low form of louse,
- The (in)famous "Let's kill all the lawyers." line from Henry VI, Part 2. Sometimes mistaken for a subversion -- (the line is spoken by a follower of the unsympathetic rebel) -- but is in fact the punchline of an extended joke about the "perfect" society: free food, free clothes, free beer and NO LAWYERS!
- Followed by a more sober reflection on the evils of law without conscience:
"Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings: but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since."
Video Games[edit | hide]
- In an episode of The Simpsons, sleazy failure lawyer Lionel Hutz says "Can you imagine a world without lawyers?" The scene shifts into his imagination, which shows all the peoples of the world holding hands and singing. Fade back to Hutz, who shudders in horror at the thought.
- In Japan, the lawyers are okay, it's the judges who are demonized.
- Which is why the judge from the aforementioned Ace Attorney games is portrayed as such a moron.
- And why the localisations play up the Cloudcuckoolander aspects of the Judge to make him endearing instead of merely being senile. Judges tend to be well-respected in the west, unless they're obviously corrupt.
- Dick Cheney has achieved what many Americans can only imagine...He shot a lawyer in the face with a shotgun. And let's not forget that he got the lawyer to apologize. And he still won't smile!
If you see an accountant in fiction, chances are he/she is dull, boring, and completely structured, being unable to relax or think outside the box; if none of the previous conditions are met, they're probably scheming something. Closely related jobs are not exempt: Auditors and Tax Collectors are unnervingly strict, heartless and unforgiving.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- An exception is Iceman, of all people. Despite being the team joker, he worked as an accountant between stints with the X-Men and the Defenders.
- Harold Crick in Stranger Than Fiction is a tax worker who is definitely dull, boring and completely structured, but not heartless, and is in fact portrayed as a good man.
- And his co-workers, while portrayed as kinda geeky, are a lot more lively than Harold, implying it's him, not the job.
- Mr. Reese in The Dark Knight is the scheming sort of accountant, attempting to blackmail his employers.
- Let's not forget one compelling reason he was "hired" was because he relocated all of the various mafia's money. He took it from their banks without their knowledge in anticipation of a police raid.
- He is also banking on the fact that "Hong Kong would never extradite [a Chinese national]". Batman doesn't recognize national sovereignty and the hurdles of due process.
- Leopold Bloom in The Producers musical and film was a textbook example of the dull, boring accountant as well as the scheming accountant (although for him it was more of a mathematical activity than anything else) but his time with Zero Mostel and/or Nathan Lane livened him up considerably. Which is understandable.
- Shallow Grave: "David may be an accountant but at least he tries". David's boringness is continually Lampshaded until David gets a whole lot less boring later on. In the words of his boss:
Lumsden: Oh, it's unfashionable, I know, but yes, we're methodical, yes, we're diligent, yes, we're serious, and where's the crime in that? Why not shout it from the rooftops? Yes, maybe sometimes we're a wee bit boring, but by God we get the job done, and that's why I think you fit in here.
David Stephens: I'm boring?
Lumsden: You get the job done.
- The "socially inept and unable to think outside the box" trope was heavily invoked on poor Louis in Ghostbusters. He even threw a party at his apartment and invited only business contacts because he could write the chips and dip off as a business expense and was loudly explaining this to his guests as a sound tactic.
- Subverted in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, when a group of insurance accountants overthrow their masters and turn to piracy. Sadly, its the funniest part of the whole film.
- The Parole Officer is built around the protagonist trying to clear his name after he sees "a man strangle a human being - well, an accountant, anyway."
Literature[edit | hide]
- Dave Barry's Claw Your Way to the Top has a chapter called "How Finance Works." It begins with this warning:
This stuff is deadly dull, as is illustrated by accountants. You never hear people say: "Let's have some fun tonight! Let's go find some accountants!" So unless you have no choice, you should skip this chapter. I myself am going to require powerful illegal stimulants to write it.
- In the Harry Potter books, the Weasleys have a cousin that they refuse to speak of, and it's difficult to tell whether it's because he's a squib, or because he's an accountant.
- Monty Python has quite a few sketches including panicky, mousy chartered accountants
- Evan from Royal Pains is portrayed in lacking common sense, goofy, and annoying, and in fact loses all of Hank Med's money at one point. But he's still a good accountant.
