The movie ‘despicable me’ utilizes Gru as the main character to drive its story line. Gru’s self-concept changes from the super villain outlook on himself to an increasingly soft and children liking super dad. The transformation in his self concept helps build the story of the movie, however, his identity remains the same which helps the audience identify with him and recognize him as Gru, whether in villainy or in good causes. The physical identity of Gru is defined by many aspects. The size of the character is representative of him. Big and imposing, the size complements all that he does. For instance, his super villainy acts are complemented by his size that helps the audience accept him as a worthy candidate for supper villainy (Renaud, 2010). Further, his super dad endeavors are helped by his size that makes him an able protector of the girls. This fact is apparent towards the end of the movie where Gru saves the girls from Vector’s space craft. His way of talking is also distinctive of himself and does not change during the two periods of conflicting self concepts. He remains humorous in his speech patterns throughout the movie.
These aspects make the viewer relate to Gru and identify with him throughout the movie.
Despite the seeming fluid continuity in Gru’s identity, he faces moments of dilemma. He is unable to relate his current circumstances with his identity; moments where his actions do not mirror what he views of himself. An instance in point is his flashbacks where he always wanted to be an astronaut. He finds himself as the biggest villain later in life, and this conflict is presented in the movie by use of constant flashbacks of his childhood dreams as an astronaut.
The other instance where his identity faces a crisis is when Dr. Nefario takes the children back to Miss Hattie’s. Gru does not wish to see them go, and he lingers shortly on his door step wondering whether to go after the girls or to concentrate, as Dr. Nefario wished, with his endeavors towards being the greatest villain.
The scene that I chose which depicts non-verbal communication is the instance where Gru and the girls are driving home from vector’s house after stealing the shrink ray, passing through the theme park and finally, arriving home. Four channels of nonverbal communication are open in this scene. These channels are
- Use of space
- Physical appearance
- Chronemics/ the use of time
- The use of artifacts (Adler, 2012)
When Gru emerges from vector’s house with the shrink ray in hand, he is without his pants on after losing them in his efforts to flee the house. His outlook in this manner makes him have a funny appearance. Margo, the oldest of the girls shows her disapproval of his appearance by frowning. Gru’s excitement does not allow him to note that he is without his pants on and that the girls need not see him in this state. His appearance without pants makes him lose stature in presence of the girls. From the look on the girl’s faces, they are not amused by his exhilarated dance without his pants on. When Gru and the girls are finally in the vehicle on their drive home, Gru shows his acquired dissociation with the girls by driving from the front seat. The girls sit on the back seat with any attempts by the girls at reaching out to Gru in the front seat being rejected. His need to keep his personal space is a message to the girls that they are not welcome to share in his activities. In contrast, when the girls and Gru share moments of fun in the theme park, he is willing to share his space with girls, an indication that they can get comfortable with him now and that he has got a regard for them as intimate persons to him. Gru is the super villain in the movie; all his efforts are in many instances directed towards the actualization of his villainous projects. The use of time in his work indicates that he is concerned of his status as the greatest villain in the world more than anything is. When the girls start growing on him, he warms up to them and spend increasing amounts of his time with the girls. They play together and have fun much to the chagrin of Dr. Nefario. Contrasts in this shift is depicted in the movie where in the beginning, Gru is beside Dr. Nefario in his efforts at building the rocket, passing to him all the tools that would be needed. In the contrasting scenario, Dr. Nefario stretches out his hand for Gru to pass him a tool, only for him to be away playing with girls.
Use of artifacts is another method of nonverbal communication used in the movie. At the beginning of the girl’s stay in Gru’s house, they rarely if ever received any gifts from Gru. Indeed, his ground rules regarding the use of the house are strict to the extent of meanness. As the movie advances, Gru is changed and his use of things to show the girls affection grows. At the theme park, he buys a lot of candy for the girls. Further, he replaces the girl’s old bedtime story book with his own composition. In the ultimate show of affection, he gives the one artifact that would have defined his legacy ‘as the greatest villain’ to save the girls, the moon.
Social Emotions in the movie
The movie shows a lot of scenes where emotions are expressed. Social emotions arise out of the learning function of an individual. Differentiating between what is right and wrong and what should be acceptable of not acceptable in different social situations. These emotions, therefore, arise out of an individual’s failure to align to social behavior excepted of him by both the society and by himself, of himself (Adler, 2012). The scene I chose in illustration of this phenomenon is a scene where Miss Hattie comes to taking the girls away. Gru experiences the social emotion of guilt, of having let the girls down in their expectations of him. He also feels to have let down Miss Hattie for having trusted him as capable of taking care of the girls.
While he was not responsible for giving the girls back, Gru does not argue his case out which indicates he feels responsible for the plight of the girls. Dr. Nefario, the individual responsible for giving the girls back to the orphanage, stands behind Gru in a victorious stance indicating his immense sense of pride in having succeeded at giving the girls back to the orphanage. His sense of pride arises out of his feeling of having accomplished a substantial achievement by ridding Gru of the girls for him to concentrate on the moon heist instead.
