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Playing With / Popular Is Dumb

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Basic Trope: The popular kids are usually not the brightest.

  • Straight: A popular character who is Book Dumb.
  • Exaggerated: A popular character who is Too Dumb to Live.
  • Downplayed: A popular character isn't the best student but, at the same time, isn't necessarily dumb—they have average intelligence at best.
  • Justified:
    • A popular character uses Obfuscating Stupidity to avoid being called a nerd.
    • Popular culture has a tendency to emphasize image over substance, to value appearance over ability, and to overvalue some talents and undervalue others. It's not that being popular makes a person dumb, but that being dumb is no barrier to popularity, while being seen as "nerdy" is.
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  • Inverted: An intelligent character who isn't very popular.
  • Subverted: A popular character is seemingly unable to get good grades, but still manages to score an A on an important test.
  • Double Subverted: However, it later turns out that the student cheated.
  • Parodied:
    • A character says or does something stupid, and becomes instantly popular because of it.
    • The grades a school gives its students are dependent on how popular they are. Hated by all? Straight A's. Beloved? F.
    • A competition between two kids for popularity turns into a contest of who can say the dumbest things to a cheering and increasingly adoring crowd.
  • Zig Zagged:
    • A Jerk Jock who is seemingly dumb scores an A on the important test, but he's framed for cheating, except it was set up by the kids he bullied in the past, which he finds out through his hidden intelligence, but it was actually his smart friend who discovered it, and it turns out he really did cheat on that test.
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    • Whether he's a Genius Ditz, a Ditzy Genius, Feigning Intelligence, or Obfuscating Stupidity depends on the writer.
  • Averted: The popular characters are as smart as the non-popular characters.
  • Enforced: The popular characters are made dumb so that non-popular viewers can feel superior.
  • Lampshaded: "Our football team sure is dim this year."
  • Invoked: Jake thinks he might be stupid. So he tries to become popular in order to compensate.
  • Exploited:
    • The school gravitates toward a kid who is both rich and dumb so they can use him.
    • A Chessmaster decides to use the popular characters, since they're the easiest to fool.
    • After noticing the dumb kids are usually the popular ones, Jill decides to play dumb to become popular.
  • Defied: A popular character spends all night learning trivia to avoid being seen as dumb.
  • Discussed: The characters see a dumb character, and talk about how he'll likely become popular.
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  • Conversed: The characters talk about a popular and dumb character from the show they watched last night.
  • Deconstructed:
    • A popular character fails the year multiple times, and ultimately doesn't finish his education.
    • A society that exalts the Jerk Jock and the Brainless Beauty at the expense of Nerds and the like leads to a Crapsack World run by the worst and most incompetent elements, who proceed to run things into the ground.
    • Because all the intelligent students think charisma is a sign of stupidity, they do not work on it at all. As a result of their poor social skills, they live unsuccessful, unhappy lives.
  • Reconstructed:
    • However, his charisma gets him a successful job despite not having a degree.
    • These dumb popular people are not necessarily actively malicious, eventually catching on to the idea of delegating logistics to cleverer people.
    • One of the dumb popular students says some Simple-Minded Wisdom to one of the nerds about charisma being needed for success, and they take it seriously and either work on their social skills or get a dumb, popular student as a publicist.
  • Played For Laughs: The popular kids say and do ridiculously stupid things, while the other kids all compliment them on it or laugh with them.

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