Who was Jacques Derrida?
• Jacques Derrida was a
French philosopher. His
work is mostly
associated with post-
structuralism and post-
• His work has had
literary studies etc.
• Différance plays on the fact that ‘differer’ in French
means both to differ and to defer.
• Saussure stated that a sign is made meaningful by its
location in a system of differences. Derrida took this a
step further by saying that the meaning if also always
deferred, and that it is both always present and absent.
• An example I’ve found of this is that if you look through
the dictionary for the word ‘letter’, you get five
meanings. If you pick one of these, such as ‘message’,
you then get more meanings, so the meaning has been
deferred. Because the meaning leads you to other
meanings, there can be no ultimate meaning, as it is
constantly being deferred.
• Derrida once said that, since the dawn of time, people have thought in
binary opposites (for example, white/black, fantasy/reality, life/death).
Within these oppositions, there is always one dominant thing; neither can
• 'In a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the
peaceful coexistence of a vis-à-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One
of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the
upper hand‘ – Jacques Derrida.
• Basically, he’s saying that two opposite things will never be equal.
• Derrida then goes on the question the dominance of the dominant, and
reverses the hierarchy.
• 'To deconstruct the opposition, first of all, is to overturn the hierarchy at a
• This ‘violent hierarchy’ system is part of Derrida’s deconstruction theory.
• He uses it mostly to describe speech and writing; speech is considered the
‘natural’ way of communication and writing as a supplement. Writing
should not be used as a main function, only to ensure presence.
• Anything which states that it has one single
meaning is an example of ‘fallen culture’.
• Basically, anything which goes against what
Derrida said is ‘fallen culture’.
• This is saying that, in Eden, in creation, there is
interpretation; the negotiation of human
• I think this means that, in Eden, Adam and Eve
became self-aware and interpreted
themselves as human beings. This shows that
interpretation has been in human nature from
the very beginning of human life.
• I literally have no idea if that’s right.
• Derrida was a very confusing chap.
Derrida in relation to Anchorman…
• There is some of the violent hierarchy theory
in Anchorman, with the imbalance of power
between the binary opposites of men and
women. The men are the dominants
throughout most of the film; however, they do
flip the dominance (as Derrida suggests in his
theory should be done) and have the woman
take control and come out on top.
• Derrida blasts anything Saussure said out of
the water, basically, saying that nothing has
real meaning. This is quite a hard concept to
apply to film/TV (it might not be, I might just