- Ted from Queer as Folk. He is the most boring and uptight of the main characters, and also happens to be the oldest, if only by a few years. He is clearly unhappy, and tries out other jobs for a while (and also slipping into drug addiction, coming seriously close to destroying his whole life), before Brian asks him to come work for his new company, and after that he seems happy being Brian's accountant/personal advisor... thing.
Reputed for being rude, nasty, low life thugs who get their kicks out of bullying people who are suffering hard times. Tax Collectors belong together with them until enforcement became separate function, after which they turn into a particularly vile breed of the Soulless Accountant.
Literature[edit | hide]
- The Bible. Matthew aka Levi was a tax collector until redeemed by Jesus. Generally, they are viewed as something suitable for use as a low baseline in parables and comparisons: “Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”, and “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the harlots will get into the kingdom of heaven before you.” and so on. Count the mentions..
- Biblical (more specifically, New Testament-era) tax collectors were not the bureaucrats known in the Western world today. Like many Empires the Romans used tax-farmers -- essentially freelancers who bought the right to be a shake-down artist for a given district at auction. (A similar practice still exists today, in those municipalities that auction off tax liens to private individuals who then get the right to pursue the debt they bought.) These would often brutalize the peasantry (by leaning extra hard) and cheat their employer (by embezzling). In other words it did not just mean "someone with the dirty job of funding public services". Often it meant (in a pretty straightforward sense) a collaborator with the occupying forces, and often outright thief. It is notable that when tax collectors came to John the Baptist they were commanded to "take no more than what they had been ordered to" -- implying of course that tax collectors regularly took more, and everyone knew it.
- It's worse than that. The tax collectors in the Biblical gospels represented a régime which was deliberately overtaxing citizens of occupied countries so that Roman citizens in Rome could live tax-free. Much like any other occupying force in wartime, they were despised.
- An aversion is the Murakami short story "Super-Frog Saves Tokyo," where the main character is a debt collector, who is an average salaryman, and is a total Badass because he's so very calm. Also, he helps the titular Super-Frog save Tokyo.
- House of Lies is about a group of consultants with only one goal in mind when they work with clients: convince the clients that they absolutely need them, no matter the cost.
- Higgins in both the original Magnum, P.I. and its 2018 reboot is an estate manager. They share British Stuffiness (it is more noticeable in the old Higgins). But they are each a benevolent boss and when they get angry they are usually quite justified (Robin's Nest has a lot of artifacts on it as well as well-tended gardens and a beachfront that is a fine ecological trove). Higgins also often turns out to be heroic on several occasions (the reboot is emphasizing this more as it is using a younger-and feminine-one).
- Some cases Magnum takes are for local business people who are a diverse lot. Some of them do indeed turn out to be criminals but there is no particular reason for them to.
When you need a villain, look no further. All drug dealers are scum who cruise the playgrounds looking for kids (the younger the better) to sell dope to. If you need a Big Bad, just make him the leader of the gang. Of course, most of the time he isn't an American, so you get to get two for one here.
- Also, since the eighties or nineties at least, American drug dealers are depicted as capable of terrifying, sociopathic violence, often for little cause. Well, the blacks and Latinos anyway—which is to say (in the voice of popular media), every last one of them.
- Super zigzags this trope. The first thing the main character does once he becomes a Superhero is find some drug dealers and bash their heads with a wrench. At first, the media portrays him as a psychopath that's brutally assaulting people. Later in the movie, the fact that the people he attacked were criminals surfaces, and the media and the public start to see him as a force for justice.
- The protagonists of Burn Notice always try to justify the things they do to people by explaining that they're criminals. Often they're talking about murderers and human traffickers, but sometimes it's just drug dealers.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Kill a drug dealer - get $2000.
- Of course, the Grove Street OGs (the gang that CJ, the protagonist, is a part of) are vehemently against the use of hard drugs (though marijuana is apparently okay). Compared to the other gangs in the city (besides the Varrios Los Aztecas), the Grove Street families are Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters.
Whether they're strippers, adult models, porn actors, or sex workers, these women are treated as victims of circumstance at best and amoral succubi at worst. Often, middle ground is found by treating them like brainless twits or easy prey for murderers. And when they are victimized, there is always a slight (or not-so-slight) undercurrent of them "deserving" their fate, being less innocent than a "more wholesome" woman.
- The "Victim of Circumstance" version is subverted in Independence Day; Jasmine, though technically a Single Mom Stripper, is clearly intelligent, a good mother, in a committed relationship with a decorated Marine officer whom she eventually marries, and not ashamed in the least of her profession. She chats about it casually with the First Lady, for crying out loud.
