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Smug Straight Edge

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"I think that's kind of cruel: I'm smoking and you come up coughing at me. Jesus. You go up to crippled people dancing, too?"

Drugs Are Bad.

But for some people, any sort of run-in with drugs, including alcohol — and in some cases, extended to smoking and even prescription drugs as well — makes you instantly less of a human being.

These people feel not only that alcohol and other drugs should be avoided, but that those who don't accept this philosophy are weak, brainwashed, generally inferior. In especially extreme cases, this attitude even applies toward people who have recovered from past problems with drugs, or have only done them once. Naturally, such people also often double as Moral Guardians.

Direct descendant of the Dry Crusader and often shares the Dry Crusader's self-righteousness.

Not to be confused with Straight Edge Evil, although villainous straight-edge characters often fall into this. If too villainous or smug, it's not unheard of for the Smug Straight Edgers to be less than sincere in their convictions, if not an outright Straw Hypocrite.


    open/close all folders 

  • PSAs can get in this territory sometimes. This mainly depends on whether or not The Aggressive Drug Dealer is present or not - if not, chances are the blame will fall on the people doing drugs.
  • Anti-tobacco "Truth" commercials are made of this.
    • Dave Barry mentions a commercial with two little girls so smug it makes you want to inhale a pack of Camels out of spite.

    Comic Books 
  • Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow, had a very negative view of drug dealers and users, and like many other Badass Normal, thought himself better than they were for staying straight. Then his sidekick Speedy started doing Heroin. The ensuing confrontation went...badly.
    • Later a Retcon in the Green Arrow: Year One mini-series gave Oliver some motivation for this attitude, other than misdirected anger at himself for neglecting his sidekick - he had been injured while defending the enslaved population of a tropical island turned drug-farm and the only painkiller available to the woman who treated his wounds was heroin. Ollie just barely survived the withdrawal, which left him wondering how anyone could willingly subject themselves to such an experience.
  • Todd Ingram from Scott Pilgrim, who says a big part of committing to veganism is knowing that you're better than most other people. Granted, this is a world where going vegan gives you powerful psychic abilities. He also isn't even a real vegan (well, he seemed to think so in the movie). Subverted with the other vegans seen though.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of Bob Roberts' songs is titled "Drugs Stink", and contains the lyrics "Drugs stink/They make me sick/Those that sell 'em/And those that do 'em/String 'em up/From the highest tree/Without a trace of sympathy."
  • Saruman shows these tendencies in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey by criticizing Radagast's consumption of mushrooms. In The Lord of the Rings, he makes similar comments about Gandalf's use of pipeweed. Saruman's a hypocrite since he has a large stash of pipeweed too (according to LotR's Appendicies, the tobacco crop of the entire South Farthing).
  • A Tale of Two Cities: Charles Darnay's disapproval of Sydney Carton's drinking problem leads Sydney to say "You are smug, Mr. Darnay, when you ask why people drink." Sydney goes on to say he drinks so he can tolerate people like Charles. (Later, to himself, he admits that the real reason he dislikes Charles is that Charles reminds him of what he could have been if not for his drinking.)

  • In Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October, the Navy doctor is smug about the fact that he doesn't drink, smoke, or use caffeine. It turns out that while he is indeed arrogant about this and is willing to acknowledge that fact, he does make a more nuanced argument against doing so in a hospital when a dumbass KGB agent nearly kills his patient by trying to light a cigarette in a room full of oxygen.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has the Scrubb family as a satire of this mentality.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The mindset (although not necessarily the movement itself) is parodied in Black Books; at one point, a rather uptight looking customer approaches the shabby, chain-smoking alcoholic Bernard in the shop while he's smoking a cigarette and rather pompously says "You know, I'm inhaling a lot of second-hand smoke from you." Bernard nonchalantly responds with: "Don't worry about it, buy me a drink sometime."
    • In one episode, Fran takes up yoga with a friend who turns out to be the New-Agey version of this, berating Fran for drinking, smoking, eating wheat or meat or chocolate, and hanging out with people who do all of the above. Fran tries to emulate her, briefly turning into a smug straight edge herself, but cracks by the end of the episode and returns to being the dissolute chain-smoker Bernard knows and tolerates.
  • The Good Place: Every action someone performs in life gives them either a positive or a negative effect to their total score, which ultimately determines which afterlife they end up in. Eating vegan gives a reasonable bonus... but not bragging about it gives over twenty times as much.
  • There's a smug Straight Edge guy at the quiet mining town in Skins, who tries to woo Effy. When the crew escapes the town, they mock his crossed arms salute.

