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Book Smart Gal Street Smart Guy


(permanent link) added: 2011-04-12 10:38:21 sponsor: RossN (last reply: 2012-01-24 05:14:25)

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When it comes to intelligent characters in a story there is often a gender difference in the way that cleverness is shown.

Men are expected to be cunning (and thus proactive) while women are expected to wise (and thus passive). Any number of male action heroes are Book Dumb but are great at thinking on their feet while explicitly smart women tend towards the Hot Librarian or Hot Scientist sort of trope - their intelligence is shown more through learned knowledge than being naturally quick witted. Thus you might end up with a Talented Princess, Regular Guy situation where the gal knows much more than the guy but he is usually the one who saves the day through his quick wits.

There are several reasons for this trope, one being the popularity of hooking up poor guys with rich girls - the girl is probably better educated and more sophisticated while the guy is streetwise.

Compare and contrast Women Are Wiser - in that trope the female character is simply straight out smarter. In this trope both male and female characters are presented as clever in different ways.

Examples:
  • In It's a Boy Girl Thing (a body-swap Gender Bender romantic comedy) Woody, the guy is a Book Dumb jock while Nell, the girl is a Hollywood Nerd. Nell (in Woody's body) studies very hard to win the big football game while Woody (in Nell's body) relies on a flash of inspiration and some on the spot thinking to get him through a university interview.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons movie the hero is a quick thinking thief from the streets while his love interest is a educated but somewhat naive sorceress.
  • While James Bond is too cultured to be Book Dumb he rarely has any specialized knowlege on whatever weapon or procedure the Big Bad is using. Thus he often gets teamed up up with a Hot Scientist love interest.
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