Interpersonal communication has several meaning according to its application ranging from personality traits, interactional tools, and the mind orientation. To date, there has never been a universally accepted definition what it is thus challenging for one to define his/her meaning.
However, through the life process one acquires a unique collection of experiences and ideas defining who or what they are, and in my opinion, this is a suitable definition of cultural origin and practice. Interpersonal communication trends entail those patterns that revolutionize and changes over time, which can be within days, months or years.
Thus, this analytical treatise attempts to explicitly establish the effects of interpersonal communication patterns, perceptions, verbal codes, nonverbal codes, social episodes, and roles on personal communication in the film The Gods Must Be Crazy by Jamie Uys in 1980.
Interpersonal communication forms
In the film The Gods Must Be Crazy, the director presents an interesting cultural interaction between the native San tribe living in the Kalahari Desert and the western culture. The plot of the film focuses on the San relatives headed by Xi who are ignorant of modern life outside the Kalahari Desert. Along the story, there is a blossoming love between a scientist and a teacher, poachers, and nature reflection.
The San tribe has everything they need and the gods are fair to them until the Coca-Cola bottle threatens this unity (Uys, scene 18, 1980). The journey to return the Coca-Cola bottle ends up with a long search for two sons who boarded a water track belonging to poachers. Xi displays his survival skills to the modernized parties and the film ends with a happy reunion between father and his two sons.
The cultural patterns in the San tribe directly affect their communication. Being a relatively primitive society, they seem to worship the sky and believe that the jet lanes in the sky are roads made by the gods who were very kind to drop for them a Coca-Cola bottle.
Being a patriarchal hierarchy, the male is the head of the family cluster and makes the crucial decisions. For instance, Xi had to make the final decision to return the bottle since it was bringing a ‘curse’ to his household (Uys, scene 12, 1980).
Being a communal living culture, the children are expected to play together and have to bow their heads when speaking to the adults. In fact, the communication of visual information and ideas for the last four centuries has been the function that has enabled science to advance, has it has helped people to see how things work.
The members of this culture have different sounds for different occasions. For instance, hunting which is a preserve for the males is organized and executed in a unique communication signs. Whenever the hunting is successful, the young adult children would be the first to make it into the village and the adults would share the catch to all the households.
The male adults have their special caucuses where they spit on the ground as an approval sign or sigh to reject an opinion. Thus, Visual representational meaning of the communication conveys the relationship between the parties and the depicted structuring.
The creation of a visual representational meaning proposed the space-based model for analysis centered in the placement of objects within the semiotic space as controlled and regulated by culture of the parties involved.
In the film The Gods Must Be Crazy, several events connote the nonverbal communication of the San tribe culture. For instance, when the younger son of Xi has to face the hyena threatening to kill him, he reaches for a rod and places it on his head to extend his height probably because hyenas don’t eat adults.
On the other hand, the throwing away of the Coca-Cola bottle by Xi could be translated as a sign of disappointment or anger. Besides, throwing food on the ground before and after eating would symbolize feeding the ancestors who provided for their daily needs.
Across the film, Xi is fond of placing his left hand on either the forehead or the chest of the person he is communicating with to symbolize peace, blessings, or love for humanity (Uys, scene 16, 1980). Moreover, the marking of animal footprints would represent the nonverbal communication of tracking animals.
There are several special features to the verbal and nonverbal codes used by the members of the San clan in the film The Gods Must Be Crazy. There is gradual transformation on the film. The only difference in culture lies on the degree and multitude under which it is applied and actively recognized by the community in their proactive reorganization for relevance and meanings of the codes used.
For instance, the San culture has embraced dependence as families and adopts extended affiliations as opposed to nuclear family ties. As these families grow bigger and bigger, the majority has finally accepted every member of their families as equals when allocating resources, opportunities, and roles.
This trend has necessitated the adoption of cognitive descent, which is a fusion between traditional and spiritual belief orientation that ensures continuity (Alder, Rolls and Proctor 2012).
Basically, the verbal and nonverbal codes within this culture are controlled by a collective responsibly and common understanding of what is expected of each member who is assigned a unique role.
There are three kinds of meanings that are concerned with building relationships between the communicating parties that clearly come out in the film The Gods Must Be Crazy: those of (1) attitude, (2) social distance, and (3) contact.
Contact is one of the most important visual systems as it enables the viewer to distinguish between images that depict different objects, such as person or animal. Contact visualization is commonly achieved by use the plot that introduces the characters at the beginning of the story (Alder, Rolls and Proctor 2012).
Being a predominantly conservative society, the San tribe in the film The Gods Must Be Crazy has distinct social episodes that are governed by specific cultural rules. For instance, in episode 12, when Xi finally makes it to the cliff top surrounded by low lying clouds, he automatically assumes that he had made it to the world’s edge and releases the bottle down the cliff (Uys, scene 19, 1980).
He then makes it back to his family and the whole clan welcomes him with a warm reception. In this episode, it is apparent that making a journey to the edge of the world and coming back a live is equivocal to going to war and coming back alive.
This symbolizes the blessings and protection from the gods and must be celebrated. In addition, the San clan believed that they are the only human being on that world and Xi reacts very strangely and assumes that the people he met outside the San clan are actually gods who seemed comparatively huge and had road vehicles.
Unlike this uniform social structure of interpersonal communication exhibited by the San Clan, it is apparent that the same would not be possible, especially in the Middle Eastern social structure of interpersonal communication that functions in class system stratification though inclusive of hidden discrepancies associated with caste system such as discrimination of the minorities due to skin color, gender, race, nationality, and religion since it is a state acquired in life and not determined by birth.
Being an intriguing idea, the film focuses on social norms as a mirrored reflection of what a society would like to visualize from a string of intertwining ideas. Social norms involve impersonal consciousness, stepwise process, and absolute necessity assumptions aimed at creating a sustainable, friendly, and acceptable irksome feeling (Alder, Rolls and Proctor 2012).
The film seems to propagate the significance of culture in interpersonal communication. To begin with, the story line is thought-provoking. On the other hand, it has an interesting struggle premise taking the route of a thought-provoking to venture down the path of action and belief scenes.
Reflectively, this creates a feeling of imaginative casting. Factually, the film The Gods Must Be Crazy is very fascinating in aligning beliefs to culture and how the same is interpreted in the interpersonal communication through symbols and codes. This is a vicissitude of life, items that Xi and his two sons turn about to be a necessity for their survival (Uys, scene 21, 1980).
Generally, the film The Gods Must Be Crazy has an interesting plot besides its richness in augmenting interpersonal communication as a component of culture. The director has fused a documentary approach and humor to present a favorable piece of art that would be of great benefit to an individual interested in exploring intercultural communication and its variable at micro and macro levels of a geographical setting.
Alder, R., Rolls, J., & Proctor, R. (2012). Looking out/looking in. Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers.
Uys, J. (Producer). (1980). The Gods Must Be Crazy [Motion picture]. South Africa. 20th Century Fox.