The public's perception of security guards is skewed because of movies like Paul Blart Mall: Cop and Night At The Museum. This is an issue because security officers play a much larger and more important role in the public's safety then is reflected. What the public does not take away from these movies is that security guards and mall cops are central to public safety. They screen for and take action against crimes including terrorism, theft, robbery, violence and weapons. They protect the public on a daily basis yet they are portrayed to the public as extraneous.
In many movies security guards are illustrated as lazy, uneducated, disrespected, incomplete, having no real authority. The same characteristics are to be found in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Many movies picture security guards carelessly falling asleep on the job while various crimes like bank robberies occur, or in Paul Blarts case being too preoccupied playing an epic game of Guitar Hero. Film culture can often represent security guards as uneducated. In Paul Blart: Mall Cop there is a scene where Veck is shadowing Blart on his first day, Blart asks him what it was that made him want to pursue security and Veck responds, "I never finished high school this is all I could get" (Paul Blart: Mall Cop). These "comical" comments deduct prestige from the private security industry. Security officers are highly trained and certified on a wide range of situations and protocols. Following, Blart expresses that he has been working towards becoming a state trooper. In the opening scene we learned that Blart had failed his physical fitness training with the New Jersey State Police Academy because his hypoglycemia caused him to collapse and fall asleep inches before the finish line. This supports the popular cultural narrative that security guards are out of shape and incapable of performing adequately in the field as police officers, state troopers, SWAT commanders, etc.
Paul Blart is used as a reinforcement of society's perception that security guards and mall cops serve no real purpose. In the beginning of the movie, Blart is pictured turning on his segways siren in an attempt to pull over an elderly man that is speeding down the mall in an electric wheelchair. The scene satirically compares him to a police officer to reiterate his lack of recognized authority. Blart tells the man he was driving wrecklessly and will be issued a citation, the elderly man ignores Blart and continues to drive away. In this scene his character is mocked for taking his "trivial" security guard position too seriously. In a previous scene including Veck, Blart explains, "In the event that you approach an assailant… you're going to pull up, left hip forward, placing your right hand on your away hip thus giving the illusion that you have a gun, which of course we both know, you dont" (Paul Blart: Mall Cop). This is a segway into his famous idea that their voices and minds are the greatest and only weapons. This scence is important to acknowledge because it plays a part in teaching society that "rent-a-cop" security gaurds like mall cops offer the public no protection in the event of a crisis.
It is quite possible that many of these negative stereotypes of security guards (and mall cops) stem from earlier years where the public saw no need for mall cops and building security guards. Paul Blart: Mall Cop might have been more accurate 50 years ago but today it is damaging. We live in a post 9/11 world, where mass shootings and acts of terrorism are prevalent. Security guards roles have evolved significantly over time and our movies should reflect these changes so that the public has a more realistic view of private security. In the wise words of Paul Blart, "safety never takes a holiday!" (Paul Blart: Mall Cop).