October 9, 2012
Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? A close inspection might reveal that art tries to mimic the life and all the problems that come with it. Who would have thought that in Hollywood movies you would find concepts of interpersonal communication? For example a closer look at the 1993 Hollywood blockbuster movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, we find three very specific concepts of communication. Mrs. Doubtfire centers on a marriage going through a divorce. As a result of the divorce Daniel, the father, is only allowed to see his children once a week. In an attempt to spend more time with his children, the father disguises as the perfect old English nanny that his wife, Miranda, is looking to hire. As the new nanny, Daniel becomes the perfect father and spouse. The first two concepts of interpersonal communication running through the film are those of relationship deterioration and repair. The third concept that is weaved throughout the entire film is that of using humor to reduce tension in communication. In this paper I will explore these three concepts, how they are applied in the film, whether they were applied effectively or ineffectively, and the short and long-term consequence of these concepts applied to relationships. The most obvious concept observed in the film Mrs.Doubtfire is that of relationship deterioration. Joseph DeVito in his book Interpersonal Messages Communication and Relationship Skills, describes deterioration as “the stage [in a relationship] that sees the weakening of bonds between the parties and that represents the downside of the relationship progression,” (2008, p.212). This interpersonal communication concept is observed in the first scenes of the movie. Right after the father, played by Robin Williams, decides to throw his son a birthday party without the consent of the mother, played by Sally Field, we find out that Sally Field’s character is unhappy in her marriage. Miranda says to Daniel, “We have grown apart, we are different, and we have nothing in common.” In this scene we are shown the deterioration of a marriage or in more general term the deterioration of a relationship.
The concept of relationship deterioration was well applied in the film. We see the relationship deterioration very well portrayed in the scene mentioned above and it follows throughout the entire movie. Not only does it show the fact that this marriage between Robin Williams and Sally Field’s characters is falling apart, but it also demonstrates how these two characters are able to communicate to each other that their relationship is indeed falling apart. The second reason why this concept is well applied is because not only do we see how deterioration affects the couple but we are also shown the effect of the divorce has on other people involved in the relationship, such as the children. The children as a result of the divorce are heartbroken. They are saddened by the fact that they have limited visits with their father. The short-term consequences of this relationship deteriorating are that the couple decides to separate; they decide to live in separate homes and have shared custody of the children. This stage of the relationship can be called dissolution or “the cutting of the bonds that tie you together” (DeVito, 2008, p.213). There is a separation of personal property as DeVito describes it in his book (DeVito, 2008, p.213). The long-term consequences of this weakening relationship are that perhaps Daniel and Miranda will have to rebuild their trust if they ever decide to get back together. They will have to decide whether the positive characteristics of the other party involved in the relationship outweigh the negatives. This is also true of real life relationships. When people start to feel unfulfilled by the relationships they begin to withdraw from each other and the relationship starts to fall apart. Couples too have to outweigh the...
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