Slobs Versus Snobs
They are well groomed, clean, stylishly dressed, and act the part of snobbish aristocrats. Be it at a Renaissance court or a slum. They are scruffy, dirty, dressed entirely from the used clothes discount pile, and act like boorish rabble.
They will usually be in close proximity, at least in the same slum, city, or space sector. And of course they fight. The scale of the conflict can be any size, be it a clique vs. clique social power struggle in a school, a street brawl between rival gangs, or two species or even Planets of Hats at war. When cranked Up to Eleven, it can cross into armed revolution, or either one of Kill the Poor or Eat the Rich.
Beyond the superficial dichotomy of this conflict there is one of lifestyle and worldview. The Snobs are epicurean, refined, and educated... but also classist and vain, while Slobs are honest, revelrous and dionysian -- but also violent and dangerous. As a narrative device, Slobs Versus Snobs is notable in that it rarely presents both sides equally—and, more often than not, the Slobs are often presented in a far more sympathetic light than the Snobs.
On the Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty, Snobs would be shiny and Slobs would be gritty.
Compare/see also Elves vs. Dwarves and Fur Against Fang, where the Snobs will be elves or vampires, and the Slobs will be Dwarves or Werewolves respectively. (Though vampire elves and werewolf dwarves aren't out of the question). Nor for that matter Elven Vampire Werewolves.
- A car commercial had a skier and a snowboarder coasting down the slope side by side. The snowboarder shouted "Dweeb!", to which the skier responded "Delinquent!"
Anime and Manga
- In Death Note, this isn't the core of the conflict between Light (snob) and L (slob), but the contrast is certainly played up. Their allies also tend to fit; stylishly dressed Knights Templar vs. Defective Detectives.
- One Piece: The clash of the Marines (Snobs) and the Pirates (Slobs), though we see aversions on both sides. For example, the rough-and-tumble Garp for the Marines and suave and stylish pirates like Sanji or Robin. Played straight with the Celestial Dragons vs—well, everyone else.
- In Beelzebub, this happens when protagonist and his True Companions, who hail from a delinquent ridden Inner-City School, clash with the Absurdly Powerful Student Council of the posh private school they are transferred to.
- The Beano
- This UK comic book had Dennis the Menace (not to be confused with the US version) who was a catapult wielding tearaway against the more nicely bought up Softies.
- Lord Snooty (and his family) versus the Gasworks Gang. Most of Lord Snooty's close friends were also commoners, though; in the first issue, he decides they're more fun than his posh friends.
- The old UK comic book Smash! had a series called "The Swots and The Blots" that was neat preppy kids verses the scruffy troublemakers.
- The Dandy had "The Jocks and the Geordies". Interestingly in this one, the Geordies are the snobs, despite being archetypally cast as the Slobs/the hard guys (even before Viz came on the scene).
- The Nutty had two families living next door to each other, actually called "The Snobs and the Slobs".
- Cor!! had "Ivor Lott and Tony Broke". Sister comic Jackpot had their Distaff Counterparts "Millie O'Naire and Penny Less". When both comics were merged with Buster, the male and female versions teamed up.
- The Toffs and the Toughs: The reader was expected to side with the poor characters (common, as comics sell disproportionately to working class children.) Another similiarly named and themed strip from the same publisher was called Smarty's Toffs and Tatty's Toughs.
- Class Wars: The premise was children of different social classes mixing in the same class at school. The name was later toned down to Top of the Class. In this case, both sides had their moments, but the commoners were more usually the heroes.
- It's a Nice Life: (A comic strip version of The Good Life.) It played up the snobbery of the conservative family and made the self-sufficient family much more loutish.
- Toffee Nose: A hugely "stuck up" girl from a very "common" family and Posh Claude, a character in Cheeky who always put on airs.
- Underworld the vampires all wear stylish, clean black suits and gorgeous sexy cocktail dresses when at leisure, and leather trenchcoats when hunting werewolves. Their hair is always flat and oily, curls are always cosmetic, neat, and hang down. Werewolves on the other hand are always in grungy brown leather, shirts that look like they haven't been washed in months, and have hair that generally defies combs to come near.
- Meatballs has the slobs from Camp North Star versus the snobs from Camp Mohawk. Bill Murray gives an iconic speech just before the climactic showdown admiting that beating the snobs won't matter, since even in defeat they'd still be rich.
- Caddyshack has this as its tagline. [dead link]
- Inglourious Basterds cranks this trope to eleven. On one side, a team of Heroic Sociopaths. On the other, the most Wicked Cultured Nazis of all time.
