In Interpersonal Communications, it is important to understand how stereotyping can affect close relationships. When an individual uses stereotyping in a negative way, this in return negatively affects the relationship. This can lead to major problems in the long run. In Sweet Home Alabama, it is easy to see that false stereotypes lead to judgments reflecting badly on relationships. The clip shown of Sweet Home Alabama starts off with Melanie Carmichael, a fashion designer who is about to have her first runway show.
After the runway show she has to go with her boyfriend, Andrew, to an event involving his mother, the mayor of New York City. On the way, Andrew surprises her with an engagement proposal. Although she says yes, she asks to keep it a secret until she can visit her parents. He agrees to let her visit home by herself to break the good news to them, before letting it become a public announcement. This is until his mom notices the engagement ring on Melanie’s finger and freaks out. Pictures of the three of them spread to all of the tabloids saying they’re engaged!
She takes the first plane back to Alabama. This is when we find out that she actually has a husband, Jake, who refuses to sign the divorce papers. Although she is determined to get him to sign the papers, he still turns her down. He calls the sheriff and Melanie gets sent to jail where she has to call her parents. Her dad picks her up, and she tells them about the engagement. Melanie’s parents do not seem to approve, as they have not seen her since she left Jake seven years ago. They still think that her and Jake should be together. Many things can lead to a false judgment on another person.
One term in particular that often leads to judgment and interpersonal communication problems is stereotyping. Stereotyping is to take a general characteristic of a certain group, and assume that every individual that belongs to that group takes on that characteristic. People stereotype because it simplifies the process of perception. Once you find out that a person belongs to a certain group, it’s easier to just assume they take on the implied characteristics that go with that group to form an easier impression. This often leads to problems, because it “leads us to form flawed impressions of others” (McCornack, 2010, p. 00). An example of this is the idea that all African Americans are criminals. A person that is stereotypical would see an African American on the street and be scared that they are going to mug them. As you can see, this hurts the process of interpersonal communication. It hurts the process because if someone judges everyone they meet based on a stereotype, it will be hard for them to connect with anyone. It will also be difficult to for interpersonal relationships with others. In one specific scene of Sweet Home Alabama, Melanie has just arrived at Jakes house to ask him to sign the divorce papers.
After she says that she needs them signed so that she can get on her way and go home, he refuses. He tells her to go home and see her parents before he even will consider talking about signing the papers. He then goes inside as she replies, “Jake, you dumb stubborn redneck hick, the only reason you won’t sign these papers is because I want you to! ” He exclaims, “WRONG! The only reason I ain’t signing is because you’ve turned into some hoity toity Yankee bitch, and I’d like nothing more than to piss you off! ” Throughout this whole ordeal, the two are making facial expressions depicting anger and annoyance.
Also they are extremely verbally aggressive towards each other. In this scene, both Melanie and Jake use stereotypes against each other. Melanie calls Jake a redneck hick, saying that he is stubborn and stupid. This could be considered a stereotype because the label redneck hick is often associated with being stupid and hard headed. In the heat of the moment, she uses this to relieve anger and insult Jake. He then rebuttals by calling her a Yankee bitch and saying she has become hoity toity. People from the north or “Yankees” often have the reputation of being arrogant and rude.
Jake is calling her a hoity toity Yankee bitch because he thinks that since she moved away she has become someone she’s not. Although they used to be in love and married they use these hurtful stereotypes to get their point across. The point of the stereotype usage is to hurt the other and the outcome is anger and even a little hurt. Melanie and Jake’s communication was competent in some areas, while incompetent in others. When it comes to appropriateness, they would both be incompetent. In the situation that they are in, both should be calm and acting like adults.
Although many divorces get ugly, initially signing the papers should generally be done in a civilized manner. Instead they both would be considered as having low- self monitors because they are just stating exactly what is on their mind. However, in terms of effectiveness they were both competent in their instrumental goal. Melanie gets it across very clearly that she wants Jake to sign the papers, while he makes it clear that he doesn’t plan on signing them. For the couple’s self-presentational goals they are clear that they do not like each other very much when they begin fighting.
Melanie shows that she wants Jake to sign the papers so she can get on with her life. She wants to break the connection between them and she attempts to, but fails at her relational goals when Jake won’t sign the papers. He succeeds at his relational goals in that he does not want to give in and sign the papers ending their marriage. When it comes to ethics, they were both extremely hostile and over exaggerated leading to incompetency in this category of interpersonal communication. In order to have had more competent communication, Melanie should have been calm and composed when asking Jake to sign the papers.
When he began to refuse, she should have reasoned with him and gotten him to agree without using judgmental words towards each other. As shown in Sweet Home Alabama, stereotyping others can lead to false judgments and even hurt feelings. This portrayed in the scene that I chose to analyze. Melanie and Jake made false stereotypes about each other by calling one another hurtful names that did not apply. This taught me that although it is just easier to assume stereotypes are true, you should not always be so quick to judge. paper 1 grade sheet introduction (4 pts. ) Did you describe the purpose of your paper?
Did you mention the concept you will be analyzing? Did you adequately describe what happened in the movie excerpt? introduction4 pts. possible_____ body (28 pts. ) Did you clearly and correctly define and explain the course concept you selected? Was your explanation complete enough for the sake of understanding the later analysis? course concept explanation7 pts. possible_____ Did you give a concise, yet vivid, description of the relevant scene(s) you selected for analysis? Was your explanation of the communication behaviors accurate and detailed with respect to the relevant verbal and nonverbal messages? cene & communication description7 pts. possible_____ Was your application and analysis of the course concept complete, thorough, and accurate? Did you discuss how the communication impacted relational outcomes between the characters? interpretation & analysis7 pts. possible_____ Was your evaluation of interpersonal communication competence insightful? Did you address appropriateness, effectiveness, and ethics in your analysis? Were your recommendations for improvement specific, accurate, and relevant to course material? IPC competence & recommendations7 pts. possible_____ conclusion (4 pts. Did you do a nice job of summarizing your paper and analysis? Did you explain what you learned from conducting the analysis? Was your explanation insightful? conclusion4 pts. possible_____ general writing issues (4 pts. ) Is your paper well written? Is it free of typos, spelling errors, and other proofreading mistakes? Is your paper coherent, thorough, complete, and informative? writing4 pts. possible_____ concept approval (-4 points) Did you neglect to secure approval of your chosen concept by your TA’s specified due date? If so, 4 points will be deducted from your grade. TOTAL (out of 40 pts. )_____
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