Like Dastardly Whiplash
, this is an oddly specific character. Often a villain, or at the very least extremely shady, the Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit is where the Corrupt Hick
intersects with the Villainous Glutton
. They are always obese. They always speak with a strong Southern accent, normally an upper class drawl. They are almost always dressed in a white suit
, cane optional. If it's not truly white, it'll be pale enough to have the same effect. If it's someplace in the Deep South
, like Mississippi or Louisiana, they will be extremely sweaty and constantly dabbing themselves with a handkerchief when not lazily fanning themselves. This is optional in places like Kentucky, but they will occasionally manage to be sweaty
even in an Appalachian winter.
The root of the stereotype is in actual Southern fashions, combined with negative stereotypes of plantation owners. The white suit was an enduring Southern fashion down to the '70s, and can still be seen to this day, because the South is hot
, not to mention humid. The best such suits were made of linen, which is naturally moisture-wicking and highly thermally conductive; the next-best quality was seersucker, a cotton weave in which most of the cloth stays away from the skin. (Seersucker suits are fashionable to this day in Washington, DC
, which is very much a part of the South's subtropical climate zone.) Being white meant that the suit reflected light, and so didn't get hot as fast as other fabrics; it also allowed its wearer to show off that he didn't have to do anything that would get his clothing dirty.
Historical figures who sported the Southern white suit included Mark Twain
and Colonel Sandersnote
; but neither of them was particularly fat or particularly villainous. Mark Twain's satires of Southern aristocracy might have been the Trope Codifier
here; Colonel Grangerford, from Huckleberry Finn
, might be an example.
The villainous Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit
is a shameless glutton; the usual objects of his gluttony are mainstream Southern foods (sweet, fatty dishes which originated in the wet, cold, rainy Scottish Lowlands, and were definitely not adapted to suit the wet, hot, rainy Southern ones), but he's often found in association with gumbo, suggesting that he may have Cajun origins.
He occasionally has Jabba Table Manners
, and often has a careless, laid-back manner. He's probably Nouveau Riche
and quite possibly a Corrupt Hick
; he's almost certainly not an aristocratic, genteel, warlike Southern Gentleman
He might be rich by anyone's standards; or he might just be better-off than the rural poverty that surrounds him. One way or the other, he can afford very large quantities of very good food, and it's not at all unlikely that he gets the money from being part of, or the leader of, a corrupt local government.
One occasionally sees an uncorrupt, or out-and-out heroic, character of this sort. They sometimes sell food; at other times, they, like the Southern Gentleman
, are lawyers
For non-fat, non-sweaty, non-Southerners, who are unlikely to be corrupt but who may have a different set of villainous characteristics, see Man in White
. For Southerners too blue-blooded to sweat, see Southern Gentleman
. For characters who are more powerful and even less genteel, see Corrupt Hick
(remembering that there's a lot of overlap). For villains who eat a great deal, Southern or not, see Villainous Glutton
. And for other stereotypes of the obese, compare and contrast Fat Bastard
, Fat Idiot
, and Fat Slob
Since this is (more or less) a Villain Trope
, No Real Life Examples, Please!
(More or less.)
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Films — Animation
- Averted with "Big Daddy" Labouff from The Princess and the Frog. He's a Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit and a bit of a glutton, but a pretty Nice Guy. Played by John Goodman, too (see below).
- Played straight with another John Goodman one: Layton T. Montgomery from "Bee Movie". John Goodman seems to like that role.
- Rango has the mayor of Dirt, minus the sweaty part — reptiles can't sweat.
Films — Live-Action
- Constantine: The personification of Lucifer. Complete with Louisiana accent and white suit, which should be noted, was missing shoes, so you could see filth literally dripping off of his bare feet. Probably hot tar or pitch — which sorta makes sense.
- One showed up in Angel Heart. He got his head boiled in gumbo.
- O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Governor Pappy O'Daniel. Corrupt, but in a self-interested, neutral way. Also, John Goodman plays a straighter, evil example, as a shady bible salesman/Klansman who beats the heroes senseless with a tree branch and steals their money. The Real Life Pappy O'Daniel is not an example, however.
- Loren Visser in Blood Simple is probably the ultimate villainous example of this.
- Passion Fish: The John Sayles movie kinda-sorta averted this, or maybe deconstructed it. A Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit shows up at one point, but he's the main character's gay cousin (who else wears a white suit nowadays?) and the two of them spend a delightful evening drinking heavily and trading family stories.
- In Oliver Stone's JFK, John Candy portrays Real Life New Orleans defense attorney Dean Andrews this way.
- The Longest Yard (2005 version). He's a friend of the prison warden and behaves as you expect from a fat southerner.
- The Waterboy: One of Bobby's professors — so much so that Bobby calls him Colonel Sanders. He isn't evil so much as a Butt Monkey, and he quickly finds out the hard way you don't make fun of Mama.
- The movie Life features at least three examples. Two were prison wardens, the first of whom fits the trope to a T. The second warden is identical in appearance but a much more decent human being. A minor but eventually important villain in the beginning of the film also shows that fat, sweaty, white-bedecked Southern bastards aren't exclusively white.
