In the movie Remember the Titans Gerry and Julius worked to overcome racial issues and eventually resolved their unnecessary conflict. They came to develop an amazing friendship built on trust and respect. They eventually learned to appreciate the meaning of trusting a man for who they are as a person rather than the color of their skin.
Early in the movie Gerry and Julius would not acknowledge one another, they were like enemies. When they looked at each other it was with both hatred and fear. They both lived their own separate lives, with their own race, and refused to interact with the other. If they communicated in a civil manner with the other race it was like committing an awful sin. They treated each other with such ignorance and hatred. They couldn’t stand each another and hated the way the other one acted.
The majority of the time they approached their conflict with avoidance. Avoidance can be characterized as, “denial of the conflict, changing and avoiding topics, being noncommittal, and joking rather than dealing with the conflict at hand” (pg. 138). They did not want to work out their differences. Instead they chose to avoid the topic and not deal with the fact that they were of a different race.
When both Gerry and Julius found out that they were going to be on the same football team they didn’t want to consider the possibility. They were both so narrow-minded and stubborn which resulted in neither seeing the other side of things. It seemed impossible for these two players to become friends and forget about their racism.
As they matured as adults and closer they became, the more they forgot about their differences and the more they defended their friendship. They were too determined to let their teammates hold them back. They would turn out to be great friends and role models for their team and the community.
Much of the difference was overcome by dialogue. At first they had very little but over time they were able to grow together. “Dialogue differs from usual conversation because although you may dislike what the other person advocates, you still listen and work to value the person” (pg. 232). Their dislikes turned into likes and their unusual conversation turned into intimate conversation.
When Gerry and Julius considered themselves brothers they realized how much they meant to each other and they were so honored and proud to be a true friend to each other. This was unthinkable, but the problem was that if they wanted to play football they had to overcome these hurdles, therefore not leaving them a lot of choices. On camp they would spend days together but neither of them made an effort to get along.
Their friendship was so secure and they were so pleased that they had learned to overcome the racial issues and spent the time to get to know each other. They both still acted as if they were better than other and they weren’t going to attempt to change this. If something went wrong they would blame each other, or disagree, and always end up fighting and usually about different things. Their friendship evolved into healthy, yet competitive, camaraderie.
“The competitive style of managing conflict is productive if one competes to accomplish individual goals without destroying the other person” (pg 145). That is why I say Gerry and Julius maintained a healthy sense of camaraderie. They had developed such a bond that they did not intend to harm the other. They actually fed off of the other as they matured and developed their skill on the field.
By observing the friendship emerging between Gerry and Julius other people began to realize that having friends of a different race was not wrong. This also made Gerry and Julius’s friendship grow even stronger as they made a huge impact on the community. They understood each other and created a bond that would never be broken.
Their hatred and disregard for the other due to race changed throughout the movie. They eventually grew into, what is described by Wilmot and Hocker as, a coalition (pg 189). The coalition that they created helped the remainder of the team and the community understand differences.
Hocker, J. & Wilmot, W. (2007) _Interpersonal Conflict_. New York: McGraw Hill.