Monday, November 9, 2009

Prepare for domination

After reading the essay, "White" and trying to figure out exactly what Dyer is saying, I believe his main argument is that to be white is to not be oppressed, not be marginalized and not be subordinate, and thus be depicted as "normal". Since whiteness is an "empty space: (142), it becomes extremely difficult for a white audience to discern what qualities are associated with being white. Dyer goes on to describe how whiteness can only be established through what it is not, specifically when its "difference from blackness is inescapable and at issue"(144). While Dyer uses the cinematic examples of Jezebel, Simba, and Night of the Living Dead, I think a more modern example that illustrates this binarism is Bring It On.

In Bring It On, Torrance is the blonde, white, newly appointed captain of her cheerleading team in suburban California. Shortly after her election, Torrance and her teammates discover that their award-winning routines were actually stolen from the Clovers in East Compton. Not only do the predominately black East Compton Clovers perform the cheerleading routines better and with more of a hip hop style than their white counterparts, but they're also going to regionals to compete with the Toros. Something they've never done in the past due to their economic hardships. After a series of confrontations, the competition between the two teams intensifies, and after hearing that the Clovers might not make it to regionals after all, Torrance decides to give the other team the money in order to get there, which the Clovers refuse. While in the end, both teams triumph over adversity, (the Clovers make it to the championship and win! and the Toros win second place, but realize they did a great job for having everything go wrong in the process) Bring It On defines the Toros (or the white team) as the opposite of the Clovers. It is shown that the Clovers have rhythm, are poor and refuse to take charity, therefore, though it is never directly addressed, the Toros are boring, affluent and privileged. Furthermore, the female cheerleaders on the Clovers team are often depicted as loud, brash and violent such as when Missy takes Torrance to the Clovers game to prove that the cheers were stolen. In comparison, Torrance and Missy seem sweet, apologetic and helpless, though nothing they have done on their own attest to this.

Though the message of Bring It On is to try your hardest and always believe in yourself, it is seen more through the struggles of the Toros, while the Clovers are there to " play an explicit and relevant part in the conflict that arises between the principal white characters" (Dyer, 145).


  1. This is a great example! I think it's really interesting that even though the Clovers are technically the "good guys" when you really examine the situation, the narrative discourse of the film implies otherwise.

  2. I had totally forgotten about "Bring It On." Great example. The characters in this movie, the "Clovers," greatly adhere to Dyer's article. The whites (the favorites) are defeated by the blacks (poor, underdogs) who use their characteristically black qualities to win the championship and aid in the white characters, "Toros," reality and morality check.