Use of language and words meaning
Language pragmatics guides the use of language for communicative purposes. Pragmatics is the use of language between communicating parties to derive the inferred meaning to the recipient. In decoding the correct meaning, the speaker has to use language and word which are understood by the listener, and they both have to be in the know with regards to context of the communication purposes (Eccles, 2007). The scene I chose for the illustration of this purpose is one where Gru is in the lab with Dr. Nefario and the girls. Gru moans that Dr. Nefario did not make his specified cookie robots, instead making Boogie robots.
This confusion between the word cookie and Boogie causes a delay in the execution of Gru’s plan of infiltrating vector’s house. The failure of Dr. Nefario to infer correctly arises since he is not aware of the contexts within which the robots are commissioned. If he had prior knowledge that the robots are to be used in deceiving Vector and helping in plans to steal the shrink ray, he would have made the appropriate robots. This misunderstanding can also be blamed on Gru’s accent which makes some of his words unintelligible leading to confusion.
Another instance in the movie that demonstrates the use of language is an instance where Gru informs his neighbor of his dog’s behavior of dropping ‘bombs’ in his compound. The aspect in consideration here is the denotation and the connotation use of language (Adler, 2012). By use of the word ‘bomb’, the denotation of the word bomb is an explosive device which is used in warfare to because destruction. The connotative function of the word in this context is that the dog is excreting in Gru’s background. The neighbor understands this inference going by his comments in defense of the general nature of dogs, thus indicating a common use of the word to describe dog droppings.
Dynamics of interpersonal communication
This movie is a good demonstration of the different dynamics of interpersonal communication. Communication involves transmission and reception of messages. When there is good transmission and reception of messages, there is said to be good interpersonal communication between the parties. When communication is interpersonal, it takes on a different dimension due to the involvement of feelings in the communication process (Eccles, 2007). Feelings, while they affect to no small part communication between individuals, are a major part of interpersonal communication. Feelings help in accentuating a message enhancing its impact on the recipient by demonstrating a level of attachment the speaker of the message attaches to the message.
In the movie despicable me, Gru is understood in his bid at being a good parent by the emotions that accompany his speeches rather than by the words he speaks. When he reads the bedtime story of the unicorn to the girls, he is betrayed as emotionally touched by the twinkle in his eyes that indicate a swell-up of tears. His voice also waivers with emotion, and in his reluctance at maintaining a tough stance with the girls by declining to kiss them, they know that he cares for them by the heavy emotion in his voice. Another aspect of interpersonal communication dynamic that comes to the fore in this movie is a risk factor associated in transmitting messages about either the recipient or the transmitter between close individuals.
This communication is fraught with the risk that the transmitter or the recipient might get hurt by either getting an unexpected response in the part of the transmitter, or by transmitting a displeasing message about the recipient. Gru is hurt in such an instance when he demonstrates to his mother of his ambition of being an astronaut in the future. The response he receives from his mother, which of indifference hurts his tender feelings. On the other hand, when Miss Hattie comes to take the girls back to the orphanage, Gru holds back and avoids talking to the girls in case they do not receive his message, as he would intend. Miss Hattie comes for the girls just as they are in the middle of a fun session with Gru simulating a cheers routine.
This is contrasted by the sudden arrival of Miss Hattie informing Gru and the girls of Gru’s request to take the girls back to the orphanage. This is misleading as Dr. Nefario is the one who calls the orphanage with the request. Gru, therefore, would be willing to explain the situation to the girls but does not do so in fear of appearing as a liar, or in fear of rejection by the girls.
Use of technology for communicative purposes
The use of technology for communicative purposes in this movie is numerous. From Vector’s phone calls to and from his dad, Gru’s use of a video aid to illustrate to his minions and Gru’s conference with the bank of evil president regarding his loan. These devices require different approaches to communication in achieving the required response. Vector, in one of the phone calls, does the opposite of what he claims to be doing while he still maintains a positive outlook on himself despite his lies. He informs his father that he is not playing with the shrink ray while indeed he was playing with it.
The absence of visual aid to collaborate Vector’s claims ensures that his father does not know the truth. Gru with his use of a video demonstration of his plan to the minions acquires more depth to his message by illustrating his vocal messages. The demonstration Gru attempts with Mr. Perkins on the video call is the opposite of Vector’s utilization of the phone. Mr. Perkins can see all that Gru is doing and the environment in which he is. Despite Gru’s attempts at redeeming himself, Mr. Perkins concludes that he is not focused and unworthy of his support. These instances show how technology impacts the communication and decoding of interpersonal messages.
Interpersonal communication consultant advice
Gru is the main character whose interpersonal skills the paper focuses on. He is an apt communicator despite some minor challenges. However as his interpersonal consultant, I would advise him, to take several steps in improving his communication skills. His accent is heavy and unique which makes some of the word he speaks to be inaudible. In addressing this shortfall, he should adopt a slow approach in the way he pronounces the word to aid the listener in understanding him (O'Keeffe, 2011). Interpersonal communication also involves the use of emotions to emphasize the message. Gru is a proud character who likes to keep his emotions hid. It would suit him better if he utilized measured emotion in accentuating his messages in order to gain improved connection with the message by the recipient.
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