Hollywood can teach about conflict management

It isn’t often I go to a Hollywood movie and then buy the DVD to show my conflict management students. When Martha, my colleague and friend, suggested we sneak in a matinee of “You Again” I agreed because it was a rainy day and I didn’t have any pressing deadlines. You Again has a terrific cast and comedic script. It’s stereotyped as a chick flick, which is unfortunate. The story is a conflict management equivalent to a work of art. 

Plot summary

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 Marni believes is a bad person. It gets funny as all the generations become involved, which doesn’t 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 transformative power of self-awareness

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.

Each character turns out to be someone we get to know, and – oops – could like.

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