Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Space Ace: I think it's slightly unfair to judge old societies by our own values. Certainly the people that set up vast trade-empires to all corners of the world weren't as racist as this entry implies. Sure, they weren't squeeky clean and a lot of them wanted to make Christians out of everyone, but they weren't nazi's.

I, for one, recall once reading an account of Dutch traders making landfall in a Western African kingdom and being awe-struck upon seeing their royal court (which they described as being as big or bigger than its Dutch equivalent).

On top of that comes that this entry suddenly cuts down on the bitterness once it mentions the modern, American version of this. Which, to me, sounds like the kind of ethnocentrism that sparked the original spawning of this trope.

Ununnilium: Older societies in general may not have been this racist, but the trope comes out of considering white people superior. And since the "modern" version doesn't, of course it's less negative.

Also, I'm pulling out a couple examples:

  • A Comic Book example is Adam Strange, a (blonde, white) American archaeologist who is beamed to the planet Rann and - thanks to his jetpack and laser gun - quickly becomes their greatest hero. This was subverted in a pair of Swamp Thing issues by Alan Moore, in which it is revealed that the Rannians generally think of Adam as being 'lesser' than them despite his heroics because he's a human and therefore a lower lifeform.
  • The 1980s book Clan of the Cave Bear has a rather Aryan girl adopted by a swarthy, burly, hairy tribe. She proves their superior in intelligence, abstract thought, agility (as opposed to their crude strength) and adaptability, and makes innovations that they wouldn't dream of. The justification: they're Neanderthals, she's Homo Sapien.

...because they seem like something different. (Note that Adam Strange's Rannians were almost all white.) Is there a Speculative Fiction equivalent to this trope? Mighty Human?

Mister Six: Fair enough about the Adam Strange thing. I mostly put that in because it operates on the same principle (albeit with a science fiction bent) and Alan Moore's story was a clever reveral of Mighty Whitey tropes. Also, Space Ace may be interested to note that I am British and therefore couldn't care less that the modern version is American.

Kizor: Neanderthals squeak by in defining "Human", IMAO. Sapien is just the modern human.

SAMAS Becasue, in the end, we're all just a bunch of Homos. ^_^

Janitor: Pulled out ...
- which accounts for all the groups he hates, except the Japanese.
... in reference to Tarantino, as it is just flame bait, the resolution of which will not improve the article in any way.

Smapti: The reference isn't to Tarantino, it's to Pai Mei, the Bride's master, who "hates Caucasians, despises Americans, and has nothing but for contempt for women", and who refuses to speak Japanese because he "hates the goddamn Japs".

Janitor: Ah. The pronoun was a little ambiguous. I filled in the wrong "him". Quick fix.

Space Ace: No offense, Mister Six. No need to feel insulted (although, granted, I wouldn't want to be called American, either...). Anyway, it just looks a little biased, and I thought I'd point that out.

Mister Six: I don't know about biased (at least not in the way you're saying - the article only comments on racist authors, not olde worlde society at large), but it's purposely written in a non-neutral style because I found that funnier than wikipedia-style boring neutrality.

Ununnilium: Taking out: And in nearly any movie or series with a Multinational Team, it's a safe bet that the main character will be either Caucasian or Japanese, depending on which continent it was made on.

...because that's not really this trope.

A Carlssin: Wasn't "Dances with Wolves" an example of this also? I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know.
Mistersix: Love that joke at the start of the trope.
arromdee: I took out John Carter of Mars. First of all, being an Earth man, used to Earth's heavier gravity, he's stronger than Martians, just like the original explanation for Superman's strength. Second, he wasn't a normal person even before coming to Mars; he didn't age, and you or I would fight pretty well too if we did it for a hundred years in the prime of our life.

(Also, Adam Strange, which someone already took out, is just a sci-fi/superhero takeoff on John Carter of Mars.)

Scientivore: The description of Nangoku Shounen Papuwakun sounds like it was either parodied or deconstructed, not "subverted and ridiculed." Anybody know?

