CTS – Telling Difference

Binary Oppositions

The creation of “otherness” (also known as othering) consists of applying a principle that allows individuals to be classified into two hierarchical groups, US and THEM.

Binary Oppositions: the system by which, in language and thought, two theoretical opposites are strictly defined and set off against one another.

Meaning as construct by BINARY OPPOSITIONS: “one is the absence of the other” OR they are understood as “oppositional“.

Man vs Woman

This can commonly be seen in most aspects of society but is especially prevalent as there is typically a pay gap between men and women for fulfilling the same or similar roles in businesses. However historically this divide could be seen say with women getting the right to vote.


Good vs Evil

An ancient concept, it is especially prevalent in fiction like Star Wars where the whole point is to tell a story set within the archetypal heroes journey. The struggle of Good vs Evil is symbolized by the Light Side (typically the Jedi) and the Dark Side (typically the Sith).


White vs Black

Racism is, sadly, still prevalent in quite a few areas of society. Although it exists in many forms some famous or obvious examples could be the Klu Klux Klan in America, lynching black men and women, or Republican Presidential Candidates in America at the moment such as Donald Trump or Ted Cruz who equate all immigrants and people of colour to rapists, criminals and murderers and, of course, slavery.


Culture vs Nature

Civilized vs Barbaric

Human vs Animal

Day vs Night

Light vs Dark


David Batchelor (2000, p.22) suggests that “colour has been the object of extreme prejudice in Western culture”.

This prejudice makes colour out to be the property of some “foreign” body – usually the feminine, the oriental, the primitive, the infantile, the vulgar, the queer or the pathological”. (ibid, pp.22-23).

In this formulation white is safe and color is dangerous.

The Matter of Whiteness by Richard Dyer

“Racial imagery is central to the organization of the modern world. At what cost regions and countries export their goods, whose voices are listened to at international gatherings, who bombs and who is bombed, who gets job, housing, access to health care and education, what cultural activities are subsidized and sold, in what terms they are validated – these are all largely inextricable from racial imagery”

“The sense of whites as non-raced is most evident in the absence of reference to whiteness in the habitual speech and writing of white people in the West. We (whites) will speak of, say, the blackness or Chineseness of friends, neighbors, colleagues, customers or clients, and it may be in the most genuinely friendly and accepting manner, but we don’t mention the whiteness of the white people we know. An old-style white comedian will often start a joke “There’s this bloke walking down the street and he meets this black geezer” never thinking to race the bloke as well as the geezer”

“This assumption that white people are just people, which is not far off saying that whites are people whereas other colors are something else, is endemic to white culture. Some of the sharpest criticism of it has been aimed at those who would think themselves the least racist or white supremacist”

Racialiazed Stereotypes in Popular Culture

Bob Marley t shirt

The Orient and the Occident

WEST = Modern, Rational, Civilized, Developed, Normal

ORIENT = Timeless, Superstitious/Irrational, Barbaric, Traditional, Strange

Orientalism & Exoticism


Are the five basic stereotypes identified in Donald Bogle’s 1973 work still alive and well in 21st century popular culture?

How would you summarise RIchard Dyer’s argument about the problems of whiteness and what is your position to this question?

Cultural appropriation and exoticism: for example, when is wearing a FIrst Nations feather head dress offensive and why?