- the Daily Mail's Richard Littlejohn criticised reporters covering the 2006 murders of five "women who worked as prostitutes" for not simply referring to them as "prostitutes." In one of his articles he argued that the victims were being given undeserved sympathy, and failed to see that other writers were simply trying to afford the victims a little dignity and avoid upsetting their families; some of the victims were teenagers. This was later pointed out to Littlejohn by Stewart Lee in a Crowning Moment of Comedy Awesome.
- Tales From The Boobie Bar pretty much shows that if you work as a stripper because you enjoy it, it gives good pay, and makes you feel proud of your body, prepare to spend a lot of time giving snarky comebacks to people who think you're just a stupid crack whore.
Depending on the genre, any mental health professional in media will either be a sex-obsessed Cloudcuckoolander with an Oedipus Complex, or the nay-sayer who gets The Cassandra committed to the Bedlam House. Not to mention that all the times they would be truly needed, they don't exist at all. And of course, there's no difference at all between psychology and psychiatry. Often, the only psychiatry depicted will be electroshock therapy.
- Oh, psychotherapy is a lot more sinister than that. After all, they're messing with your mind, maaan! The fact that a visit to Bedlam House invariably reduces the perfectly sane to gibbering catatonia goes to show how terrifyingly evil shrinks are.
- And of course, you'll rarely see any that subscribe to the biological, cognitive or behavioral models of psychopathology.
- Even sympathetic psychiatric workers will be portrayed as plagued by personal problems they can't use their skills to help.
- A certain group, referred to on this wiki as the Church of Happyology, considers psychiatrists to be their mortal enemy (perhaps because if there's one thing a meme can't stand, it's competition). Consequently, they spend an inordinate effort attempting to discredit this profession. Some of the anti-psychiatry ideas floating around out there may have originated with this Church.
- Not to mention the cliche where people with mental illness are portrayed as mildly eccentric goofballs who just need a person to listen to them and offer a kind word and helping hand rather than professional care or medication. This subtly implies that psychiatrists and psychologists do not listen and never, ever offer a kind word or helping hand. It also implies mental illness is not really a disease but a personality trait, which is a rather dangerous implication.
Loan Sharks[edit | hide]
Pretty much the same deal as the Evil Debt Collector, except these guys don't give a damn about any laws, much less the FDCPA or other debt-collection laws in their general area. They will stop at nothing to shake you down for what they think they're owed, and they're not above some pretty heinous tactics, such as kidnapping or worse.
Inevitably corrupt, often an Obstructive Bureaucrat and puts their reelection ahead of everything else. The stereotypical politician is willing to promise voters the moon, and then give them the shaft as soon as the election is over. The word "politician" even used to be an epithet!
- See also Acceptable Political Targets.
Let's face it, authors don't particularly like being criticized—and chances are, if you enjoy the work in which they are portrayed, you'll probably dislike its critics too.
Whenever something is potholed on Executive Meddling, there is a high chance that it's said in a bad way: people obsessed with Ratings and cost over the real quality of a show, who think Viewers are Morons, Macekre and Bowdlerise imported Anime, etc. The Protection From Editors page gives them some vindication.
No one is going to care if a camp guard in a Holocaust film dies, or a Gulag guard, or a minion in a Khmer Rouge-occupied police station. Doctors in said facilities are portrayed largely as Evilutionary Biologists.
In general: drinking, womanising troublemakers at best, rapists, pillagers and casual murderers at worst. Both can show up even in ostensibly sympathetic works.
- Vietnam Veterans: The traumatic flashbacks of said group are quite often played for laughs. Try depicting the same thing occurring to soldiers returning from the war in Iraq under the context of comedy and see what kind of response you'll get.
- Generally, the officers rather than the enlisted men or draftees are the true demons here. Draftees get the most sympathetic portrayals: Punch Clock Villain at worst, but more often than not simply hapless dupes.
- Drill Sergeants are usually treated as less than human machines made simply for demeaning and putting the trainees through hell. While this face is mostly true, they'll never push a soldier to the point of causing them life-threatening difficulties. And if one of their squad is feeling depressed and/or suicidal or just received heartbreaking news (such as a death in the family), they'll show them all the moral support they can muster.
Bankers have always generally been portrayed as greedy and amoral, believing they can always get their way if they throw enough money at the problem (and it will rarely be their money they're throwing). They obviously overlap with Accountants and Loan Sharks. The recent financial crisis has done little to improve their popularity. Typically, this mostly applies to higher-ups in the banking industry, while the local teller attending the slow-moving cue is generally closer to Service Sector Stereotypes.
