Claude Levi-Strauss introduced the notion of binary oppositions as a useful way to consider the production of meaning within narratives and it also joins in with character theory as characters have different roles. He argued that all construction of meaning was dependent on these oppositions, these oppositions also appear in most films. However, these oppositions don’t even have to be between people, they can be objects or states. Examples of binary oppositions found in films might be:
Good vs. Evil
Male vs. Female
Humanity vs. Technology
Nature vs. Industrialisation
East vs. West
Dark vs. Light
Dirt vs. cleanliness
Sane vs. Insane 1
These are used quite a lot in horror or superhero films, such as Batman vs The Joker. The most popular binary opposition is Good vs Evil, which is used in practically every film. Sometimes these opposites attract or become allies. Binary Opposition is a good plot point between character, it could even overlap with other theories such as Narrative theory as the characters could have caused the disequilibrium. Sometimes there can even be more than one opposition between characters, as the Batman vs The Joker is Good vs Evil and Sane vs Insane. 2
- AbiBecBill (2010) AS media studies foundation portfolio unit G321. Available at: http://abibecbill.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/claude-levi-strausss-oppositions.html (Accessed: 4 May 2016).
- Mabbett, L. (2013) Levi strauss Theory. Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/LaurenMabs/levi-strauss-theory-29577382 (Accessed: 4 May 2016).
- Sangregorio, M. (2015) Geek chorus #2 – Batman vs Joker. Available at: http://hd1jump.com/batman_vs_joker/ (Accessed: 4 May 2016).