Not like them

Sometimes, it's more important that the speaker show who or what they are not like.

For example, this is what a desktop Windows computer looked like in 1998:

PC 1998

So how did Apple demonstrate their character when they advertised their new G3 iMacs that year?

ad iMac G3 no beige

How does this ad try to show that the speaker is not like someone or something else?

This old image doesn't do the G3 justice; they were gorgeous juicy fruit computers.

But by rejecting the colour beige, Apple positions itself in opposition to blandness, mediocrity, and lack of imagination or excitement.

ad iMac G3 yum

Apple played up this contrast for several years in a long series of Mac vs PC TV ads.

(This is a supercut; don't worry about watching them all! You'll get the idea after the first 2-3 ads, though it's worth jumping ahead to see how over-the-top the ads became over time.)

How does this ad campaign try to show that the speaker is not like someone or something else?

Over 66 ads, the Mac and PC are contrasted in every way possible: creativity vs routine, play vs work, security vs viruses, compatibility vs incompatibility.... the list goes on.

Ironically, in the context of the campaign, the PC is actually the funnier, more entertaining character.

The creative team could see this, and they had to be very careful not to overplay their hand and reject PC too much, in case it made the audience resent Apple and sympathise with PC.

"The writing wasn't easy. The whole "Mac vs. PC" thing, it turned out, was tricky. And could easily backfire if "confident and capable versus insecure and flawed" read more like "smart versus stupid"—or worse, "smug versus lovably inept." The nuances of tone would be everything."

(From an account of the creation of the campaign.)

Sometimes, in contrasting themselves with someone else, the speaker can become rude or even hostile.

For example, here is an account of Oliver Cromwell, a Puritan military leader, yelling at remains of the British Parliament during the English civil war in the mid-1600s:

"You call yourselves a Parliament," continues my Lord General in clear blaze of conflagration: "You are no Parliament: I say you are no Parliament! Some of you are drunkards," and his eye flashes on poor Mr. Chaloner, an official man of some value, addicted to the bottle; “some of you are—" and he glares into Harry Marten, and the poor Sir Peter who rose to order, lewd livers both; "living in open contempt of God’s Commandments. Following your own greedy appetites, and the Devil’s Commandments."

"Corrupt unjust persons; scandalous to the profession of the Gospel; how can you be a Parliament for God’s People? Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God — go!"

How does this speech try to show that the speaker is not like someone else?

Cromwell doesn't talk about himself, but in abusing the Parliament he implies they are what he is not: drunk, greedy, living in defiance of God's Commandments, etc.

(It's worth noting that nobody really knows what Cromwell said to the Parliament. The record of Cromwell's speech was destroyed by Parliament after his death—they did not like him! And while this version/snippet of his speech makes him sound super strict, he was in some ways quite moderate.)

Here's another political example. In the aftermath of World War II, political leaders established the United Nations and began drafting a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an ethical document that would list rights to which every human being is entitled, no matter who they are or where they are born.

Drafting this Declaration was laborious and difficult because it required agreement from so many different people representing different nations, some of whom were still fighting with each other.

In particular, there was tension brewing between the America and Russia.

Against that backdrop, Eleanor Roosevelt, made a speech in which she emphasised the difference between the two nations:

The Declaration has come from the Human Rights Commission with unanimous acceptance except for four abstentions—the U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia. The reason for this is a fundamental difference in the conception of human rights as they exist in these states and in certain other Member States in the United Nations.

In the discussion before the Assembly, I think it should be made crystal clear what these differences are and tonight I want to spend a little time making them clear to you.

We must not be confused about what freedom is. Basic human rights are simple and easily understood: freedom of speech and a free press; freedom of religion and worship; freedom of assembly and the right of petition; the right of men to be secure in their homes and free from unreasonable search and seizure and from arbitrary arrest and punishment.

We must not be deluded by the efforts of the forces of reaction to prostitute the great words of our free tradition and thereby to confuse the struggle. Democracy, freedom, human rights have come to have a definite meaning to the people of the world which we must not allow any nation to so change that they are made synonymous with suppression and dictatorship.

There are basic differences that show up even in the use of words between a democratic and a totalitarian country. For instance “democracy” means one thing to the U.S.S.R. and another to the U.S.A. and, I know, in France. I have served since the first meeting of the nuclear commission on the Human Rights Commission, and I think this point stands out clearly.

How does this speech try to show that the speaker is not like someone or something else?

This is only a snippet of a long speech, but we can see hints of how Eleanor Roosevelt is trying to define her character as aligned with the majority of nations—accepting a simple, clear definition of freedom—and unlike the U.S.S.R., who want to define rights in a way that restricts freedom rather than expands it.

(If you want more facts about this speech, there is background here.)

You have a try. Using this image as inspiration, imagine a speaker is trying to establish themselves as unlike another party—not the audience, but some other competitor or common enemy.

How might they do it? What would they say or how would they present themselves?

an animated aubergine playfully bullying a stallholder in a bustling fantasy marketplace

Using this image as inspiration, how might a speaker establish themselves as unlike another party? (Not the audience, but some other competitor or common enemy.)