Interpersonal Communications in Sweet Home Alabama

Topics: Stereotype, Marriage, Interpersonal relationship Pages: 5 (1413 words) Published: November 30, 2012
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.100). 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...
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