that they both stress how crucial it is to relate their terms to their opposite, or Other.
Dyer claims that one can explain whiteness with “reference to that which is not white, as
if only non-whiteness can give whiteness any substance” (736).
In accordance, Said
notes that “The Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image,
idea, personality, experience” (87).
Dyer and Said both agree that it is impossible to
reach a definition without a discourse that includes comparison.
One such comparison that Dyer uses in “White” is the relation of power between
white and black characters, which he analyzes in three films:
(Hurst, 1955), and
Night of the Living Dead
is the most
explicit paradigm of this relation of power.
The protagonist, Julie, is a white Southern
Belle who has a black maid, Zette.
Black Zette obeys every request that white Julie
It is Julie’s duty as a powerful white woman to be proper and not call attention to
When she acts out against this custom and parades herself in a promiscuous red
dress, her peers as well as her fiancé, Pres, frown upon her.
Julie consequently offers the
colored dress to Zette, who gladly accepts it.
Zette has no reason not to; she is
permanently a lowly black servant who does not need to impress her peers with white
Zette can act freely because she has no position at the top of the power ladder
Dyer says that this “associates whiteness with order, rationality, rigidity,
qualities brought out by the contrast with black disorder, irrationality and looseness,”
differentiating the properness of white superiority from the loud ruckus of black
This statement is very similar to Robert Stam’s reference to Said’s
argument in “Film and the Postcolonial,” in which he says that “the ideological