Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Mighty Whitey

Go To

Basic Trope: White outsider becomes a better tribesman than any of the natives.

  • Straight: Bob, a white guy coming from a city, becomes better at fishing with a spear within a week, than a Native American, who has been fishing with a spear his entire life.
  • Exaggerated: A white guy, coming from a city, manages to become drastically better at fishing with a spear, shooting with a bow, riding a horse, wrestling bears, etc, than any other member of the actual native tribe, and is quickly appointed chief. All within a few days.
  • Downplayed: Despite living his entire life in the city, it turns out Bob is pretty good at spear fishing. For a white guy. He's better than the other white guy anyway. Compared to a native, its not impressive.
    • Bob was already a master longbowman but not as good an outdoorsman he had to learn the lay of the land and how to be more self-sufficient in fletching and bowmaking and mastery of the lay of the land. While a very effective fighter it was from preexisting skill and he is specifically a bit worse at other aspects. His might is specifically from being a hybrid.
  • Justified:
    • Bob has access to better health care, nutrition, education and technology. A lack of familiarity with an activity is only a minor disadvantage for him, one he easily overcomes. Also the native is likely an inbred hick from a small, poor, isolated, unimportant village largely forgotten by time where parasites, starvation, chronic sickness, poverty, ignorance and worse problems plauge everyone.
    • The Native American was the village idiot, and Bob had spear fishing as one of his hobbies.
    • Advertisement:
    • Bob is a Determinator who works his way to success and acceptance by the fully-developed, sympathetic non-white characters.
    • Bob is conscious of the fact that he is at a disadvantage and works crazy hard to learn, while the non-white rival is complacent in his skills.
    • Bob is doing things better than the non-white, but it's always things that learning from an advanced society would help with, such as building or creating traps. The chief is taking advantage of the advanced knowledge that the white has to help them, which is why he seems to be doing better.
  • Inverted: A Native American goes to a city and becomes a better pilot/programmer/rock musician than anyone else.
  • Subverted:
    • Bob looks like he has mastered the technique but he never manages to outdo the Native American.
    • It turns out that, in fact, both are Native Americans or both are white — it's just that only one looks it.
    • Advertisement:
    • Bob starts out as The Chosen One, or so we think. In the end, his black friend ends up pulling a Big Damn Heroes on him.
    • Bob does better with spear-fishing but never catches up to the Native American in anything else.
    • It turns out Bob was raised by the tribe from infancy, so he's merely equally as competent as his clan mates. Spear fishing is just something he's got a knack for.
  • Double Subverted: Bob, realizing that his technique is flawed, uses some of his "street smarts" and ends up blasting the Native American out the water.
  • Parodied:
    • Bob's successes are all down to luck—in reality he's a bumbling fool...and as soon as he tries to use his skills against a really dangerous opponent, the natives have to rescue him.
    • Bob gets a job at an indian casino and very quickly rises through the ranks until he becomes the new leader.
  • Zig Zagged:
    • Bob looks like he's mastered the art of spear-fishing... but the natives are still better... so Bob draws on his unique experiences and does become better than everyone else... but he still fails miserably at everything else the non-white characters consider normal... but the skills he has and they don't eventually win him some respect... as the local Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
    • Bob becomes close friends with one of the natives and they teach each other their cultures. Both of them are able to use their own cultures to understand each other's culture better than anyone else.
  • Averted:
    • Bob is not especially better at anything than the Native American.
    • There are no white characters or no non-white characters in the cast.
  • Enforced:
  • Lampshaded: "Of course I can do that better than you stupid savages. Nothing's impossible for a white guy!"
  • Invoked: The village chief somehow arranges for Bob to live with them because he feels his advanced knowledge could be beneficial to the tribe.
  • Exploited: "Well, white guys like me always do great in these situations, so this should be a cinch!"
  • Defied: The comparative abilities of the characters have absolutely nothing to do with race.
  • Discussed: "Hey, a white guy is trying to learn our ways. How many days do you think it'll take for him to be the best of us?"
  • Conversed: "Look, a movie with a white guy in a non-white setting. You just know he'll be the best at everything and end up saving all the non-white people."
  • Deconstructed:
    • Bob becomes better at fishing with a spear but is filled with guilt because the Native American spent his entire life spear fishing and is still inferior in skill.
    • Bob only achieves success after a lot of hard work, and the non-white characters never fully trust him.
    • Bob achieves success but loses his way and becomes alienated from society because of it.
    • Being so much better than the natives gives Bob an A God Am I complex: causing him to become corrupted and take advantage of both the natives and his culture.
    • Bob is better than the Natives only because the Natives are pulling a Massive Multiplayer Scam to mock this trope, and Bob is naive enough to fall for it.
    • Bob's success story is used as a justification for racism.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Bob is better at everything than all of the non-white characters because the film was meant to accurately portray thoughts of the time.
    • With Bob's example, all the natives eventually learn to be better than they were.
    • Bob is firmly on the side of the Native Americans, and does not allow the racists to abuse his success story.
  • Played For Laughs: Bob is a total ditz, but manages to be better than the Native Americans thanks to sheer luck.
  • Played For Drama: The Native Americans feel jealous and threatened by Bob, and attack him.

You know, without the Mighty Whitey spaces between the letters on this page they'd be meaningless.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: