Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Two Sides To Everything (and a bit in the middle) Structuralism & Binary Opposition

This week's lecture focussed on 'binary opposition', a term which I was unfamiliar with. Ivan began explaining the term using the idea that humans think in halves - what something is and (more importantly) what it isn't. Many oppositions imply or are used in such a way that privileges one of the terms, creating a sort of hierarchy.
I like the idea that nothing can entirely exist at one extreme of the scale - whilst the majority of us would say that Hitler was an evil man, I'm pretty sure that his dog and girlfriend liked him. This is an extreme example but it helps to illustrate my point. In Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange', there is no denying that the character of Alex DeLarge exists at the less favoured end of the scale. He is a teenager obsessed with rape, murder and theft, or as Alex himself calls it 'ultraviolence'. Everything about him suggests that he is an evil person, however I did not find myself hating his character. Throughout the film, Alex refers to the viewers as "my friends" and himself as "your humble narrator" which helps to establish a relationship and almost win the viewer over to his side.
This got me thinking that maybe Alex also belongs in this anomalous zone. There is no doubt that he is not a good person, but I would argue that the majority of people watching this film would not dismiss him as 'evil'. 

In my opinion the idea of the 'zone of anomaly', the space between these two opposites, is far more interesting than either extremes of the scale. This is the area from which we get monsters, vampires, mummies, mermaids, zombies and superheroes. I think it would also be safe to say here that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are probably the ultimate in 'anomalous zone' characters. Im not exaclty sure which opposites they lie between but they definitely belong in some sort of 'grey' area. 

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