CAT- American History X
In this paper, I will use CAT (Communication Accommodation Theory) to explain how convergence, divergence, and intergroup contact are illustrated within the film American History X.
Convergence in CAT refers to the accommodativeness, the process concerned with how we both reduce and magnify communication differences between people in interaction. Talking about convergence, people tend to enhance interpersonal similarities and reduce uncertainties. The effect of converging towards or approximately to another can increase liking and enable him or her to be seen more competent and credible. It includes switching to the other’s language or dialect, or assuming the same level of the other’s interruptions, speech rate, posture and so forth. When engaging conversation, if the individuals or in-group identity is viewed more than the out-group identity, there will be convergence and higher communication relational satisfaction. In the film American History X, there are several examples help to illustrate the concept of convergence: Firstly, the attitude and the way of thinking towards Derek are influence by his father who is being murdered and killed by two black people during his duty as a firefighter. In one of the flashbacks in the film, Derek’s family gathered around at the dinner table, Derek mentions his black teachers, Bob Sweeney, who assigned the class to read a book which is written by an African American author. Derek’s father disapproval the book because he is personally having dissatisfaction about his job with two black people got approved to his team. He explains the facts of how the black people in their society and neibourhood would threaten their life and verbally assume Derek is supporting his point of view. All these influences Derek after his father died. He starts to believe that the problems of the society is all race related. Started from that point, Derek strongly stereotypes his ethnic identity because of his father’s prejudices towards the minorities in his society and the reason for his father’s death. His convergence mixed with stereotyping leads to over accommodation which is viewed as disrespectful to his whole family both verbally and nonverbally. Second example of convergence is another flashback in the movie. Derek along with his brother Daniel and girlfriend Stacey gathered a large group of white racism gangs in the parking lot. Derek was having a speech to the whole group about the new immigration and unfairness about the distribution on the resources towards whites and other ethics. After the speech, they destroyed a market which the owner is an Asian. They almost broke everything in the store and beaten up the people inside. The whole actions show that the group of white gangs is trying to show their strong social power to those who has lower power in the society. Besides, the group of white gangs tends to converge to signal their common ethnic and social identities. In another flashback scene, when Derek was in the prison, he tried to find the group who has the similarity with him base on the tattoo on his body. He lay down and worked out in the area where the others ethic prisoners were staying and he threaten them away. Finally he found the group and he is one of the in-group members. Here Derek tends to converge as he wants to gain approval by a group of people with similarity in the prison. He also wants to develop a closer relationship with the other members in his in-group that he didn’t meet before. After three years, Derek gets released from the prison. Daniel’s appearance changes to a younger version of Derek, with shaved headed and tattoo. Derek seems to be frustrated about the tattoo on Daniel’s arm as he thought it would be a bad idea for Daniel to follow his steps and get involved all those racism stuffs. But Daniel says “I thought you would like it!” Daniel tends to converge to gain approval and trust from his brother, he tends...
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