10 Theories of Communication in NCIS from the Episode, Heartland

In communication theory, theories are taught that many students don’t realize they already do . Students learn the names behind their actions . There are many different movies and TV shows that show these theories in action . NCIS is one of those shows . In NCIS there is a team put together of the best agents around . They all work together for a common goal but the communication is always evident . Whether it is sexual tension to yelling or crying, there is always something going on . There are certain theories that were defined in class that have perfect examples .

There is one specific episode of NCIS that has all of these theories in it, Heartland . The episode is about, Marine Corporal Kelvin Taylor was killed outside a bar by a single blow . His secretive mate Marine Corporal Ethan Lacombe survived many and graver wounds in the same violent attack, and may have been the target . Lacombe was from mine town (Stillwater), Gibbs’ Pennsylvania birthplace that he left in 1976 without contacting his father, grocer Jackson . Ethan also joined the corps, even his family assumed the former adventurous bad boy dead by now . The team is no less interested in Jethro’s background, but he investigates with professional suspicion .

Symbolic Interactionism is, the point of view that claims society predates individuals, who acquire minds and selves in the process of interaction symbolically with other members of a culture . Symbols are also necessary to the functioning and continuation of collective life . George Herbert Mead believed that symbols were the basis of individual identity . In his opinion, individuals can acquire identity only by interacting with others . In Symbolic Interactionism there are many different aspects that make this theory whole such as; mind, self, Looking Glass Self, Self Fulfilling Prophecy, I, me, role taking, Particular others and Generalized others .

When Mead thinks of Self, what he is talking about is, the ability to reflect on one self from the perspective of others . There are different things that go into Self such as Looking Glass Self and Self Fulfilling Prophecy . Looking Glass Self is the image of oneself that one gains by seeing the self-mirrored in others’ eyes . Self Fulfilling Prophecy is when individuals live up to the labels others impose on them . When the individual can respond to his own gesture and behavior from the perspective of the other, that response includes an awareness of ones self, or self-conscious .

Then there is, I and Me, which is a dialectic process which arises when there is a problem between the community perspective and the private perspective of the individual

I is the phrase or part of self that is impulsive, creative, and unconstrained by social norms and knowledge . Me is the phrase or part of self that is socially aware, analytical, and evaluative . They complement each other and cannot work alone .

In NCIS the whole group is involved with this theory but mostly Gibbs shows it . Gibbs always goes with his gut so he using the I method . He doesn’t really stop and think about what he is doing . He just does what he wants when he wants . Now since it’s a TV show it always works out in the end but in real life he wouldn’t be so lucky . Now some may say that Gibbs knows what he is doing so he is using the Me method . It is really hard to tell because from the point of view of the audience it does seem to be on whim but from the point of view of his team, Gibbs knows what he is doing . There really is no right answer into exactly what he is doing whether it is Me or I but he is for sure doing one of them . In the episode Heartland, Gibbs is told about a connection to an old “friend” of his with a murder . Gibbs starts to leave automatically and Gibbs’s father says, “You’re not going to walk up there and start accusing people, are you?” Gibbs responds with the sarcastic, “I thought I’d drive . ” This shows how Gibbs only uses his I and has no care about the rules . He makes his own rules and those are the only one he follows .

Social Exchange Theory is when we look at our relationships and we find a net outcome, to see if the rewards outweigh the costs . In this episode Social Exchange Theory comes into play when we figure out who the killer was . Gibbs and the team arrest the man who hired the killers . The man hired the men because the man that was supposed to be killed was his wife’s boyfriend when they were younger . The man never got over the fact that they dated and always believed that his wife and the man had sexual relations while dating . He couldn’t stand the fact that he was alive and wanted him dead . We also see this with the father, chuck, because the man who was supposed to be killed was chuck’s son . Chuck’s son and daughter who didn’t know they were related were together . Chuck never tells anyone that the boy was his son because he would have to give some of his fortune to him .

Social Penetration Model shows all the different layers of a person similar to the layers of an onion . The different layers are; Superficial layers (Likes and dislikes in clothes, music, etc…), Middle layers (Political views, social attitudes, etc…), Inner layers (Spiritual values, deep fears, hopes, goals, fantasies, secrets, etc…), Core personality (Most basic self) . People don’t show all their layers at first . It takes a lot of time to get to that point .