- However, beware of running afoul of Once-Acceptable Targets, given the strong associations banking conspiracies have with anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe.
- In American Media they tend to be aged white Fat Bastards or Corrupt Hicks.
- This seems to have recently extended to anyone working in the financial sector, with everyone from trading software developers to stockbrokers to commodities traders apparently responsible for the housing market collapse and bailout from 2007 onwards.
- It has taken on a new lease of life in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis a.k.a. the Great Recession, starting from around 2007. Since then it's shifted up a gear with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Granted, it's not often to their face (you try telling the 7'1", 300-lb guy who makes a living throwing people around an arena what you think of him), but it tends to often invoke Dumb Muscle tropes quite a bit. Especially from fans.
Break the law. Any law. It doesn't matter. Once you are arrested, expect No Sympathy. People will be happy to laugh at the prospect of your facing Prison Rape. Expect any complaints about cruel and inhuman punishment and sadistic prison staff to be ignored or just acknowledged with a "Well, maybe they shouldn't have broken the law". The Hanging Judge is sure that if you were arrested, then you are guilty. So are most people.
- On rare occasion this is subverted, as in the prison drama Oz, in which even sociopathic killers, organized crime lords and Neo-Nazis are fully developed, sympathetic characters.
- Take any profession from this list. (With the noted exception of women in the sex industry.) If a legitimate profession, add a story of blatant corruption or abuse of power that pushes it beyond the bounds of legality. Mix in an unusual hobby/sexual kink/lifestyle quirk. Season to taste with a dash of puppy kicking. Result? A typical victim of Agent 47.
At least in the United States, anybody who works in McDonald's or Burger King, or Wendy's, or some other fast-food chain is destined to be illiterate, unintelligent, and/or a stoner. "Flipping burgers at McDonald's for minimum wage" is used as a cautionary tale of what might happen if one doesn't at least finish high-school. Also, it is frowned upon to date someone who holds this type of job.
- This one's sort of weird, as threatening people with that kind of work implies at least a tacit acknowledgment that it's miserable and, well, hard; and yet simultaneously it's understood (by those who haven't needed to do it, full time, for a living) to not really count as work at all.
- Of course it's work. Just not work that you need special qualifications or talent for it. as in, "every fool can do it".
- The unimportance of special skills doesn't mean it isn't difficult as well as grueling; people who haven't relied on such work for a living often imagine that juggling all the orders during a rush, on top of other tasks, is somehow not mentally taxing (as is a lot of "unskilled" labor). So if, for instance, a customer gets a wrong order (inevitable, given how these places are expected to run), she or he feels completely justified in berating those responsible as subnormal etc., because "any idiot" could've gotten it right. Of course the truth is, any idiot couldn't have gotten it right, because working in any industrial kitchen, even the one at Burger King, requires stamina, the ability to multitask, the ability to concentrate while multitasking in a loud and chaotic environment. Most of the people who say such things probably couldn't last one day as a "burger flipper" if they had to actually do the job.
- This one overlaps almost entirely with Acceptable Inevitable Targets, as many teenagers and students work in food service as a part-time job.
- The assumption that fast food workers are automatically stupid, stoners, trashy, etc. is especially unfair in an economy when you have former high-powered professionals or people who worked a "real" job for decades flipping burgers because that's the only work available in a region with an obscenely high unemployment rate.
- In Jonathan Larson's autobiographical musical "Tick, Tick, Boom!" there's a song where Jon remembers the people who, over the years, have sneered "This is why you're just a waiter," at him after he messes up their order. This to a man whose first completed musical won a Pulitzer Prize, whose very name invokes What Could Have Been in the musical theater community.
To a lesser extent than Fast-Food Chain Workers, but depending on the type of retail, they are either respectable people or are illiterate illegal immigrants and mentally disabled who'll never get anywhere in life. Despite how many people in such retail stores are actually working their way through college.
- It also depends on the type of retail again. Someone working at Wal-Mart is much more likely to be made fun of offensively than someone who works in a department store like Macy's.
- To many, Managers of Retail Stores and fast food chains. Horror stories of managers and bosses exploiting people such as forcing people to clock out, then clock back in for another consecutive shift without getting a break or forcing others to come in on their one day off to cover for an absentee worker, sexually extorting employees via threats of dismissal or (for illegals) deportation, or firing good workers to avoid having to pay for benefits abound, making this somewhat justified...even if a bit cruel since not every manager or boss is like that.
