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 other’s wallet and purse. Claire inquires about the pictures of girls in Bender’s wallet and Bender asks about the number of items in Claire’s 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 wouldn’t ask the same kind of questions after realizing Bender’s disbelief in monogamy.
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The conversation couldn’t 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 doesn’t. Even if they were to say they didn’t 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 doesn’t believe in monogamy and Bender doesn’t respond, Claire doesn’t 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 weren’t in detention together, they wouldn’t even be talking to each other. Furthermore, if they weren’t in detention together, they wouldn’t 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 other’s privacy. In this situation, when Bender is reluctant to explain why he doesn’t believe in monogamy, Claire sees this and backs off. In Claire and Bender’s 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 un animated facial expressions. When Claire (discussing monogamous tic relationships) asks, “Why not?” it is clear that Bender doesn’t want to answer the question by his cold look and quick change of subject. There aren’t any verbal misunderstandings between the two because Claire persistently asks for clarification on every one of Bender’s responses.
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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 Bender’s vague response, Claire asks, “Consider what?” If Claire didn’t 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 Bender’s responses. She doesn’t act bossy or pushy with her inquiries, but simply shows her interest and curiosity. When Bender refuses to answer a question, Claire respects Bender’s 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 aggressive. However, here he happens to not hurt anyone’s feelings or be blatantly obnoxious. A few gender issues are apparent in this interaction. We can see Claire show her femininity as she investigates Bender’s relationship history.
She asks, “Are all these your girlfriends?” And she goes on to ask about his belief in non-monogamous relationships. The book states that “feminine cultures value relationships, caring for the less fortunate, and overall quality of life.” Bender doesn’t necessarily show any characteristics of femininity or masculinity. He’s not very involved in the conversation in the first place, so his gender is not very apparent in this scene. I think one of the most significant self-disclosures in this film was Allison’s story about being a nymphomaniac.
First of all, she’s hardly said a word to anyone the whole day. Claire is asking Andrew if he would go to school naked. As they ” re discussing this, Allison jumps in with, “I’d do that!” She follows that up with, “I’d do anything sexual, and I don’t need a million dollars to do it either.” The others are all shocked because she never talks and on top of that she’s now self-disclosing such personal information. Allison goes on to tell them she’s a nymphomaniac and that she’s had sex with her married psychiatrist on various occasions. She doesn’t assess this as a high-risk self-disclosure because, as she says later, she is a compulsive liar. The only reason she is saying all of these things is for attention.
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Claire notes her disgust in Allison’s comments, saying, “Do you have any idea how completely gross that is?” and telling her she is crazy. Allison isn’t very surprised by the group’s reaction to her disclosure, since she only said it for the reaction she knew she would get. The film, The Breakfast Club, is an impressive work of art, addressing almost every aspect of interpersonal communication. This is easily seen here, as I’ve gone through and shown how all these principles of interpersonal communication apply to real-life, using only two short interpersonal interactions from the movie. I’ve explained aspects of interpersonal communication, nonverbal communication, verbal misunderstandings, communication styles, gender issues, and self-disclosures. With that said, I believe I have demonstrated my ability to apply principles of interpersonal communication with simulated real-life examples..