Created By: Unknown Troper on May 25, 2007
Nuked

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Do we have that trope for the "White Man Is Always Superior" up somewhere? Things like Tarzan, and most recently - The Last Samurai - which all show you can take a white dude, drop him anywhere, and he'll surprass all of the natives in a short amount of time? I thought it was dead until that awful Tom Cruise movie.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • May 26, 2007
    SevenSeals
    Puny Earthlings mentions this trope as being dead in the John Carter of Mars example, but it doesn't have a name yet. Superior White Man?

    On a separate note, we may have enough tropes by now for a "Racism" category.
  • May 26, 2007
    MisterSix
  • May 26, 2007
    Haphazard
    I like that one. XD
  • May 26, 2007
    {{Fly}}
    I vote Mighty Whitey.
  • May 26, 2007
    Branfish
    Couldn't we just have Mighty White, like the bread?
  • May 26, 2007
    adam850
    Reminds me of history class, where we talked about the historical concept of the 'White Man's Burden". "A straightforward analysis of the poem may conclude that Kipling presents a Eurocentric view of the world, in which non-European cultures are seen as childlike. This view proposes that white people consequently have an obligation to rule over, and encourage the cultural development of, people from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds until they can take their place in the world by fully adopting Western ways. The term "the white man's burden" has been interpreted as racist, or taken as a metaphor for a condescending view of non-Western national culture and economic traditions, identified as a sense of European ascendancy which has been called "cultural imperialism"."
  • May 26, 2007
    Jordan
    I forget what prompted it, but I referred to the Last Samurai in a previous discussion, comparing it to Dances With Wolves. It seems like both are a more PC version of the "white man's burden" in which while European culture is presented negatively, a white guy still becomes the leader of a non-white group. Thus, while seeming to subvert racist Discredited Tropes, it brings them back to life in the process.
  • May 26, 2007
    SevenSeals
    @Branfish: First, that's unfair to the bread, and second, it doesn't rhyme as well.

    @adam850: This trope is not exactly the white man's burden, but it's related. Rather than presenting foreign cultures as primitive and in need of civilized guidance, it has one guy who, apparently by virtue of his noble descent, overcomes the hostile reactions of his environment, and is completely accepted by them, if not outright chosen to lead. The PC versions generally make the guy an insensitive clod first, so they can appear to criticize the arrogance of his culture, but in the end he's a better native than the natives are.
  • May 26, 2007
    adam850
    True, Seven Seals.
  • May 26, 2007
    Ununnilium
    I don't agree that The Last Samurai and Dances With Wolves are examples, though. The main character isn't good because he's white, he's good because he's him.
  • May 26, 2007
    Unknown Troper
    It's still unreleastic though, because he's magically accepted by two groups of people who were fairly xenophobic at the time.
  • May 27, 2007
    SevenSeals
    @Ununnilium: You've got a point there. The problem is, even if we accept that the writers aren't being racist and the guy might just as well have been an alien (or a woman, for that matter -- ignoring the fact that he never is an alien or a woman), to audiences this kind of plot still hits far too close to the "white man shows the natives his superiority" plot.
  • May 27, 2007
    MisterSix
    I only saw the end of Dances With Wolves, but The Last Samurai stands, I think. He's still a European outsider who 'goes native' and - importantly - is the only one of them to survive. Would Kurtz from Apocalypse Now be another example, do you think? There, at least, it's subverted because he's completely apeshit.
  • May 27, 2007
    SevenSeals
    Speaking of which, Going Native would be a sufficiently neutral name for the trope if we don't want to over-emphasize the view that it's racist.
  • May 27, 2007
    Branfish
    Going Native seems to be a different trope, though. In fact, I'm surprised it isn't taken already - I'm off to suggest a new trope for it.

    I would go with something a little more descriptive, like Outsider Chieftain, which would still avoid the impications of racism.
  • May 27, 2007
    MisterSix
    But the whole point of the thing is that it's racist, or has racist origins. As the dude up their points out, he thought it was a dead trope until Tom Cruise grabbed a katana.

    Perhaps it would be useful to set up Going Native as an opposite, though, because those stories generally have the implication that the native culture is wiser, more just or less generally ghastly than 'civilised' Europe. It's still patronising but marginally less offensive.
  • May 27, 2007
    SAMAS
    Going Native is good for the non-Glurge-y version.

    For the one in question, I like Mighty Whitey, but also suggest Wonder Bread and Great White Hope.