- Senator Seabright "Sebe" Cooley of South Carolina in Advise And Consent, although he's more wily and shrewd than villainous.
- Signor Ferrari in Casablanca has a lot in common with this character.
- Davido, the greedy building developer from (the live-action part of) Arthur and the Invisibles.
- South American variant in That Man from Rio. As Adrian is shining a shoeshine kid's shoes (not having any money for the kid doing his) - a fat guy in white brushes the kid aside to get his own shoes done. Adrian polishes his white shoes black, and, of course, he can't see his own shoes.
- Parodied in Doctor Detroit, where Dan Aykroyd pretends to be an example of this trope in order to curry favour with a judge who is an actual example.
- The antagonist of The Muppet Movie, Doc Hopper, the owner of Doc Hopper's French-Fried Frog Legs is fat, Southern, and wears a white suit. He also tries to force Kermit to advertise his restaurant, resorting to attempting both brainwashing and murder when he refuses.
- Boss Hogg, from The Dukes of Hazzard. Possibly the Trope Codifier.
- Matlock: Ben Matlock has the suit, is a bit on the large side, and sweats a lot, but he's the protagonist and his clients are always innocent. He can be really terrifying when he harangues the witness though.
- The Mission: Impossible revival series has an episode with an antagonist like this, known as Mr. Morgan.
- Although the main villain from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Overdrawn at the Memory Bank has based himself on a character from the movie Casablanca, he still belongs to this trope, particularly when it comes to his constant eating and his attempts to be Affably Evil.
- On Good Eats, Alton has an uncle (actually Alton in a costume) who wears a white suit (although he isn't fat or abnormally sweaty), since he's supposed to be a parody of Col. Sanders. He usually shows up when the recipe in question is distinctly Southern (such as fried catfish).
- Mission: Impossible: Jake Morgan, the villain in "Bayou", is a fat, sweaty southern in a white suit who runs a white slavery ring.
- Ray Ray (who is skinny) and Randy (who is not) as "The Man" in My Name Is Earl.
- Gary Hart (no relation to the Hart Family or Jimmy Hart), a prominent wrestling personality in the South during the territorial days, did the Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit routine.
- Although Ernie Ladd wasn't fat, he did have some of the mannerisms. Southern accent, intensely classist and racist, and when doing interviews, he sometimes donned white or otherwise pastel suits.
- Colonel Robert Parker
- Skip Muldoon is a captain of a luxury riverboat, drug smuggler, and Depraved Bisexual with an emphasis on the depraved.
- John "Pappy" Le Blanc: a paranoid, senile, and dangerously rich head of the Mississippi drug cartel that his half-brother Skip worked for.
- Blake Dexter, the Big Bad of Absolution and an industrialist who kidnaps Macguffin Girl Victoria.
- Doug Dimmadome from The Fairly OddParents.
- Tiny Attorney from The Venture Bros., another heroic example. Bonus points are awarded for simultaneously being a Simple Country Lawyer.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Forgotten", homeless people are being kidnapped and forced to work in a mine run by one of these types, pictured above complete with a piece of fried chicken and a fan. (All he lacked was a Southern accent.)
- The Simpsons
- The recurring character of the Rich Texan fits the "fat", "southerner", and "in a white (or, at least, light tan) suit" elements of the trope, though he isn't commonly shown to be sweaty or gluttonous. He is very rich and occasionally somewhat shady.
- Big Daddy on the Spinoff Showcase "Wiggum P.I." is a classic example.
- Wiggum himself gets a related classic line, after watching a racially-insensitive cartoon: "Even I find this offensive, and I'm a fat Southern Sheriff!"
- The southern general that Homer fought a duel with in "E-I-E-I-[Annoyed Grunt]" is also an example.
- Homer was definitely trying for the look when he re-styled himself as "Colonel Homer", manager of Lurleen Lumpkin in the 3rd season episode of the same name. He brings the suit out again in Season 19's "Papa Don't Leech", when Lurleen returns to Springfield.
- Also played with in the episode "Bart the Fink", where the IRS is investigating Krusty the Klown's off-shore accounts and a Fat Sweaty Caymen Islander in a White Suit answers the phone:
Fat Sweaty Guy: I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to divulge information on that client's secret, illegal account. [hangs up] Oh crap, I shouldn't have said he was a client. Oh crap! I shouldn't have said it was a secret. OH CRAP!! I certainly shouldn't have said that it was illegal! Eh, it's too hot today. (fans himself)
- Parodied with the anthropomorphic chicken lawyer.
- Played straight in the Atlantic episode with a Fat Southern Merman in a white suit.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: Jimmy Nixon McGarfield, the Fourth Grade President-for-Life, is a tween example. He starts out with the typical white suit, but gets a black one once he's officially a villain.
- Mr. Fishchoder (who even has a white eyepatch) from Bob's Burgers.
- Big Boss from C.O.P.S..
- Piggish Captain Planet villain Hoggish Greedley usually preferred the army fatigue look, but appeared in a white suit on occasion.
- One episode of Saturday Supercade, the Donkey Kong cartoon, "Mississippi Madness", has someone named Colonel Culpepper as the main antagonist, who plans to steal a jewel.
- The father of the alligator Southern Belle sisters from Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation.