Meet the Fockers: an Analysis of Interpersonal Communication

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Meet the Fockers is a movie about two families who meet to prepare for a wedding, but some funny and surprising things get in the way when secrets are revealed. Ben Stiller plays the groom, Greg Focker, and Teri Polo plays Pam Byrnes, the bride. The two of them decide to finally bring their families together to settle out wedding plans. As the their families get to know each other things do not go well. Greg knows that his family is not a typical family so he tries to impress Pam's family by downplaying the strange ways of his parents. This paper studies communication in the movie by looking closely at eight specific communication principles and applying them to eight scenes. 1. Elements of Interpersonal Communication - Feed Forward

1. Define feed forward
Feed forward happens when a communicator gives clues about what message is coming up. Feed forward is kind of like setting up the next message by warning someone what mood they should be in or how they will feel about the statement. 2. Apply the concept to the scene

In this scene from Meet the Fockers, Jack, who will be Greg's father-in-law, introduces Greg to Jorge, who is probably Greg's son. Greg doesn't know he might have a son. In this scene, Jack uses feed forward when he says, "He's never met his father." This hints at what is to come. Jack acts casual, but he has his own motives. When Jack mentions that Jorge is 15 years old, it seems like Greg does the math to figure out how long ago he was in a relationship with Jorge's mother. Jack also says that Jorge never knew his father. Greg says, 'That's a shame,' but it appears as if Greg is wondering if he is Jorge's father. 3. Evaluate the communication strategies in the scene

The communication in the scene is awkward because Greg doesn't know whether Jorge is his son or not. Jack believes Jorge is Greg's son, but he doesn't come right out and say it directly. Instead, he uses feed forward hints to build up a mood and make Greg uncomfortable. The feed forward in the scene is successful in this way because Jack does what he meant to do. Jack doesn't want to say outright that Jorge and Greg are related, so he gives the idea away a little bit at a time with his hints. 4. Suggest improvements

Jack should have been more direct and upfront about his motives. Jack isn't direct in this scene, so his communication with Greg seems deceptive. Another improvement is that Jack doesn't seem to be concerned about how Jorge feels. Jorge is a young person and he doesn't really know what is going on. The communication here would be better if Jack considered their feelings and prepared Jorge and Greg prior to introducing them. 5. Reflect on your own ability to use the concept

I think it is important to be direct and consider people's feelings especially when you are communicating important information for the first time. Feed forward can be helpful, like when you tell somebody you have bad news. But in this scene Jack uses it to delay an important idea. If you are honest about your motives and allow people some time to process information, the conversation will be less awkward.

2. Culture - Intercultural Communication

1. Define intercultural communication
Culture is certain events, routines and ways of being that set you apart from those with different backgrounds or customs. Intercultural communication happens when communicators from different cultural backgrounds interact with each other. According to Barbara Burke and Julie Patterson-Pratt (2002), "Culture and communication are integrally linked." This happens especially in intercultural communication. 2. Apply to scene

In this scene, Pam and Greg are getting married. The ceremony combines both of their original cultural beliefs (Jewish and Christian) to join their families together. Pam's father, Jack, proves that he has accepted Pam and Greg's relationship by asking a family friend to perform the ceremony, and by "giving her away." Although Jack walks her down the...
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