Human beings are usually “attached” to specific cultural or racial groups. Every country or society has different cultural groups. Some of these cultural groups encounter various challenges, such as discrimination, prejudice, and “communication barriers.” However, it is mandatory for individuals in a society to communicate with one another. This explains why the question of intercultural communication is critical in every society or nation. Filmmakers and producers have used various television series and movies to examine the question of intercultural communication. Poor intercultural communication and interaction promotes “discrimination, societal challenges, and stereotyping” (Bennett, 2013, p. 38). The good thing with most of these films and television series is that they help us reexamine the question of cultural interaction.
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One of the outstanding television series is OZ. OZ is a fictional name for the Oswald State Penitentiary. This is a maximum-security penitentiary. Tom Fontana created and wrote the television (TV) series. The TV series examines the issue of cross-cultural communication in the United States.
To begin with, the TV series portrays individuals (inmates) from different cultural backgrounds. For instance, there are some African Americans, such as Wangler, Redding, and Keane (Fontana, 2003). Some characters in the TV series are Muslims, Aryans, and Latinos (Fontana, 2003). The TV series also features gays, gangs, and other individuals without any social affiliation. There are also dangerous criminals in the penitentiary. That being the case, the movie depicts a “true relationship” between language use and the perception of reality. For example, African Americans use dirty language in the television series. The homosexuals and gangsters in the series also use dirty or arrogant language whenever communicating with one another. The use of language also mirrors reality as experienced in the United States.
The other observation in the TV series is that some characters are oppressed and disempowered. For instance, the “wise-guys” are trying hard to take control of the situation. African Americans fight hard to resist oppression. This is also the same case for different gang groups in the movie. This is the same situation experienced in the wider society because certain cultural groups or practices appear to dominate. The oppressed characters also come together and form their gangs. The approach is necessary because it increases their bargaining power. As well, some individuals come together as members of the same religion or cultural group to survive (Bennett, 2013). These gangs also use certain techniques to communicate, such as tattoos.
The characters also face numerous challenges in the TV series. To begin with, there is an ever-increasing rivalry amongst different racial groups and individuals. This creates hostility and eventually results in death. Some groups are unable to get along with others because of prejudice and a sense of “cultural superiority.” The individuals are also struggling hard to be part of certain factions. The attempt to have control over drugs also becomes a major challenge affecting these inmates (Fontana, 2003). There is also cultural tension and animosity. This explains why the Oswald State Correctional Facility remains a pathetic and deadly place for these inmates. These individuals have no option but to work hard to survive.
After watching the TV series, I can argue that it examines the issue of intercultural communication and human interaction. To begin with, the movie explains why prejudice affects the way different people in society communicate with one another. Human beings form unique groups based on religion, gender, and background. This affects the way such individuals relate with one another. Intercultural communication becomes a vital practice because it can either break or make any society. According to Novinger (2013, p. 56), “poor intercultural communication affects the lives and experiences of many people in the society.” At the same time, proper cross-cultural communication can make life successful.
This TV series explains why cultural differences and similarities are critical whenever examining any cultural group. According to the TV series, cultural differences will always encourage stereotyping and “over-generalization.” Some groups believe they are superior in society. Such differences will distort the quality of communication and eventually affect the lives of many people. This film helps people embrace the importance of diversity instead of creating enmity. The TV series encourages people to stop generalizing and instead create the best relationships and friendships in the society (Novinger, 2013). The practice reduces societal disagreements and conflicts.
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Most of the characters react to their challenges by befriending one another. Some of the characters also use weapons to attack their enemies. The guards and security officers embrace the importance of dialogue and proper communication at the penitentiary facility. People’s perceptions of their own cultural identity affect their communication with other members of society. Stereotyping creates a sense of superiority, thus affecting how individuals from different cultural groups communicate with one another. Human beings have always used languages to their preserve identities (Novinger, 2013). Language brings people together and encourages them to exchange their ideas, practices, and beliefs. However, human beings should understand the importance of their languages and cultural identities. The approach will help people constructively use their identities and languages. While the language is a means of preserving one’s identity, it is also necessary to interact with one another to reduce obstacles and eventually promote economic development.
Bennett, M. (2013). Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication, Second Edition: Paradigms, Principles, & Practices. New York: Intercultural Press.
Fontana, T. (Executive Producer). (2003). OZ [DVD]. New York, USA: The Fontana Company.
Novinger, T. (2013). Intercultural Communication: A Practical Guide. Austin: University of Texas Press.