The Social Penetration Model is shown in an episode named Heartland when the team meets Gibbs’s father and go back to Gibbs’s hometown . There they meet all of Gibb’s old “friends” and learn a little bit more about what makes Gibbs, Gibbs . They also get to see the core Gibbs as he engages with his father . He acts almost as if he was still a child because he is with his father and back in his hometown . This is completely different from the Gibbs that they are used to . They are used to the hardcore Gibbs who doesn’t take no for an answer . It is interesting to see how different Gibbs acts just because he is with his father .

Performance Ethnography attempts to understand how symbolic behaviors actually perform- and sometimes challenge- cultural values and personal identities .

Performance Ethnography is a tool for both, the audience and artist that is used to explore humanity and it’s meanings . It studies the why of what we do and shows that, everyone has a different why for making art and everyone that sees it gets a different meaning to them .

The Hermeneutic Circle has four different parts . It goes in the following order:

Trying to understand from Distance-experience- Trying to understand from Near-

experience- gaining Point of view- translation from near to distant experience- outsiders observing- outside ethnographer’s culture . NCIS always does this when they have to go undercover . They will watch the subject and try to act in the same matter as they would . In this specific episode the hermeneutic circle comes up a lot . All of the team has to look at the whole town and look at all the different aspects . The thing about this episode is it keeps changing and taking unexpected turns . The whole team has to look at the whole picture before entering the situation and getting warrants .

Feminist Theory is concerned with gender and gender inequities . Contemporary feminists are concerned that women don’t yet have equal representation in the lawmaking institutions of society, equal respect and equal treatment from their husbands during homemaking and childcare . There is a perfect example of this in the episode when Jackson Gibbs, (Gibbs Father), offers to give Emily a hand taking in the dishes . Emily who is chucks daughter is handling all of the dishes from the dining room . When Jackson offers chuck says, O that’s women’s work Jack, take a load off . He then asks Emily to get some glasses so that they can have a drink . You can clearly see Chuck disrespecting females by saying that cleaning and taking care of the men is women’s work . The fact that it’s his own daughter that he is speaking that way to shows the way he thinks of women .

Narrative Paradigm is, symbolic actions-words and/or deeds- that have sequence and meaning for those who live, create, or interpret them . This is a very broad definition as it basically defines it as the study of everyone and everything telling a story . While it is broad, it is also correct . Narrative Theory happens when anyone tells a story . Walter Fisher describes Narrative Paradigm as having these facts; People are essentially storytellers . People make decisions based on good reasons .

History, biography, culture, and character determine what we consider good reasons . Narrative rationality is determined by the coherence and fidelity of our stories . The world is a set of stories from which we choose, and constantly re-create, our lives .

The team does a lot of story telling in this episode . They all have never heard about Gibbs’s father so they all ponder where he appeared . It is hard to believe he was a boy at some point . Also, Gibbs and his father spend much of the episode either remembering stories with flashbacks or listening to them telling stories . Gibbs often has flashbacks in this episode to where he met his future wife and the fights that he got into with the current suspects in the murder case .

In this episode and in many others, all of these theories are used . These theories aren’t just used on TV though; they are used everyday by regular people in almost any conversation that is had . This particular episode of NCIS was best because it had to do with a small town and family . People are there core-selves when they are with their family, which is why people can get to know them best that way . Gibbs was far from his normal self when around his father . Jackson brought out the kid in Gibbs, which was very interesting to see because of how different he is every other day . While these theories are used in everyday life, they were portrayed very well in this episode .

Works Cited

  • McClelland, Kent. “Symbolic Interactionism”. 16 February 2010 .
  • Blumer, Herbert. Symbolic Interactionism; Perspective and Method. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969. Print.
  • Woods, Julia T. Communication Theories In Action. Canada: Thomson Wadsworth, 2004.
  • Miller, David L. George Herbert Mead: Self, Language, and the World. Austin: David L. Miller, 1973. Print.
  • Stuhr, John J., ed. Classical American Philosophy: Essential Readings
    and Interpretive Essays. New York: Oxford University, 1987.
  • “”Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service” Heartland (2008) – Plot Summary.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 28 Apr. 2010. .