- The snazzy restaurant scene from Ferris Buellers Day Off, from the incredibly snooty maitre d', to Cameron crunching on the ice from his water. However, this is more a case of age and attitude than class, since all the main characters come from wealthy families.
- In O.C. and Stiggs, it's the lower-middle-class title characters versus the nouveau riche Schwabs. (The rivalry turns up in the original story, but only in the film is it the central plot.)
- The title characters from The Blues Brothers find one of their old band members working as maitre d' at a fancy restaurant. They act like total slobs and threaten to come back every day unless the guy comes with them.
- La vie est un long fleuve tranquille by Etienne Chatiliez combines this with Switched At Birth.
- As in the original novel, Eloi and Morlocks in The Time Machine.
- In Braveheart, the English are led by sophisticated Anglo-Norman aristocrats, while the Scots are lead by hairy, kilted Highlanders. Somewhat subverted, in that the character of William Wallace is well-educated and speaks several languages.
- The Marx Brothers were practically the kings of this trope. Every movie was basically an excuse for them to infiltrate society and make the aristocrats suffer.
- The House of Yes has a one-man slob army in the form of Leslie, having to square off against her fiance's horribly stuck-up, wealthy family.
- Demolition Man: The slobs (led by Edgar Friendly) vs. snobs (enslaved by Dr. Cocteau.) And while the titular Demolition Man identifies more with the slobs, he tells them "you are going to get a lot more clean" as opposed to telling the snobs "you're going to get a little dirty".
- In Out Cold, a group of working class snowboarders attempt to save their beloved small town from a businessman who wants to turn it into a snooty resort town similar to Aspen, Colorado.
- Pretty much all of The Mighty Ducks films. The third one really plays it up as the Ducks get scholarships for a prestigious school and instantly butt heads with the current students there.
- Inverted in Troop Beverly Hills, in which the children of fantastically rich parents are the underdogs, while a militant troop of middle-class jerks are the villains.
- In Thud, the werewolf Angua has to team up with a vampire—which she resents. Werewolves hate vampires, because vampires have style, and make werewolves look like low-class mutts. As Carrot points out, she's gorgeous and doesn't have anything to worry about. Nevertheless, it's something that's ingrained into the psyche of the two species.
- The wizards are generally the Snobs to the Slobs of the city watch, adventurers, or ordinary Morporkians. Due to the nature of the books' changing viewpoints, this is seen from both sides. In a wizard-centric book, the Wizards will be fat and goofy, but capable and wise, whereas the citizens and guards will be an ignorant rabble who doesn't know what they're messing with. In a commoner-centric book, the wizards will seem like a load of pompous, out-of-touch bureaucrats while the commoners are the ones holding everything together.
- Unseen Academicals, which focused evenly on the wizards and their working-class servants, proved there's some truth to both viewpoints.
- Hogfather featured an argument between the Senior Wrangler and the Dean, based on the fact that the Dean's family hung up pillowcases for the Hogfather, while the Wrangler's hung up very small socks. The Dean's family also bought their holly instead of collecting it themselves, and had "la-di-da posh dinner in the evening" and a big Hogswatch tree in the hall.
"I can't help it if my family had money," the Dean said, and this might have defused the situation had he not added, "And standards."
- The Outsiders: With upper-class Socs (Socials) vs. lower-class Greasers. Neither group is entirely unified.
- The family rivalry between the impoverished Weasleys and the high-society Malfoys in Harry Potter.
- The Weasleys are also often compared to the Dursleys, which is perhaps a better example of this trope. The Weasleys are a scruffy bunch with a kooky house and an overgrown garden. The Dursleys live in an overly tidy normal house and are generally obsessed with appearances.
- In H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, there's the conflict between the ineffectual Eloi and the savage Morlocks.
- In Jumping the Broom, the main conflict is between Jason's working-class mother, Pam, and his fiancee Sabrina's wealthy family. Sabrina's mother Claudine sees Pam as low-class, and Pam sees Claudine as uppity.
- Robert Westall's Futuretrack Five has very clear elements of this. The aristocratic, smug Ests are the Snobs and deliberately segregate and control the scruffy, violent, uneducated Unnems.
- A very mild version plays out between Peter Wingfield and Roger Trembling in Fred, Alice and Aunty Lou from the Break of Dark anthology. Wingfield is unkempt, scruffily dressed, a chronic smoker and lives in a dilapidated old house full of mouldering antiques and dying pot plants, which Trembling refers to as "The Haunted Mansion." Roger lives in an ultra-modern villa with Modernist furnishings and chrome kitchen fittings, works for a computer company and plays squash every week. Peter refers to his house as "Mission Control."