- On the flip side, anyone who has worked one these jobs is bound to have at least a couple stories with Retail or Fast Food Customers as Acceptable Targets. (You wouldn't believe the ways you can misinterpret a buy-one, get-one-half-off sign...)
- Convenience Store Clerks usually end up getting the worst sides of both general retail and fast-food (Low skilled job, idiots or no motivation) as well as frequently dealing with people in a rush, however- it's common that they don't have the luxury of passing the customer off on a manager, nor the authority to bend/break rules in the customer's favor - as they're usually the only one there. If that convenience store is also a filling station (especially in the U.S.) then they also become the sole human face for the entire oil industry, thus having the pleasure of dealing with every customer that has an axe to grind over the cost of fuel.
- Averted with Michael from Queer as Folk. He is kind of shy and awkward at times, but otherwise very nice, cute and generally likeable. Of course, that doesn't stop Brian from making fun of his comic book addiction.
- Partially averted with Stuart from The Big Bang Theory. He's thin, relatively well-groomed, and sufficiently attractive to score a date with Penny. He is, on the other hand, a broke, depressed loser.
As discussed at the trope entry, Monster Clown is about the only clown portrayal that exists in fiction these days, aside from the occasional case of the clown who Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight, which isn't much better. While the basis for Real Life mime dislike is their being annoying, clowns have the baggage of more ostentatious appearances and criminals (i.e., murderers, pedophiles) like John Wayne Gacy. On top of this, they're not seen as particularly talented performers even in non-evil portrayals (i.e., the obnoxious birthday party clown). The fact that circus, the medium in which most of the best and often non-stereotypical Real Life clowns work, is not as popular as it once was doesn't help.
Nobody likes a mime. Writers are no exception. They, however, have a power that other law-abiding citizens do not: to inflict untold horrors and revenges upon those who would pretend to be trapped in an invisible box, walk against the wind or otherwise mutely annoy countless passers-by (within the realm of fiction, of course). No wonder there's a trope called Everyone Hates Mimes.
Literature[edit | hide]
- Discworld Lord Vetinari, Magnificent Bastard par excellance, the completely ruthless ruler of Ankh-Morpork, only has two emotional anchors to the world: Love for a small terrier named Wuffles, and a deep hatred of mimes. Vetinari lets anyone who doesn't interfere with the smooth operation of the city go about his/her business in peace, and has offered both the Thieves and Assassins to go legit, but push your hands against an invisible box and you will spend the rest of your life chained upside-down to a dungeon wall.
- With the phrase "learn the words" on the wall in front of them.
- Pretty much averted by Pushing Daisies when the team run into a mime. He initially attempts to describe his own murder through pure mime, but is told not to, quickly complies, and isn't portrayed as very annoying at all. In fact, Chuck asks "can you do trapped in a glass box, because I love that."
- Oddly enough, the founding father of modern mime, Marcel Marceau, was beloved the world over - despite being French and despite inventing (or at least codifying) most of the mime techniques (including those mentioned above) that have been endlessly Flanderized and mocked in the popular media. The fact that he was a war hero (helping a great many Jews, including himself, escape from Nazi-occupied France) might have a little to do with his positive portrayal, although one suspects that he also benefited from becoming popular (he first started performing widely in the mid-1950s) long, long before the streets of major world cities became inundated with silent, white-faced buffoons. These many inept imitators (who at certain points in recent history have almost seemed to be ubiquitous) have probably had much to do with cheapening the image of mime.
- This became apparent after Marcel Marceau's death. One team reporting the news mentioned his death in a joking manner. The next day on The View, Whoopi Goldberg completely shredded the two of them. She mentioned that Marcel had a large impact on her acting (Star-Derailing Role aside, she is still an Oscar winner) that performing anything completely in pantomime is incredibly difficult, and that they should be ashamed of themselves.
Suits of all kinds can fit here, but the usual ones are working in a morally dubious industry (oil companies, cigarette companies, etc.). At best they're portrayed as completely morally bankrupt.
Mainly of the screen-painting or sculpting kind, are usually viewed by people as spaced-out loons, obnoxious egomaniacs or lazy people who can't get better jobs for a living, despite most of these (especially sculptors) give months of their hard work into a single picture.