Sebastian And speaking of racism, is this sneering entry either relevant or necessary?

"Blatantly subverted in The Great White Hope about a black boxer looking for somebody, anybody for a challange and some publicity. He finds the one white guy who beat him back in college. The entire movie builds whitey up; and in the end the black guy beats the crap out of him in the match in record time; and all the other black people party. Their superiority in boxing continues."

This trope is about a old and silly use of a stereotype. The movie was actually a character study about the world's first black heavyweight boxing champion, the obstacles he faced trying to gain recognition as a champion, and the challenge he faced trying to live in two different worlds. The real Jackie Johnson faced the possibility of being murdered or lynched wherever he went.
  • Matthew The Raven: That's actually a movie called "The Great White Hype" from some time in the late 90s or early 2000s. I still remember the trailer even though I didn't see it.

Per Space Ace's original comment: while I am not up on 18th Century novels, I would posit the beginning of this trope to the 19th Century. Before then, the Europeans' sense of racial superiority is not much different than anyone else's sense of racial superiority (Chinese, Moguls, Turks, Persians, etc.) Then came the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution. At that point Europeans gained the technological and organizational skills that allowed them to wander the entire globe conquering everyone and re-organizing their societies. Then we get the "great white hunter" being better than any African hunter, the European soldier knowing more about war than the Indian soldier, the European explorer being better at survival than his native guides, the Mountain Man knowing the wilderness better than the Indian, etc. Whether it was true or not.

The modern version is dead on as described. A marketing question, more than anything else.

Stm177: Would Custer's loss at Little Big Horn be a real life subversion of this trope?

Seven Seals: Dubious. It might apply if everyone expected Custer to be better than the Indians, but from reading up on matters I gather that this issue actually attracts considerable controversy. Surely, though, by the time of LBH, people didn't expect the U.S. Army to win every time, the idea of being superior notwithstanding.
fleb: I'm not sure if this quote from the Zero Punctuation review of a "National Treasure with a scoop of Indiana Jones" game is a description of this trope or not—I'll put it here to see what others think, though.

  • But there have never been any decent games for white supremacists. That is, until Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, a rip-snorting adventure in which a WASP-ish manly man runs around slaughtering everyone who had the poor judgment to not be born white.

StruckingFuggle: Does 'Lawrence of Arabia' count?
  • Matthew The Raven: No, it's a real life example of a white guy going to a non-White country and leading a military campaign, mostly because he had a lot of resources behind him and good tactical sense.

SAMAS: Removed the Negima entry, as nowhere did they say that Negi was better than Ku. He might be more powerful, but that's because of the magic, not this trope.

Rocketman: Does 300 really count as an example of this trope? They barely exaggerated at all in how badly the Greeks wrecked the Persians.

Wascally Wabbit: Removed the Great White Hope example as above. Removed the 300 example for being nothing to do with the trope (the greeks prove their superiority at being...greek?).

Wascally Wabbit:Cut the real life examples, because unless we admit that white people are genetically superior then ascribing those men's success to being white and not smart/brave/lucky is nosensical.

Indefatigable: I can't seem to find it anywhere else as a trope on its own — is the white male leader of the Five-Man Band, Five-Token Band, íThree Amigos!, Token Trio, etc. a modern type of Mighty Whitey?

Incidentally, the modern version of Mighty Whitey that is mentioned here the most — where a white man gets to step in and be the hero for the minorities who apparently can't do as well for themselves without him — is sometimes called "What These People Need is a Honky". :)

I feel the need to comment on the Conan section:

"Used by Conan the Barbarian, who beat up plenty of black people. The excuse Howard gave was that Conan was a tribesman from the very cold and vicious north which made him so strong in the first place. This is of course utter tripe, as people from cold and "vicious" areas are no stronger or smarter than anyone else."

This completely ignores the fact that while the Cimmerians and Nordheimr are human, they are technically a fantasy race, who just a few thousand years ago were APES in Howard's chronology. They're not meant to represent people as they are now, they represent a half-mythical past where the differences between ethnicities are more pronounced. It also forgets the brown and black people who do prove a physical match for Conan, most notably Baal-pteor in "The Man-Eaters of Zamboula".

