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Gossip Girl is an American television series based on the stories written by Cecily von Ziegesar. It ran between 2007 and 2012, depicting the lives of upper-class teenagers. The unique aspect of the show is associated with its narration by a mysterious blogger that calls herself “Gossip Girl” who reports the latest news about Manhattan’s elite. The anonymity of the narrator gives the television show a new look at interpersonal relations among the main and secondary characters, with stories intertwining and leading to unexpected plot twists.
The list of all players in the show is extensive; however, it is crucial to mention such characters as Blair Waldorf, Serena van der Woodsen, Chuck Bass, Nate Archibald, Dan Humphrey, and Jenny Humphrey, with the latter revealing to be “Gossip Girl” in the finale. Interpersonal relationships among these characters will be the focus of the current research, and the role of social media will also be explored.
Problem to Be Researched
Despite the criticism of Gossip Girl as a pointless TV show about the lives of privileged Upper East Side teenagers, many fail to understand its true value – demonstrating the effects of social media on interpersonal relationships. This issue is especially valuable to research because technologies have become the primary vehicle for communication not only for teenagers but also adults. Within the context of interpersonal relationships, three concepts will be studied in further detail. Friendship rules, betrayal, and barriers to cooperative verbal communication will be incorporated in the examination of interpersonal relationships among the characters in Gossip Girl. These concepts were chosen as integral components of research because of the plethora of examples in the show that provides valid illustrations.
The theoretical framework for the study on interpersonal relationships in Gossip Girl will be based on Ting-Toomey and Kurogi’s (1998) face-negotiation theory, which explores conflict situations as opportunities for parties to protect their self-interests, conflict goals as well as honoring or attacking the conflict goals of one another. The theory will be important for examining the self-identities of the show’s characters and how they present themselves in various social settings. Friendship rules, betrayal, and barriers to cooperative verbal communication can be integrated into the theory because they are directly associated with the ways in which individuals communicate, how they react in different situations, as well as what issues occur preventing their relationships from being fruitful.
In the show, friendships have non-descript but clear rules that guide interpersonal relations, especially between girls. Female friendship is among the focus themes of the show and has several standout principles. Interpersonal relations between Blair and Serena show that forgiveness is key, that having a friend may get oneself through a bad time, that judging is never the answer, and that friends are family (Weintraub, 2015).
Of course, within this friendship, betrayal, and barriers to cooperative verbal communication will occur. Whether it is Serena cheating on Nate with Dan or Blair being aggressive to Jenny because of the girl’s social status, there are always barriers to people engaging in conflict situations. Importantly, social aggression represents one of the most common conflicts in Gossip Girl because the social statuses of the main characters are very important to them, and they often use it to shape their self-identity.
Purpose of the Study
The goal of the present study is to examine various aspects of social interactions as they shape interpersonal relationships among people. Gossip Girl is a great basis for this exploration because it provides a variety of examples of different types of communication among people, including social media use. Relations among the characters of upper and lower social classes will offer a unique perspective on interpersonal relations and will serve as an addition to the research on this issue.
While studying the topic in greater detail, the incorporation of such concepts as friendship rules, betrayal, and barriers to cooperative verbal communication is expected to shed light on conflict, which is the focus of Ting-Toomey and Kurogi’s (1998) face-negotiation theory. For socially powerful young people, conflicts are essential parts of their lives because they can manifest their socioeconomic roles. Culture also plays an important role in Gossip Girl conflicts because differences in social statuses contribute to shaping cultural differences among people and thus influence interpersonal relationships.
Several important terms to incorporate into the current study include interpersonal relationships, face-negotiation theory, as well as verbal and nonverbal communication. Interpersonal relationships refer to the bonds that exist between two and more people; these bonds maybe friendships, romantic connections, family affairs, and multiple others. Face-negotiation theory (first offered by Brown and Levinson in 1978) is used for understanding how individuals belonging to different cultures deal with conflicts. Both verbal and nonverbal communications play an important part in the theory.
While verbal communication implies the use of sounds, words, and other audible means to express one’s opinion, nonverbal communication is the opposite of it and uses body language along with presuppositions, unspoken understandings, and cultural environments to converse.
Ting-Toomey, S., & Kurogi, A. (1998). Facework competence in intercultural conflict: An updated face-negotiation theory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 22(2), 187-225.
Weintraub, H. (2015). Everything Gossip Girl taught us about female friendship. Teen Vogue. Web.