  • Gry Jannicke Jarlum's "Svake mennesker" ("Weak People") is one long rant against people who smoke and/or drink. The narrator believes they only started doing these things because "everyone else did it" and they were too "weak" to say no. She also says they're ugly and stinky, while she, the teetotaller, has "style" and "character".
  • After making a lot of music about being on drugs, Eminem claimed to have given them up in 2002. Many of his diss tracks in 2003-5 involve smarmily raised middle fingers at his enemies for being worthless junkies for smoking weed, snorting coke or taking ecstasy (which just a couple of years prior had been Eminem's signature favourite substance and brazenly gobbled up by him in public and on stage). Considering Em's personality, the irony here is likely intentional. However, Eminem had not stopped using sleeping pills and painkillers and was in fact a far worse addict of them than he'd ever been to illegal drugs. After Eminem got clean for real, he becomes much more compassionate towards drug abusers and addicts, even towards his mother, who was one of his main nemeses previously. However, on Kamikaze and Music To Be Murdered By, he gets back into chewing out modern rappers for drinking lean and giving themselves too much brain damage to be able to rap. (To be fair, Em knows first-hand how much worse opioid addiction can make you at rapping.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Cactus Jack did a few promos in ECW bragging about how hardcore he is and did brag about never using drugs in high school or during his at the time 10-year career.note 
  • CM Punk has this as a catchphrase - "straight edge means I'm better than you" or "drug-free, alcohol-free, and better than you". The opening of his ROH\FIP theme, Miseria Cantare - AFI, even had him boasting about his straight edginess. When Punk works heel, he is of this sort and takes every opportunity to gloat about his straight-edge lifestyle.
  • Daniel Bryan in 2012 while not straight edge per se, repeatedly bragged that being a vegan makes him better than everyone, and even mocking people and saying they're eating garbage when they try to eat meat. CM Punk threatened to sue him for gimmick infringement.
  • Late 1970s WWE, with a line Punk should have stolen: From an interview Vince McMahon was conducting with The Grand Wizard and "Crazy" Luke Graham:
    "We think it is the booze in the fans that is causing them to boo us because everyone who's not imbibing knows greatness when they see it!"


    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Bill Hicks did a bit about the smugness of non-smokers, saying "I'd quit if it wasn't for the fact that I'd become one of you."

    Video Games 
  • Measurehead from Disco Elysium does not engage in alcohol, drugs or masturbation, and will not stop lording it over The Alcoholic Detective.
  • Frank spends the entirety of House Party (2017) keeping the other party-goers from drinking any alcohol; he wasn't even invited to the party, he just makes it his mission to attend parties nearby and keep the liquor on lockdown. He's also a giant hypocrite about it — not only will he allow you to take some alcohol if you perform favors for him, but he's also a drug dealer in the neighborhood.

    Visual Novels 

  • Grrl Power: Peggy (the Team Normal) describes superpowers as like vegans. "They can't wait to tell you about it."
    Peggy: I generally don't have to ask why someone can't eat out at my favorite tex-mex place with me, or if they just installed solar panels on their house, or that they can shoot laser beams out of their nipples. They will volunteer that information.
  • Bort the lapsed Straight Edge from Nothing Nice to Say hasn't abandoned two parts of the straight edge lifestyle; taking himself too seriously and beating people up.

    Western Animation 
  • Metalocalypse featured one Rikki Kixx, who runs a rehab movement and fronts a newly clean-and-sober band — it turns out sobriety has been legally and medically forced on him (and the potential loss of PR he'd get if he was caught imbibing doesn't help) and he's determined that everyone else should be as miserable as he is. The concert he headlined to promote his movement ends horribly, as a little-known side effect of a drug his bandmates took in the past kicked in, causing hallucinations in the audience, leading everyone to turn to drugs to cope with them. It doesn't help that his other big-name sobriety partner, Dr. Rockso, failed the Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere trope and fell off the wagon. And Pickles beats the shit out of him.
  • On A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, often the villains got involved with drugs (Yuck! Patooie!) and that's why they are messed up. A good example is a former skateboarding champion who's "no good at all" after he tried steroids.
  • South Park portrays Rob Reiner this way in his crusade against smoking. It also portrays him as a hypocrite, indulging in unhealthy eating habits while lecturing people about how unhealthy smoking is.
    • This same episode features the boys being mortified at a Totally Radical school assembly that discourages smoking. The performers close out by saying if they don't smoke, they can be just like them. Smash Cut to the boys behind the school smoking as many cigarettes as they can. Said critics at the time...
      Times Higher Education: Teachers to whom I've shown these clips sigh in recognition.
      The Battaltion: Watch the 'Butt Out' episode of South Park if you were not fortunate enough to witness such a spectacle as a preteen. Granted, the truth is substantially less ridiculous, but it is still incredibly, nauseatingly self-consciously hip.

