The Breakfast Club (Intercommunications)
John Hughes 1985 film, The Breakfast Club, gives countless examples of the principles of interpersonal communication. Five high school students: Allison, a weirdo, Brian, a nerd, John, a criminal, Claire, a prom queen, and Andrew, a jock, are forced to spend the day in Saturday detention. By the end of the day, they find that they have more in common than they ever realized.
I will begin by selecting a scene from the movie and using it to explain what interpersonal communication is. The interpersonal transaction I chose to isolate was the scene where we see Bender and Claire going through each others wallet and purse. Claire inquires about the pictures of girls in Benders wallet and Bender asks about the number of items in Claires purse. This scene shows that interpersonal communication is a dynamic process. In previous transactions between the two characters, they are hostile towards each other and self-disclose minimally. In this conversation, Claire calmly asks Bender personal questions, although Bender is still watchful of what he self-discloses. Interpersonal communication is inescapable. While Claire is asking these questions, no matter how Bender responds, he is still sending Claire a message about himself, which is a form of communication. Interpersonal communication is unrepeatable, in that Claire probably wouldnt ask the same kind of questions after realizing Benders disbelief in monogamy. The conversation couldnt be reenacted exactly the same. Interpersonal communication is also irreversible. After this interpersonal transaction, it would be impossible for Bender to argue that he believes in monogamy or for Claire to argue that she doesnt. Even if they were to say they didnt mean what they said, the transaction would still have some sort of effect on both of them. Interpersonal communication is complicated because Claire must take everything she knows about Bender in consideration before she forms her questions. When she asks Bender why he doesnt believe in monogamy and Bender doesnt respond, Claire doesnt take into consideration the fact that Bender likes to disclose very little about himself. This scene also shows that interpersonal communication is contextual. If Bender and Claire werent in detention together, they wouldnt even be talking to each other. Furthermore, if they werent in detention together, they wouldnt be as nice to each other as they are. They would probably be much more defensive and self-protective in a different context. Interpersonal communication is governed by rules. One of these rules is that people should respect the others privacy. In this situation, when Bender is reluctant to explain why he doesnt believe in monogamy, Claire sees this and backs off.
In Claire and Benders conversation, there are a few nonverbal messages both characters send. Claire is curious and intrigued by Bender. This can be seen in her posture towards him and her usage of direct eye contact. Bender seems to be somewhat disinterested because of his avoidance of eye contact and unanimated facial expressions. When Claire (discussing monogamoustic relationships) asks, Why not? it is clear that Bender doesnt want to answer the question by his cold look and quick change of subject.
There arent any verbal misunderstandings between the two because Claire persistently asks for clarification on every one of Benders responses. Claire asks, Are all these your girlfriends? Followed by, What about the others? Bender replies, Some I consider my girlfriends and some I just consider. Due to Benders vague response, Claire asks, Consider what? If Claire didnt keep asking for explanations, she would misunderstand Bender because of his vagueness.
In this interaction, both characters display characteristics of an assertive communication style. Claire shows assertiveness in the way she forms her questions according to Benders responses. She doesnt act bossy or pushy with her inquiries, but simply shows her interest and curiosity. When Bender refuses to answer a question, Claire respects Benders decision and ceases to investigate further. But, when Bender responds with, How come you got so much shit in your purse? Claire shows her assertiveness by refusing the question, firing back with, How come you got so many girlfriends? Bender is assertive as well in this scene in that he chooses to answer the questions he wants. In any other scene, Bender would be described as