Hollywood can teach about conflict management

November 17, 2010

It isn’t often I go to a Hollywood movie and then want to buy the DVD to use in my conflict management classes. When Martha, my colleague and friend, suggested we sneak in a matinee of “You Again” I agreed only because it was a rainy day and I didn’t have any pressing deadlines.

Now, I want to see it again and show it to everyone I like. I’ve bought the DVD.

You Again has a terrific cast and the script has truly funny lines. It’s marketed as a chick flick, which is unfortunate. Everyone of any gender or age could enjoy this movie and take away something for his/her own life.

The main character, Marni, was bullied in high school. She went on to achieve success in business. It did indeed get better for her. Her brother became engaged to the cheerleader who bullied her, so Marni sets out to sabotage the wedding. Marni’s intention is to save her brother from marrying a woman that Marni believes is a bad person. It gets hilarious as all the generations become involved, which doesn’t at all detract from the serious messages about bullying that lurk under the skin of Marni, her mother and grandmother. It seems that all three experienced bullying from their own perspectives.

The subtext also includes the transformative power of insight into our own behaviour and the adaptive changes we are all capable of undergoing. Marni is hostile to a memory of what someone did to her, and that person no longer exists. The enemy has evolved into someone Marni could actually like. And, the bully has her own story to tell about what it was like for her in high school.

All the characters turn out to be sympathetic and likable once we get to know them. The story is a conflict management equivalent to a work of art. You’ll find something in You Again that reflects your taste and point of view.

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