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Power of Communications - Terrorist and Gingerbread

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Power of Communications

Communication Paper #1

Fall 2016

TA: Whitestone, Stephenson Brooks

University of California, Santa Barbara

In the “Terrorist And Gingerbread” episode of Mom, Bonnie has a very tense and emotional interaction with the mother that abandoned her to foster homes as a child. The following interaction between the two, and intermittently Kristy as well, displays the effects and importance of verbal and nonverbal communication. All Communications carry subtle details that give participants and observers insight on dynamics between individuals, namely power dynamics.

Inside of the cafe Bonnie is confronted by her mother whom she hates. The dynamic between the two is evident throughout the interaction, through the usage of powerful and powerless language, as well as through the use of euphemisms. Clearly, Bonnie is extremely upset and angered by how she had was abandoned, so her showing up to meet with her mother can be considered a favor, where Bonnie feels she is only there due to the circumstances of her mother’s health. So immediately a power dynamic is created where Bonnie could walk out at any point without incurring an emotion loss because she is less emotionally invested. Her mother, however, is heavily invested and is ultimately desperate to make amends. It is evident when they begin talking who holds power during the conversation, Bonnie speaks with clarity and directness, whereas her mother speaks indirectly and with hesitation.

Her mother's indirectness is shown immediately upon sitting down. Her hesitation when she says “I am not sure where to start” shows that she is careful about what she says as she is afraid of upsetting her daughter. Beginning an interaction with powerless speech cements the idea that Bonnie holds power in this meeting. It was after all Bonnie who agrees to meet her mother upon request. There is no reason beyond that for her to show up, so there is very little invested on her part for this meeting to happen. Bonnie’s first words were also unapologetic and direct, clearly stating that she is solely there because she heard that her mother is soon dying and having heart complications. Her perceived apathy and powerful speech say that she was adamant about how she feels about her mother.

The dynamics of their speech also differentiates in their usage of euphemisms. The Bonnie’s other regularly uses positive connotations for words to sway positivity for the things that she has done. For instance, she uses the slang of “hard living” for her history of either drug or alcohol abuse. The usage of euphemisms goes to solidify further the idea that Bonnie’s mother is clearly trying to gain favor or forgiveness for what The mom has done to Bonnie as a child. Her heavy usage of euphemisms tells viewers that she wants forgiveness from Bonnie, so she tells her stories in a way that sounds less negative. When she left her daughter in a foster home, she called it “giving you up,” which sounds much nicer than words like abandoned or left. Her ultimate goal was to reconcile with her daughter in her final days, and her usage positively charged words indicate that desire and is congruent with her beliefs. Her usage of positive connotation words also ties in with the idea that her speech is less powerful than bonnie's, her words are almost appealing and soothing for the recipient to hear, therefore giving off a feeling of “unworthiness”.

The book mentions that those who are powerless within interactions may come off as unreliable or untrustworthy, however with the mother I believe it shows the other side of powerless speech, being good-natured and polite. Her eagerness to reconcile with her daughter means she will try her best to speak politely, as seen through her usage of euphemisms. Bonnie’s mother also demonstrates good nature because the basis of their meeting was for her to fix a damaged relationship. The nonverbal communication between the two further define the relationship Bonnie, and her mother have. Chronemics, or the amount of time that passes between responses or continued speech is a key factor in understanding intensity and emotion of their exchange. Upon entering the cafe, the birth mother calls out to Kristy and then says hi to Bonnie, a significant amount of time goes by, and tension built up as a result. Bonnie replying with only a quick head shake and arm gesture. Her lack of verbal response shows that she might not know what to say to her birth mother since there were emotions built up from over many years. However, when the two begin to talk Bonnie response quickly to her mother’s remorseful statements showing a genuine interest to know more.

The exchanges start happening fast when Bonnie inquires about why her mother had abandoned her in foster homes. The speedy reply displays a genuine interest in an answer, but her eagerness to ask demonstrates that she has been wondering these things for a long time. Another time Bonnie shows a differentiation of response speed was when Bonnie told her mother that she was only there due to her health complications. Bonnie inquired

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