    Or for that matter, Great White Hype.
  • May 27, 2007
    NextDoorToAlice
    Ooh, ooh, Wonder Bread.

  • May 27, 2007
    MisterSix
    Great White Hope's good but I don't get Wonder Bread...?
  • May 27, 2007
    Ununnilium
    It's a brand of (of course) white bread.
  • May 28, 2007
    MisterSix
    Oh, right. If it has to be a yeast-based reference I'd go with Mighty White because Wonder Bread is a bit too obscure for me. It's, like, two steps removed from the original meaning of the trope.

    Incidentally, if you remove the "doing it better" part from the equation then this could be Truth In Television - white guys are always stealing the black man's ideas. ;)
  • May 28, 2007
    SAMAS
    The main reason I don't like Mighty White is because I've never, ever heard of it before now.

    Wonder Bread, on the other hand, I'd heard of years before I ever saw it. In fact, I suggested it because one of those times what when it was actually used as a derogatory epithet for a white guy. (in The Stand)

  • May 28, 2007
    Branfish
    I've never heard of Wonder Bread either. Is it an American brand? Over here in Blighty, Mighty White is the quintessential cheap white bread. I'm not even sure if they still sell it, but it's certainly in the public consciousness over here.

    Even now I know it's a bread, I still don't understand why Wonder Bread would work as a name for this trope - it seems to have nothing to do with its subject matter, except via the other bread, Mighty White. Since you say you've never heard of the latter, SAMAS, what was your rationale for suggesting it?

    Anyway, if we're going for something bread-related, I vote Mighty White. If we're not, then I vote Great White Hope.
  • May 28, 2007
    Andyroid
    I'm one for Great White Hope myself.
  • May 28, 2007
    SAMAS
    @Branfish No, I meant that I had heard of Wonder Bread a long time before I actually saw it in a store.
  • May 28, 2007
    MisterSix
    Can't you have Mighty Whitey with the "y" and without the bread associations? I've heard of white people being referred to as "whitey" before.
  • May 28, 2007
    HeartBurnKid
    Plus, it rhymes, which is always good.
  • May 28, 2007
    MisterSix
    Also it was my idea, which is obviously why I'm pushing it so much. :)
  • May 28, 2007
    rrh
    I think Wonder Bread vs. Mighty Whitey depends on what aspect you want to focus on.

    For me, Wonder Bread has the connotation of being inoffensive but bland. The trope isn't driven by a belief in the superiority of whites, but by a belief that white American audiences are too finicky to watch a movie starring someone who isn't also a white American.

    Mighty Whitey, however, focuses more on how much of a chameleon this character is, and gaining skills to match and surpass the locals in a fraction of the time.

    And I've also never heard of Mighty White.
  • May 28, 2007
    MisterSix
    Well the whole point of the trope at the start was to focus on the (either conscious or unconscious) racist element of the superior white man besting the locals at their own game.

    That producers think American audiences only want to see white Americans is more of a modern-day cause for this trope. It would also apply to some of the Going Native examples when that article is online.
  • May 28, 2007
    Alexandra Erin
    I'd throw in a vote for Great White Hope ... or perhaps Great White Chief, which seems to me to go more straight to the heart of what this trope's about... it's also a stereotypical way for stereotypical natvies to refer to such characters, in 19th-early 20th century literature.
  • May 29, 2007
    Ununnilium
    Why not just go back to the source and call it White Mans Burden? That's the classical term, after all.
  • May 29, 2007
    HeartBurnKid
    Because White Mans Burden is about the white man civilizing the savages, while this trope is about the white man out-savaging the savages.
  • May 29, 2007
    Earnest
    Pathfinder is another modern example, albeit this time the white guy is a viking 11 year old raised by Native Americans. The movie and comic even makes a big deal about him having a destiny, so it might at least be Scotch Taped compared to other examples.
  • May 29, 2007
    LickyLindsay
    I vote for Mighty Whitey.
  • May 29, 2007
    Korodzik
    Mighty Whitey.
  • May 29, 2007
    Roland
    Mighty Whitey vote here as well.
  • May 29, 2007
    Branfish
    I'm gonna sling in another vote for Great White Hope.
  • June 2, 2007
    MisterSix
    Well it's been five days since anyone posted on this thread, so I took the initiative and made Mighty Whitey.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ij3hhl7v&trope=MightyWhitey