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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Analysis of John Sloop's Cultural Criticism of Caster Semenya's Win

John Sloop ventured in media outlets of multiples countries, in order to do a cultural criticism of Caster Semenya's 800 meter win in the 2009 World Championships. Sloop discussed multiple ethnic signifiers that he found within the media; he even asserted that multiple critique forms can be applied to Semenya's case, including race analysis, feminist critique, and transgender/ transsexual analysis. I found Sloop's discussion of other countries critiquing "Black Africa" to be most interesting because it reminded me of Hall's discussion of the oppressed and empowered: "Racism and ethnocentrism have been forces plaguing almost every society and region of the world, as differences in appearance, language, and customs have been used to designate groups of us and them, with the unique characteristics of them perceived as a threat to the security and interests of us." Sloop discussed the "white media" in the eyes of those in Africa, who felt that Semenya's amazing accomplishment was being overshadowed by racist comments being made by the "white media." Some, according to Sloop, even implied that they were trying to "keep Blacks down." This shows a type of us versus them mentality being created, where those in Africa represent us and the "white media" represent them. The opposing media is being defined as them because they are threatening the interests of the African people, specifically by trying to overshadow the win of Caster Semenya. The Africans, being the ones that are opposed in this situation, are us. By Sloop identifying the views of both sides, it is easy to see how the Africans, despite Semenya winning the 800 meter dash, can be viewed as subaltern, while the media is viewed as superior.

1 comment:

  1. Another curiosity related to this topic is the "us" and "them" binary within South Africa itself. As Dr. Sloop mentioned, the support for Semenya in a culture that is quite anti-gay/lesbian is something to be noted. When a figure such as Semenya appears and represents a nation in such a fashion, the manner in which nationalism trumps other opinions speaks volumes. Furthermore, the binary within in relation to the global "us" and "them" makes for an interesting analysis. The fact that the nation has rallied around Semenya is telling sign of progressive social changes in a conservative culture.