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Intercultural Communication in The Devils Playground
The Devils Playground is a documentary that reveals the intercultural aspects of Amish life. An Amish culture is a particular group of people of the Christian church that are closely related to Mennonite church. One can refer the Amish to a particular culture that shares their traditions and lifestyles. Moreover, they consist of many subcultures. The Devils Playground explores the life and interaction of the Amish young people in Rumspringa. It is a period when they achieve more freedom to experiment and experience. Consequently, their behavior and cultural patterns begin to change. This essay intends to explore the intercultural communication of the Amish in the film The Devils Playground.
It will be relevant to analyze intercultural communication of the Amish according to Hofstedes cross-cultural communication theory that presupposes the analysis of the following dimensions: masculinity vs. femininity, individualism vs. collectivism, uncertainty avoidance (strong and weak), and power distance (small and large) (Minkov & Hofstede 5). The Devil’s Playground has chosen a particular period of life of Amish children (around 16 years of age) when they experience another world, mix with other cultures and step outside of their families and cultures. The film shows that every Amish has his/her choice to make Rumspringa the period of new experiences encouraging self-development and more respect to Amish culture or just of cars, parties, and sex. It is evident that Amish young people are different from American ones as they deal with the seductions of modern life only after they become sixteen. As for American culture, it does not limit the choice of freedom and independence.
Speaking of power distance, one should say that small power distance is typical for the Amish young people before Rumspringa. After that period, the power distance can become large. For example, in the movie one young person makes a decision not to join the Amish church while another character wants to rejoin the community. It means that they need more freedom than Amish culture can provide them. Moreover, they fail to communicate with people of their subculture and need changes. From one side, it is a kind of rebel. From another one, it is the desire to enlarge the power distance with the Amish culture.
The degree of uncertainty avoidance determines the ways diverse cultures feel comfortable or uncomfortable in certain environments and situations. The Devil’s Playground shows that American young people have small uncertainty avoidance as they have more freedom and autonomy compared to the Amish. The Amish young people are characterized by strong uncertainty avoidance before Rumspringa. After this period, they can obtain their freedom and become more confident. The film reveals the difficulties and challenges of being a part of the Amish community. However, those who choose a healthy lifestyle and surpass temptation in Rumspringa deserve admiring and respecting. One cannot condemn those young Amish people who decide not to return to their community as it means that it does not bring them moral satisfaction.
Another difference between the American and Amish cultures refers to the notions of individualism and collectivism. Individualism is typical for the American culture. Consequently, their young people prefer freedom, independence, and making decisions at the early age. They prefer a loosely knit social model without taboos and restrictions. Collectivism is typical for the Amish community. They prefer a tightly knit social model. They are more bound to common traditions and values. They are more loyal than Americans. However, the film shows that Rumspringa is also the choice between collectivism and individualism. Moreover, this film proves that the Amish community regards their young people as the deciders of their own fate. Consequently, The Devils Playground reveals more information on the Amish culture and lifestyle patterns.
The aspect of femininity and masculinity is also depicted in this movie. The American society presupposes the equal treatment and possibility for both men and women. Consequently, it is masculine as well as feminine. The Amish community is more masculine as males gain more preferences there. It is evident that the Amish culture prepares their children before sending them into the severe reality full of temptations and cruelty. Paying attention to the crucial period of Amish life, the film reveals the advantages and disadvantages of their culture. It is impossible to protect children from the negative influence if they do not strive for this. Moreover, this movie explains other aspects of belonging to Amish culture such as peer pressure, difficulties of integration into the American society, and depression.
In conclusion, one should say that the film The Devils Playground reveals the subject of intercultural communication that should be analyzed according to Hofstedes cross-cultural communication theory. Masculinity and femininity, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and individualism and collectivism are the key dimensions for analysis. It is evident that there are differences between American and Amish cultural patterns that result in differences in the lifestyle and making decisions. The film brings up such issues as the desire to leave one culture for the sake of another, difficulties of integration and interaction between the diverse communities. It means that every culture has its peculiarities, and one cannot justify or condemn them as those that are typical for one community can be strange and unacceptable for another. Consequently, this film reveals many interesting facts about the Amish culture and its values.