What's Happening

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

Airbud: So why is this called "Closer to Earth", anyway?

Morgan Wick: Probably from the idea that the women are "closer to Earth" than the men, and/or bring them there.

Ununnilium: Yeah, the phrase is essentially a less-common synonym of "down to Earth".

Seth: I dont think this is very well phrased, its not particularly easy to understand as it is written now. Perhaps listing the situations where it is reversed would make it clearer.

Ununnilium: I agree. The entry talks about plot points, but the examples are all characters.

Random832: "A turning in a plot that relies on " doesn't seem to fit any of the articles I've seen this page linked from.

Duckluck: Well, if we shorten it to "the assumption that women are inherently morally superior to men," I think it'll get the general point across more effectively. Plus it will work for characters and plots.

We should probably also mention that this is one of the Oldest Ones in the Book seeing as how the modern conception of the this trope has its roots in the Victorian notion of "Separate Spheres" and has probably existed in some form or another for far longer.

Shire Nomad: I'm STILL not sure what this is. If it's simply depicting women as the morally superior gender, then it probably needs to be merged into Positive Discrimination, or at least made a subtrope of it. (Under the earlier description, I thought it was when we expected her to be more moral, but she turned out to be just as bad or worse than the men.)

That Other 1 Dude: From what I thought, it referred entirely to married couples, but it appears to have changed since then. EDIT: OK, I rewrote it. What do you think?

Anon: I cut this out: It certainly does not apply to The Maltese Falcon, Body Heat, Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, The World Is Not Enough, Double Indemnity, The Paradine Case, and any one of dozens more books, films, TV shows and comics with "Femme Fatale" characters. Insofar as it does apply, it reverses a tradition of male moral superiority dating back thousands of years. For example:
  • John Milton's view of women ("He for God only, she for God in him.").
  • The Christian tradition in which a woman is held responsible for the fall of man, and the entry of sin into the world.
  • The Greek myths (Pandora) in which the very creation of women by Zeus was intended to punish mankind. Truly, misogyny is Older Than Dirt.

It seems to be irrelevant to the trope itself. To be sure, there's a rich tradition of misogyny in literature, but there are plenty of tropes that cover that. It's nothing to do with this trope. Best to just note that this is usually a comedy trope and leave it at that. Speaking of which, there seem to be a very large number of Averted Tropes in the examples. As per the Averted Trope page, they shouldn't be added unless the trope is so universal that avoiding it is noteworthy, and this trope certainly isn't sufficiently ubiquitous for aversions to be noteworthy. Anyone want to go through and prune the aversions?

Mercy: Well I thought the passage was relevant, or I wouldn't have put it in. I was simply pointing out that:
  • 1. That the supposed trope is completely opposed by a huge body of media depictions of women as morally inferior to men going back millennia.
  • 2. That even in modern media, the trope is not at universal, and simply doesn't apply at all to many female characters.

Irandrura: The Anon is me (it's best to use a handle so this is less awkward). In response, while I don't debate that it's true that there's an incredibly large number of works going back to the dawn of human literature that portray men as morally superior, and that this trope is clearly not universal, I don't think those have anything to do with this trope as such.
  • 1. What you're talking about there is a different trope. You might want to head to YKTTW; while this trope is essentially 'automatic female moral superiority', the fact is that 'automatic male moral superiority' is also a trope. Your point would be better made if we made the male superiority trope and put a note saying 'compare Trope X, which inverts the gender hierarchy' at the end of this one.
  • 2. Its lack of universality doesn't matter. We don't put notes on any other trope saying 'not every character uses this trope'. The standing assumption is that a trope doesn't apply to a character.
That said, it's true that the wording of this trope is a little kludgy. The first line could be read as implying a universal tendency, which certainly isn't true. I'll try and make that a bit more balanced.

Mercy: No Irandrura, I don't think it's OK to just say "It's a different trope" and blow it off to YKTTW. The point of this "Closer To Earth" trope is to assert that media depictions of men and women 'automatically' assume moral superiority on the part of women. The fact that there is an enormous canon assuming exactly the opposite is relevant to the basic validity of this trope.

As your recent update puts it, this trope represents "a general convention whereby female characters are automatically placed in a more positive light". I am not convinced that any such general convention exists. Many of the "examples" listed for this trope are aversions or inversions, which tends to suggest that "automatically" is a bit dubious.

Irandrura: Whoa, slow down. Tropes are not political, remember, nor are they opportunities for soapboxes to be put up.

This trope, in essence, is a subtrope of Positive Discrimination whereby women are portrayed as morally superior for no reason other than womanhood. That's all. There are enough examples to demonstrate that this is a real trope. (It might not be specific enough to be separate from Positive Discrimination and should be folded back into that one, but that's a different matter.) The purpose of the article and trope description is simply to describe this. The fact that this trope isn't always used and indeed the inverse of this trope is often used is basically irrelevant. A trope is 'valid' if it is used and we can provide examples. Refer to the Three Rules of Three. This trope has the examples; it is thus a valid trope.

That the opposite trope is often used doesn't affect this. Evil Feels Good may be the opposite to Good Feels Good, but they're both meaningful tropes and are both equally valid. The same here. Male moral superiority is not part of this trope. You suggest that this trope asserts that media depictions of men and women automatically assume female moral superiority. That's not true. You're generalising. This trope asserts that sometimes in fiction women are depicted as automatically morally superior. As the examples show, that is true.

I'll have another crack at trying to hammer out a description that you don't find objectionable, and I have to repeat what I said before: if you want to write about the trope of male moral superiority, then either go to YKTTW and make that trope, or go over the Double Standard list and enjoy yourself.

(random passer-by): I've been watching this page for a while, and thought the idea seemed rather older than television.

I have just discovered that the French have, or once had, a brutal little epigram for this: "Nostalgie de la boue," or, literally, "nostalgia for the mud."

It is the political and literary device of simultaneously judging someone to be a hopeless primitive or even subhuman, while ascribing to him a mysterious and inexplicable wisdom, moral or spiritual superiority, perhaps even magical powers. has a fairly long article about this strange idea, which appears to go back to the Industrial Revolution at the very least, perhaps much further.

This is definitely a bait-and-switch trope title, as "closer to earth" is typically seen as measure of common sense, not morality. Moral superiority is not intrinsic to the concept of "Closer to Earth". More rational, more mature and more grounded I will grant you... but none of those things necessarily mandate, imply or are inherent in moral superiority. While moral superiority certainly can be one of the components of "Closer to Earth" it certainly isn't the defining characteristic nor does it come close to encompassing all other aspects inherent in the concept. In the real world "Closer to Earth" is frequently used to describe people (of both genders) who are more sensible, not morally superior.

In short, the problem with this entry is it applies a term commonly used to describe common sense to moral superiority. There may indeed be a term for the assumed inherent moral superiority of women but "Closer to Earth" isn't it.