    Real Life 
  • In 1995, California was the first state to institute a ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces, which included by necessity many bars and restaurants. Fast forward to the present day and California smoking bans have increased, though they vary depending on local laws. As a result, poor Californians or immigrants from places where smoking is part of the fabric of social life are looked down on. Upper-class, non-smoking Californians can get very snobby about keeping the air clean (you can fold this in with the stereotype of Californians being a bunch of granola-loving hippies).
  • As noted in the trope description for Straight Edge, Straight Edgers can be like this sometimes. In an extreme example, two Straight Edgers actually assaulted another man.
  • Mr. T is a teetotaler and prides himself on drinking only kid-friendly milk rather than alcohol.
  • Winners Don't Use Drugs is the name of an anti-drug slogan that was included on all arcade games imported into North America from 1989 through to the year 2000. The message appeared during the attract modes of both video games and on some pinball machines. It was established by FBI Director William S. Sessions with an agreement with the American Amusement Machine Association. By law, it had to be included on all imported arcade games and continued to appear long after Sessions left office. The quote normally appeared in gold against a blue or black background between the FBI seal and Sessions' name.
  • Penn Jillette doesn't object to alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, in fact, he advocates legalizing them. He also never misses an opportunity to remind people he's never used them ("I am pretty sure I am the only person to have been on the cover of High Times magazine who has never smoked a whisp of Marijuana"). This either comes off as some grand proclamation of philosophical fortitude or just a disclaimer from an opinionated person who's never experienced drugs first hand and does not want to be judged to be someone merely endorsing the legalization of drugs because he himself likes drugs.
  • Ted Nugent has been known to be patronizing towards alcoholism and other drug abuse. Then again, knowing Ted and his views and reactions towards supporters of gun control, veganism, and so on, would you expect anything less?
  • Real-world reversal: Crucial Youth were a straight-edge send-up that parodied the movement and regularly gave the audience a good clean with the Youthbrush.
  • While Real Life members of this group can be quite intolerable, it's worth noting that quite a few pro-drug users manage to invert this trope by being equally smug and insufferable about their drug use. The stereotypical attitude is one of the user 'having seen and experienced things you can never even dream of, being more creative, being more philosophical, and generally just being more worldly than you' simply because they smoked/shot/ate something.
  • Major Dick Winters (subject of Band of Brothers) admits in the book that he thought like this - he didn't drink until the evening of D-Day and thought that taking a single swallow of liquor would have a noticeable deadening effect on his reflexes and thinking.
  • People in Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs can veer into this, though this is understandable as the majority of people who enter programs like AA do so because they have first-hand experience with alcohol, drugs, etc. impacting their lives in a negative way and either don't want others (particularly loved ones) to experience the same, or the use of booze and drugs by others becomes triggering to them.
  • The metalcore act Earth Crisis has been banned from many, many, MANY venues over the years for doing things like yanking beer glasses and cigarettes away from people and frequently threatening violence upon anyone who resists, which in turn has resulted in multiple fights and straight-up brawls at their shows thanks to both the band and the more overtly militant members of their fanbase.
  • While not exclusively straight-edge, FSU ("Friends Stand United", originally "Fuck Shit Up") does have a large amount of straight-edge members, and over the years, they have gone from being a legitimate (if not extremely violent) anti-racist group to one of the most glaring real-life examples of The Quincy Punk. Harassment and threatening behavior towards people who are drinking, smoking, or engaging in drug usage is commonplace, as are multi-man ambushes and beatdowns on targets who have earned their ire.
  • P. J. O'Rourke once quoted an anonymous policeman as saying of drug addicts, "Air should be illegal if they breathe it."
  • Many people who oppose the legalization of recreational drugs often find themselves labelled as this, even if their rationale has less to do with concern about what other people do to themselves as perceived negative impact on their own quality of life (i.e. for example, someone who has no problem with people using ingested or oil-based marijuana but simply do not want to be exposed to the odor of pot smoke in their backyard or at a social gathering).


Video Example(s):



Donut goes on an anti-drug sermon after he finds out that Grif and Simmons were drugged by enemy soldiers.

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