If you've seen a Disaster Movie
or Monster Movie, you've seen this trope. There's an oncoming disaster and The Hero
is trying to get everyone to see the Cassandra Truth
. Problem is that there's this one Suit With Vested Interests in something that's going to suffer if the disaster comes about. He'll argue against people believing the hero or an Ignored Expert
, he'll try to convince people that they are safe with his
product and he'll try to stop word from getting further so that the stock prices don't sink all the while the boat does.
The vested interest varies. He could be the owner of the project that is actively causing the disaster or whose destruction is the disaster. On the other hand, it could just be that they would lose a lot of money from the Attack of the Town Festival
. In fact, in the Attack of the Town Festival, expect this role to be played by the mayor. Finally, the best way to really up their villainy and corruption is for them to actually try to profit
off the disaster when faced with the truth, with the disaster itself becoming the vested interest.
Similarly, his portrayal and motivation varies. He could be an outright Corrupt Corporate Executive
who believes the disaster and just doesn't care or, and it tends to be this way in the better works, he is simply so emotionally invested in what he has that he can't bring himself to face the truth. The latter way tends to resonate better and appear more realistic to audiences, as well as having a natural connection to the common theme in disaster movies of Mankind vs. His Folly.
The age can be either old set-in-his-ways businessman or young, up-and-coming-with-a-lot-to-prove, charming guy. Gender nearly always male
due to the age of these movies, the characters, the nature of the flaw and the Love Interest
occasionally starting off as his and then changing over to the hero. By the way, the old guy vs. young buck choice tends to work as a foil to the hero.
He'll often be the Doomed Contrarian
and get finally called out with "What an Idiot
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Films — Animated
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:
- Flint accidentally creates a machine that makes food fall from the sky, and the mayor immediately latches onto it as a way to save the failing town. After a month, the food that falls starts to get bigger, which Flint realizes is due to its molecular structure overmutating. He's considering shutting down the machine, but the mayor talks him out of it, since it's one day before the town's grand re-opening.
- The mayor is slightly more proactive than most in causing the disaster - Flint returns to his laboratory to find that the now-gigantic mayor has somehow gotten in there first and has programmed the device to produce a "Vegas-style all-you-can-eat buffet". Cue Food-A-Geddon...
- From the film adaptation of Horton Hears a Who!, part of the reason that the council rejects the mayor's warnings of Whoville's imminent danger is the upcoming Whocentennial celebration.
- The Mayor in Osmosis Jones. Wants to get reelected, and hopes to stay popular by going to a Bufallo Wing Festival, instead of keeping Frank in bed (to fight off his sickness). He also opposes changing to a healthier lifestyle in general.
Films — Live-Action
- Burke in Aliens puts a higher value on getting a sample of the creature than he does on the crew. As does Weyland-Yutani as a whole.
- Selfridge in Avatar: The only thing worse than a PR disaster is a lack of dividends for stockholders.
- Dantes Peak actually has this trope invoked — the initial reaction of the town council was to take the threat quite seriously.
- Jaws has the mayor, who's more of a Politician with Vested Interests, but with a focus on all of the town's businesses and how they'll suffer if everybody avoid the place due to a shark panic on the Fourth of July. In the movie, the portrayal is of a man who just can't grasp the seriousness of the situation until a shark attack finally occurs in broad daylight while his grandchildren are at the beach. In the book, however, he is just a puppet of the local Mafia, who profit from the town's businesses and just don't care whether there is a shark or not.
- The Lady Vanishes has two elegantly dressed men who deny seeing any evidence because they don't want to miss a cricket match.
- Shark Attack 3: Megalodon has two for good measure. There's a holiday resort owner who doesn't want the beaches closed but at least wants the problem solved. Then there is an electricity company owner whose wires are attracting the shark and who has a big wire junction opening coming up to which he will take a boat full of corporate guests. He knew there was a problem and still doesn't care and goes ahead with the launch of the magical shark attractors and boat ride. Then when ship hits the fin, he knocks somebody else out to use his jetski to escape before being Hoist by His Own Petard and driving right into the shark's mouth.
- When Time Ran Out, a volcano disaster movie by the same director as The Towering Inferno, has a hotel resort on a Pacific island being jealously guarded by a guy whose portrayal starts getting worse starting with some daddy issues, through hiding the evidence, ending with his fiancée leaving after she finds out he used her to get to her rich godfather, right up to locking himself in his hotel in hope of avoiding a river of lava.
- Breckinridge 'Breck' Scott, the Corrupt Corporate Executive from World War Z. He and his company produces Phalanx, a supposed cure for Solanum which, quite obviously, doesn't work. He even gloats about how much people knows that Phalanx is a sham, yet still buys it.
- The sheriff acts the role of the mayor in Jaws for the same reason in the Sluggy Freelance arc "Kitten". Parodied when the doctor trying to send out warnings points out that the 'tourist industry' that the sheriff doesn't want disrupted consists of a couple cabins that the town rents out to vacationing college kids and that she could cover the town's losses out of her own pocket.
- The Parable of the Broken Window was created by the French libertarian economist Frederic Bastiat, to explain why destroying things ended up being false economy.
- In more recent years, a similar concept known as the 'Shock Doctrine' or 'disaster capitalism' was coined by alter-globalist writer Naomi Klein.