Created By: RossN on April 12, 2011 Last Edited By: RossN on January 24, 2012

Book Smart Gal Street Smart Guy

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
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.
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • May 9, 2011
    RossN
    Bump.
  • May 10, 2011
    Arivne
    Compare:
  • May 10, 2011
    Chabal2
    If anything, I see the opposite of this trope more often: the epitome of wisdom is a Grandpa God-looking old man, while women use cunning and feminine wiles to manipulate others (usually men).
  • May 10, 2011
    BuckRivera
    Compare:
    • Men Act Women Are: "women are considerate and passive, men want to get things done and are active".

    I'd say this is a subtrope of Men Act Women Are.
  • May 10, 2011
    RossN
    @Chabal2: I think that is the older version of the trope while this is the newer version. Certainly in action adventure stories at least 'learned female/quick thinking male' seems to be more common.
  • May 11, 2011
    BuckRivera
    Chabal's is as valid. I agree that it's part of an older generation of tropes (that still comes to the foreground very often), in line with All Women Are Lustful, for example. Do We Have This One?
  • May 11, 2011
    peccantis
    Seconding Chabal2. I see this as inversion of Wise Men Scheming Women.
  • May 12, 2011
    Merlock
    The Princess And The Frog gives us Dr. Facilier, the sneaky witch doctor who drives the film's plot, compared to Mama Odie, the wise voodoo priestess who merely provides advice (at least until she marries Tiana and Naveen at the end for a Deus Ex Machina resolution.
  • October 17, 2011
    CindehQ
    • Eyeshield 21: Mamori is studious and observant while Hiruma is clever and manipulative.
  • January 21, 2012
    TheHandle
    I thought in "Wizads VS Witches" that the stereotype was that wizards were the wise and worldly while the witches had all the base cunning and the petty, mean, domestic kind of magic? You know, like, men have Epic, far-reaching concerns while women have Melodrama, domestic concerns.
  • January 22, 2012
    RossN
    This is more the trope where you have the highly educated gal and the street smart but unintellectual guy - you know like Sam and Diane from Cheers. Or Bart and Lisa Simpson.
  • January 22, 2012
    Psi001
  • January 23, 2012
    Koncur
    • Exaggerated on ReBoot. Dot, as the Command.COM of the system, is obsessed with planning to the point of being a Chess Master. In one episode, the complicated nature of planning a high-profile wedding is enjoyable to her. Bob, on the other hand, tends to dive into things and prefers to think on his feet. The nature of both characters tends to be Lampshaded, discussed and parodied fairly often. The passive part is averted, though, as Dot's plans save the day about as much as Bob's cunning.
  • January 23, 2012
    jate88
    So this has nothing to do with wicca?
  • January 23, 2012
    RossN
    Nope.

    In fact I'll change the title to Booksmart Gal Street Smart Guy which probably fits the trope better.
  • January 23, 2012
    jatay3
    Republic Of Cinnabar : Adele is book smart, Leary is street smart(or space smart)
  • January 24, 2012
    Synchronicity
    • From Tangled, Rapunzel is a ditzy ingenue who's been locked up in a tower her whole life, and Flynn's a professional thief.
    • Tessa Gray (booksmart) and Will Herondale (streetsmart) from Infernal Devices.
  • January 24, 2012
    Boston
    In The Mummy, Rick (Brandon Fraser) is a fairly straightforward action hero, while Evy (Rachel Weisz) is a Hot Librarian.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=st1r3lkcwsww4zfbyx6sxf74