Hollywood Does Conflict Transformation

The conflict between shape-shifting Indian warrior Jake (shirtless) and the vampire Edward centers on their group identities -- and their competition to win Bella's heart.

I’ve been taking an amazing class at the Maxwell School this fall — Fundamentals of Conflict Studies with Pofessor Bruce Dayton. Among the requirements are two “external activity reports” that examine events of our choosing using the theory we learn in class.

I’ve attended several events recently that would make excellent fodder for conflict analysis, including a lecture by Ines Mergel that examined networks within organizations and how they can create and manage conflict.

However, perhaps recklessly and certainly in bad taste, I choose to focus on a movie – the spectacularly bad The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The third-installment in this teenybopper, melodramatic, vampire-love series is remarkable in that its subtext seems ripped from the pages of a conflict resolution textbook.

The characters in the movie are all trapped in conflict. Many of the conflicts would be defined as group identity conflicts, a major component of conflict from a cognitive perspective.  The conflicts also end up being transformed via several conflict resolution mechanisms —increased contact among the parties, the rise of an effective mediator, increased costs of continuing the conflict, and, most importantly, the forging of a “super identity” via the rise of a common enemy.
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