Live Action Television
- Who, Sir? Me, Sir?: A sports contest between snobs from a private school and plucky underdogs who attend The Good Old British Comp.
- The Twilight Zone episode "Spur of the Moment" used this setup where the girl is about to marry the rich boy, but the passionate poor scruffy guy ends up talking her into marrying him - years later we see Scruffy is a lazy bum who makes her life miserable.
- Frasier: This is the central conflict between Frasier, Niles and Martin; the boys are stuffy epicures who are frequently dismissive of their down-to-earth, slightly slobby father.
- Cheers contrasted blue-collar characters like Sam, Carla, Cliff, and Norm with the more upscale characters like Diane, Frasier, Lilith, Robin, etc. Then there's Rebecca, who's essentially a Slob trying to ascend to the Snob world (and failing repeatedly).
- The The Young Ones episode "Bambi" features this. The cast represent "Scumbag College" on "University Challenge" and are set against the snobs from Footlights College, Oxbridge .
- Fresh Prince of Bel Air used this in some of the earlier episodes as a source of conflict between Will and his cousin Carlton. As the show wore on though, Carlton got dumber and dorkier until there was no more point in conflicting with the paragon-of-coolness Will.
- Magnum, P.I. is specific version that is more Magnum's brand of slobbery vs Higgins' brand of snobbery. Magnum has no problem with rich people or cultured people per se (several are his clients after all). And for that matter Higgin's snobbery in general, though more ostentatious is endurable. But Magnum and Higgins are always goading each other about slobbery vs snobbery.
- True Blood plays with this trope in later seasons:
- In season 2, Mary Ann Forrester and her dirt-eating revelers are often positioned in direct contrast with the more "refined" vampires, particularly with Queen Sophie Ann.
- Season 3 appears to be going for the full-on war: Sam's birth family are portrayed as "trashy", sitting around shirtless drinking beer in the middle of the day. Promos show the Were community as Badass Bikers, contrasted with the King of Mississippi's "equestrian toffs" aesthetic.
- In Red Dwarf we have Rimmer, who keeps his underpants on coathangers, and Lister, who, well...
Lister: No way are these my boxer shorts! These bend?
- Middle-class snob Thelma and working-class reverse-snob Terry in Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?, with poor, working-class-with-asperations Bob caught in the middle.
- Steptoe and Son pitted the unreconstructed slobbishness of Albert Steptoe against the aspirational snobbishness of his son Harold.
- In The Cape Scales, a lower-class British smuggler, gets into a feud with the villain Chess partially because he feels Chess and his business associates are looking down on him.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation had the episode "Up the Long Ladder" based on the trope.
- Inverted throughout the series with Starfleet (Snobs) vs. Klingons (Slobs).
- In Babylon 5, Centauri are snobs, Narn are slobs.
- The short-lived ABC sitcom It's All Relative centered around the conflict between two sets of in-laws, one a blue-collar Irish Catholic couple and the other a pair of well-heeled gay professionals.
- Yes, Dear had a bit of this, with uptight yuppies Greg and Kim contrasted with the more laid-back and downscale Jimmy and Christina.
- Dharma and Greg had Dharma and her hippie parents frequently butting heads with Greg's rich WASP parents.
- Happens most of the time in soap operas especially in the Philippines and a few other countries. Expect a few disgruntled viewers who find it cliched and melodramatic, though, although the masses are pretty much used to it.
- In Firefly there is the refined, upper class Simon Tam who is forced onto a space ship full of outlaws while running from the law. One of the subplots has Simon trying to adjust to living with the "slobs" and especially his conflict with barbaric and uneducated Jayne.
- Parodied in an episode of Mr. Show in which a sketch about buddhist monks suddenly warps into a slobs-versus-snobs olympiad between the monks and rich kids from a neighboring fat camp.
- Greek: Kappa Tau (slobs) vs. Omega Chi (snobs).
- The Vampire Diaries, with a single notable familial exception ( the Lockwoods), portrays the Fur Against Fang fight as this.
- The Tates and the Campbells of Soap.
- "Respectable Street" by XTC.
- "The Eton Rifles" by The Jam. Paul Weller was inspired to write the song by an incident in Slough, where Eton College cadets heckled a Right To Work protest march. The protesters, thinking they could put 'posh schoolboys' in their place, were provoked into physical violence against the cadets, only to be outclassed by the cadets' military training.
- "Whatareya" by This Is Serious Mum (which translates the trope name into Australian as "Yobbos" and "Wankers"
- Shows up in rival subcultures: Punk (slobs) vs metal (snobs), rockers (slobs) vs mods (snobs), and so on.