Finally, the idea isn't that "the cold and vicious north" doesn't make people stronger or smarter, it's the harder life and upbringing such a location entails that does. The Black Kingdoms of the Hyborian Age have plenty of resources, consumables and comfortable weather, allowing them to have some degree of luxury and protection from the elements. The Cimmerians had none of those amenities, and thus are more savage and barbaric than the Black Kingdoms. The simple fact is that only the strong and smart CAN survive in Cimmeria, they're the only ones who are still around. Ergo, the average Cimmerian is going to be smarter and stronger than the average Kushite, simply because a weak Cimmerian is a dead Cimmerian.
Matthew The Raven: @ - you deleted
  • This is a common cultural misconception of non-Japanese viewers watching Japanese animes; because white is the default setting for Western characters and racial markers like hair/skin color and eye shape are used to denote other races/ethnicies in Western cartoons, Japanese characters who lack those markers are viewed by Westerners as white. Japanese audiences see those characters as Japanese and no additional physical markers are necessary unless they are portraying an outside racial group or emphasizing emotional/personality traits.
on 29/Jun/09 at 07:28 PM The reason given: "Removed blatant stupidity." Would you care to explain what is blatantly stupid? It's a decent breakdown of racial identification.

Nornagest: Pulled from the Dragonball Evolution example:

*** But that still raises an interesting question - if everyone looks Caucasian in the original manga/anime, regardless of the fact that there's an implicit understanding that they're supposed to be Japanese, is it better to try and match the intent and have all of the characters played by Asian actors, if it means that most of the characters aren't going to look even remotely like the original source? Or is it better to cast actors who at least somewhat resemble the original design (ie, white), even if that conflicts with the implied ethnicity of the characters? It seems like either approach is going to result in Unpleasable Fanbase.

We have a trope on this. The stylization of anime characters doesn't indicate "Caucasian" but rather can be assumed to be stateless or ethnically neutral unless an effort is made to make it otherwise, and the Western take on it is more revealing of Western assumptions than of Japanese attitudes.

Does Batman really belong in this list? He's not a white guy coming to the rescue of a non-white population. He's just your run of the mill "guy who's good at everything." Or is every white guy who's good at something white people aren't supposed to be relegated to being mighty whiteys?

Wascally Wabbit: Removed Batman. Will clear out other non-examples later.

fidheallir: I feel like the white-ness of Mighty Whitey is a sub-trope of a larger trope. Because you definitely see a pattern where the main character coming from an "outside" culture and adding nothing to the plot (ie, it would have been just as good, or better, to have a main character from the other culture). And it would also address situations where a) the "mighty whitey" isn't white, b) the difference is something other than race, c) aliens and fantastic racism, and d) both parties are, in fact, white.

Mattachine: I concur with fidheallir. Mighty-Whitey has become a sub-trope, particularly because of all the non-human examples. Heck, there are even examples when the outsider is the same race, but a different culture. I was searching for this trope today but never dreamed of "Mighty Whitey" as a name. How about something more general, like "The Outsider Is the Savior" or something like that?

Robin Lionheart: I think "Mighty Whitey" should be renamed "What These People Need Is A Honky", the term James Nicholl is credited with coining for it. It's far more descriptive, evoking a white person coming in and solving non-white people's problems, whereas "Mighty Whitey" sounds vague and could be any number of tropes like, for example, the Great White Hope. Or at least mention the phrase in the body text, since given the apparent Google popularity for WTPNIAH, I doubt I'm the only one who has searched for that trope using that phrase.
Mac Phisto: The sections are confusing and over-lapping.
T Ri G: I was trying to link the phrase "The Beer Song" to the page Nation (because the reference is incomprehensible on its own), but my Wiki-fu is deserting me. I cannot see how to do a piped link to an article with a one-word title.

Fast Eddie: Double square brackets. Like so: [[{{Nation}} "The Beer Song"]]