Usually portrayed as lazy, heartless, stupid, and/or tied up by bureaucratic red tape (causing them to either ignore obvious problems or to insist on enforcing rules in petty and counterproductive ways). On many TV shows and movies, they are usually played by emotionally cold Black women who are plagued by a crappy childhood or a failed relationship. If a black woman is not available, the social worker from the Department of Child Disservices is played by well-meaning but overworked and overwhelmed, frumpy looking white guys.
- The hospital social worker on HawthoRNe. She's an overweight, frumpily dressed White woman (as compared to the hot looking nurses) who can't seem to do anything right or doesn't care enough about people to help. Then of course the title character (played by Jada Pinkett Smith) comes in and makes everything better.
- Reba featured an especially loud, overweight black woman who publicly embarrassed her when she tried to stop them from giving her family food stamps.
The standard joke being that no one who became a freakin' guidance counselor has any business helping young people decide what to do with their lives.
Despite them being fairly important in preventing and treating certain types of cancer, few people will see past "a guy who sticks his fingers up people's asses for a living."
- In some ways, proctologists are the new dentists.
- Bowser & Blue have a comedy song that pokes gentle fun at the field. "We praise the colorectal surgeon, misunderstood and much maligned, slaving away in the heart of darkness, working where the Sun don't shine."
Contractors are often portrayed as lazy stick-in-the-muds who charge exorbitant amounts of money for work that is shoddy at best.
At best, they're seen as restless and wanting more out of life. At worst, they're seen as vapid, mindless pod people or useless lazy paper-pushers. Occasionally the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype is thrown in there for pink collar workers. It rarely occurs to anyone that people work those jobs because they genuinely enjoy them.
Despite being the reason for any profession's continuation, and blamed for everything involving students (Hello, Parents!). Don't even start with the jokes involving sex or pedophilia. Despite Truth in Television and Real Life aspects, not all teachers enjoy, want, or desire extracurricular activities with their students, even if they are in the Hot for Teacher or Hot Librarian category. Other insults include becoming a teacher "for the great holidays" and nothing else, digs about the wages (most common in US based shows), and running the gamut from alcoholic to depressive to passive-aggressive to pleasant but useless. The reasoning behind teachers as acceptable targets could probably be put down to familiarity - almost everyone in countries where education is mandatory has met a teacher at some point. Not many of us can claim that a marine biologist was nasty to us, but most people had a teacher that they didn't like.
- See also Sadist Teacher, for the teachers who use their positions to abuse students.
- One popular insult aimed at teachers is "those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Teachers of younger children get this particularly badly with comedians often cracking jokes such as "all you have to do is make stuff out of pasta". Tip: before making this comment, try teaching someone who doesn't know how to hold a pencil how to write. The fact that high school teachers are normally very well versed in their chosen field is normally dismissed, leading to characters who became teachers because "they weren't good at anything else".
- Once someone is identified as a piano teacher, you know what will happen.
- There also is the stereotype of drama, music or other fine arts teachers as being washed up performers who can't get work anywhere else (see The Steve Harvey Show). This can be Truth in Television. It may be easier to keep a job as a teacher (at least until recently) than to keep a job as an actor or artist.
Doesn't matter what religious order, or whatever good they might do in the community - as far as a lot of the population is concerned, the Pedophile Priest stereotype is invoked. In the cases where it isn't invoked, they're portrayed as rich aristocrat-types who are somewhat backward, despite as a rule having graduate degrees and many priests making somewhat less than teachers (there's a lot of clergy who have had to rely on charity to survive old age).
- Even older than the Pedophile Priest stereotype is the stereotype of the priest as a willful con artist, someone who manipulates people's fears and superstitions in order to live without working. Voltaire loved this one: "The first priest was the first rogue who met the first fool."
Truth in Television - HR are responsible for vetting job applications, usually without any knowledge of what skills are needed to do that job. So they tend to be responsible for stopping you from getting a job you could do in your sleep, hiring obvious morons, or firing the best worker in the department for some imaginary infraction. Their actual background is in industrial relations, not in actual manufacture of whatever it is the company employing them is supposed to make.
Maybe it's because Writers Cannot Do Math or failed physics, but the stereotypical image of skinny men in elbow-length dress shirts, wearing thick-rimmed glasses and playing with a slide rule (think NASA engineers in the 60s-70s) seems to stick in people's minds. There are exceptions to this / the image is potentially being reversed, however.
While they tend to receive a generally positive portrayal, they are one of the first stops when choosing to a pretentious, artsy professional; the opposite of the stereotypical engineer, in essence.