- A Streetcar Named Desire, with southern belle Blanche vs. workingman Stanley. At first, Stanley looks like a figure of liberty, but then we see that he has an insane obsession with bringing everyone down to his level.
- Our American Cousin, the play Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was shot, was an early example, featuring a boorish American who has to meet with his snooty aristocratic British relatives to claim an inheritance.
- The New Zealand play Foreskin's Lament, where the main character, a non-conformist liberal, has to deal with his reactionary rugby-mad mates.
- Wario (slob) VS Count Cannoli and Carpaccio (snobs) in Wario Master of Disguise.
- The rivalry between Half Lifes Black Mesa Research Facility, who generally behave like legitimate scientists, and Portals Aperture Science, who, in the words of their founder, are "just throwing science at the wall and seeing what sticks".
- Though aesthetically Aperture's clean white Apple-esque everything look plays the snob while Black Mesa's actual science going on look plays the slob. In the older areas of Aperture seen in Portal2, we see that they designed according to whatever looked "cool" for the given time period.
- One of the many problems between Gil and Tarvek in Girl Genius. Tarvek is a total snob, and sees Gil as a complete slob, thanks in part to a few overlapping adventures in Paris. Gil simply sees Tarvek as a priggish wet-blanket.
- SpongeBob SquarePants once fought a "cleanliness versus sloppiness" war with Patrick.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Great Divide", there were the neat and snobbish Gan Jin tribe who had a long term feud with the slobbish Zhang ,stemming a single incident of a massive misunderstanding. The clean/dirty issue was just an expression of their feud. In fact, it's possible they became clean and dirty to distinguish themselves from each other.. This rivalry caused problems when the two groups had to cross a huge canyon together.
- "Gan Jing" is Mandarin for "clean" and "Zhang" is Mandarin for "dirty", which makes the names for the tribes...somewhat less than imaginative.
- The Simpsons episode "A Tale of Two Springfields" had Homer divide the town in such a feud...because half the town's phone numbers had a new area code. (The "rich" part of town kept the old area code while the rest had to learn a new one.)
- This trope was portrayed inconsistently in the case of the "Springfield versus Shelbyville" ongoing town rivalry. In a relatively early episode, it is revealed that the current inhabitants of Springfield are descended from wholesome, all-American frontier stock (well, by the show's standards, anyway) while the Shelbyvillians are descended from a renegade band of pioneers who broke off from Jebediah Springfield's party because he would not allow them to practice incest; the "inevitable" result is that the modern-day Springfieldians are normal (again, by the show's standards) and the Shelbyvillians are inbred hillbillies who view the Springfieldians as over-civilized weaklings. But in a much later episode, the stereotypes are reversed and now the suddenly "sophisticated" Shelbyvillians scorn the Springfieldians for being "uncultured" and stupid. (The fact that all of the show's stereotypes had been ratcheted Up to Eleven by that point certainly didn't help the confusion.)
- They Saved Lisa's Brain could also count, but that's more 'The smart people fo Springfield vs. the idiots of Springfield'.
- The entire premise of The Oblongs was this, with the dirty (and physically deformed) Valley at odds with the wealthy and immaculate Hills.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: The Kids Next Door are the heroic slobs; the Delightful Children from Down the Lane are the villainous snobs (raised by the even more snobbish Father and Grandfather).
- The Oz Kids
- Phineas and Ferb: Phineas and Candace Flynn and Isabella are the American slobs; Ferb and Eliza Fletcher and the cousions are the British snobs.
- Applejack and Rarity had a feud like this that lasted a whole episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, though the two are still somewhat at odds with one another.
- This was actually pretty Serious Business in the ethnic/political/religious strife in Seventeenth century Britain. The High Anglicans and Catholics were on the "snob" side while the dissenters on the slob side. The former favored more church pageantry and the latter less (hint: "high church" people liked high buildings and "low church" ones like low ones). It also included the Old Money on the snob side and the New Money on the slob side, as well as the farmers on the snob side and the townsfolk on the slob side. (Apparently they went with whomever was the big dog on their particular turf and thus directly related to old money vs. new money.) The Celts had more chance of being snobs and the English of being slobs (though part of that may have been the conquered taking an opportunity to gang up on the conqueror while he was busy). Finally the King was on the snob side and the Parliament on the slob side. In those days of course both were equally snobbish, however as Parliament drew apart in more democratic days and even then had the Commons it fits if you squeeze it.
- Speaking of that, the "Roundheads" got their name because they shaved close whereas "Cavaliers" by contrast were vain enough about their hair to be French courtiers (presumably both made concessions to the rigors of campaign life in this general statement about appearance). In other words the ideology of the time was so tense that even haircuts were a matter of Slobs Versus Snobs.