My son and I were driving through downtown Park Ridge, past the familiar marquis of the Pickwick Theatre, when he said “What the heck!…That’s new.”
“English Only Please” was written at the very top. “Is that a new policy?” he pondered?
“It’s probably a foreign film,” I said confidently, which a brief Internet search upon returning home confirmed. A delightful romantic comedy.
Which points out the importance of context and sensitivity to alternate perspectives in communications: Context of where and how a message is communicated is key. Think of how many politicians, actors and other public figures have been in hot water for something said, defending themselves by saying their words were taken out of context. Or, communications which seemed fine when only one homogenous group reviewed them, that created an outrage as racist or sexist or insensitive when presented to a broader audience.
In this case, it’s an immovable marquis on a movie theatre, so fairly safe that the words can’t be moved, so unlikely the words can be taken out of context. And, a basic rule of intercultural communications (aka any communication—as we all come from different experience) is to “assume positive intent.” Start from assuming there is no evil intent. But, unfortunately, one only has to turn on any of a wide range of news and talk shows to know that doesn’t mean that people won’t assume something negative. For the Pickwick, people who know them will know it’s a movie title. Others may imagine some sort of new policy or political stance on immigration.
Finally, for businesses, there is also value in building a brand or community presence that instills trust. If you know the Pickwick Theatre, you know that they are a good place (all movies $5 before 6 pm!), and that they often run foreign film festivals, particularly Filipino. On the part of the business, there is trust in the community.
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