- American architects have brought some of this on themselves, by lobbying and self-regulating for decades to put as much legal responsibility as possible on their consulting engineers. Within the construction industry they definitely have the reputation as artsy can't-do-math types. Things are somewhat better in Europe, where architects are more likely to have some extensive structural engineering knowledge.
- The blog Clients From Hell collects true stories submitted by graphic designers. Most of the hellish clients try to get out of paying by claiming they're not doing "real work". "You do this for fun, right?" seems to be a depressingly familiar phrase among them.
Just when you thought you could escape this trope, they are lazy young people wasting their parents' and taxpayers' money, contributing nothing to society. Or 'welfare queens', though the latter is strongly associated with racist stereotypes.
They are often evil, quixotic or clueless. They will more often than not lack basic social skills and common sense; the latter usually so the book-dumb hero can show them how intelligence isn't all about "book learnin'".
- There's a joke that goes like this: A biologist is a chemist who can't do math, and a chemist is a 3rd-rate physicist.
- Marine biologists often find themselves the butt of jokes involving bestiality with fish, dolphins, seals, squid, or really Anything That Moves in the ocean. (In reality, of course, most (if not all) of them just want to study sea life, not have sex with it!)
- Computer scientists have it bad as well, by virtue of computers being a stereotypical Nerd interest since they first entered the public eye. Computer scientists (in the rare event they are actually called that) are either reclusive Basement Dwellers, Techno Babble-spouting academics, or trapped in dead-end tech support jobs... when they're not busy starting World War III, War Games style.
In most people's eyes, cops only exist to give you traffic tickets or to take you to jail. If you haven't actually done anything wrong, they'll find a reason to do one of those things, and due to several infamous incidents they're seen as having Hair Trigger Tempers, especially when it comes to dealing with members of minority groups. When they aren't, they're busy scarfing down donuts. That or they represent the threat of a potential future that few would like and are the clenched right fist of the Man.
Always shown as living by Screw the Rules, I Have Money, also hated for having nearly every aspect of their life. Overlaps with the Rich stereotype in Acceptable Lifestyle Targets. Often shown as being a complete doofus subject to Manipulative Editing and being targeted by "Sleazy Tabloids". (examples: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Jade Goody, at least before she died of cancer)
- Celebrities are often hated for their tendency to choke news networks upon deaths. Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson, for example, developed hatedoms merely because people were so sick of turning on the TV and finding nothing but more news on their death or trial.
- And then there are the actors/actresses that aren't famous. When they aren't portrayed like wanna-be celebrities Waiting for a Break, they're usually shown as starving artists and weirdos that can break into random monologue at any moment.
- In Renaissance Times, acting, at worst, was a step or two above prostitution.
Journalists (aka, Newshounds)[edit | hide]
Shown as always getting in the way of things. Also shown as being bought easily to slant the news, and writing biased news that covers up the truth. Any gossip journalism gets this double, and quintuple for any tabloid or magazine journalist. Add in some inaccuracies and you'll get loads of Face Palming.
- e-Journalists (ie, bloggers and people who post stories on the internet) are often called "slackers". Yeah, anyone can have a blog, except not everyone's as willing to devote as much time to their blog as professionals do. (ie, most bloggers won't interview people, they won't go out of their way to do the research whereas most blogs about other gossip is a mere response or chain-linking)
- Since the 2011 News International "phone hacking" scandal broke, revealing evidence of widespread unethical activity on the part of certain areas of the tabloid press—including hacking people's phone messages, in too many cases for no other reason than to find tawdry gossip (although one example involved the case of a missing teenager who's phone was hacked and messages deleted to try and prompt more information, giving her family reason to hope that she was still alive which turned out to be cruelly unfounded) and bribing members of the police to look the other way—the general reputation of journalists and tabloid journalists especially has sunk to new lows.
- Let's not forget that in the US, most established journalists are viewed as little more than glorified stenographers
- For bonus verification points, "Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?"
- In Community, Annie has stated her reason for being on the school newspaper is to mitigate the fallout to a previous drug addiction.
Annie: No one will think about my time in rehab if they think I'm a writer!
They practice one of the softest sciences and have the potential to be influential on a national scale, making scientists of every other discipline hate them. At the same time non-professionals don't like them because economics is so tightly entwined with the very polarizing subject of politics.
- It doesn't help their image that most of the field of economics is (perhaps rightly) seen as largely guesswork.
- Even economists themselves acknowledge this negative view of their profession, calling their field of study "the dismal science". For extra deprecation, some even say that calling economics a "dismal science" is only half-right.
Often portrayed as unintelligent, crude, and untrustworthy; occasionally, perverts and/or womanizers. When they're not perverts, they only have paid sex, having a family or not.
- Old joke among advertising execs: "Don't tell my mother I work in advertising, she thinks I play the piano in a brothel."
Librarians[edit | hide]
Pretty much an Always Female subset of the Sadist Teacher, with the added benefit of never actually helping or teaching anyone. Aside from looks of scorn, most will only get a trademark "SHHHHHHHHHH!" Outside their realm of power, they're depicted as lonely, bitter, anal-aggressive spinsters. However, as a contrast, there is the Hot Librarian.
- It's a Wonderful Life: She's just about to close up the library!!! Oh yes, definitely the worst fate that could befall anyone.
- Totally averted in Wishbone where the main (human) character's mother and neighbor are librarians and are generally decent people. The neighbor tends to be the closer to playing this straight, but she's just as helpful as the mother. This is of course expected for a series designed to get children to read more books.
- And in Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the Librarian at Sunnydale High School, Rupert Giles, is a father figure, oracle and Watcher to the entire group of Scoobies, not just our eponymous heroine.
Don't get off much better. Often the chain-smoking epitome of Beauty Is Bad, Lean and Mean, or the French Jerk (even though she's frequently Russian). The requisite dainty figure and young retirement age also seems to imply that even the most serious performer is just the plaything of fetishistic men.
- In Black Swan, Nina, a ballet dancer, is obsessive and repressed, and eats very little to keep a slim figure. The only other dancers focused on are Lily, who might be trying to steal Nina's role, Beth, whose early retirement left her bitter, and Veronica, who is only a minor character but is very bitchy. Lily smokes as well.
- In one Simpsons episode, Lisa joins a ballet club, and discovers all the dancers smoke to keep slender and de-stress from the intensity of ballet.
- An even earlier episode was about Bart studying ballet because all of the other extracurricular activities were taken, and the bullying and abuse he took for taking such a "sissy" activity.
Most portrayals of physicians are fairly positive; it's hard to get down on an occupation whose sole raison d'etre is healing the sick and alleviating suffering. However, when physicians go wrong, they go terribly wrong. Given the gravitas of the Hippocratic Oath, there's intense drama to be played out when a physician chooses to go against his code. It's still acceptable to portray a doctor as a complete quack, especially in a comedy. In dramatic works, expect a cold sociopath who sees patients as dollars or a collection of symptoms whose suffering is irrelevant. Finally, a growing minority in the West have embraced unproven, unscientific alternative healing practices. Proponents rarely distinguish between criticism of the health care industry, criticism of pharmaceutical companies, criticism of health care protocols and regulation, ad hominem attacks on medical practitioners, and criticism of the principles of science-based medicine (peer review, controlled studies, etc). Each is a completely different topic.
- On a vaugely-related note, practitioners of alternative health care will often be portrayed as Granola Girl ditzes or knowingly malign peddlers of All-Natural Snake Oil in works which embrace Enlightenment on the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment conflict.
- Another topic is the illegal organ trade.
- Physicians who treat life-or-death cases are likely to be sued for malpractice when they fail to help a patient, even if there's nothing that could have been done. This means that they need extensive malpractice insurance, which invites accusations that they are incompetent or casual murderers. After all, why would a doctor insure himself against malpractice if he didn't plan on committing some?
- What's the difference between a doctor and a lawyer? A lawyer will rob you; a doctor will rob you and kill you.
People who get their living buying and selling things. This is something of an obsolete one from the days of widespread illiteracy and aristocratic rule. They are always greedy for money. Merchants supposedly get money without making anything (by taking advantage of time and space they add abstract value rather then making visible addition to their product). They tend to be foreigners and thus deserve suspicion, or they deal with foreigners, or they come from a scattered ethnicity living in several nations. Their money makes them powerful enough to compete with nobles. And of course all merchants are supposedly without exception loan sharks. This prejudice is naturally more common in countries that are less familiar with business.
- Isaac of York in Ivanhoe is a zig-zag. He almost fits the stereotype of the "greedy Jew" close enough to be written by an anti-semite. But as we explore his character more, and pity his persecutions and admire his love for his daughter he becomes a more complex character. His avarice is simply a lovable flaw, and is to some degree a recognition that his wealth is a protection in a hard world.