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Intercultural relationships are relations that occur between people of different cultures. Karis and Killian (2008) observe that cultural differences make conflicts inevitable in such interactions. When conflicts occur in intercultural relations, it takes much effort from the involved parties to resolve the conflicts. There are various intercultural-based movies depicting relationships between couples. Movies based on intercultural relations are a useful educational resource for issues relating to intercultural relations.
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Jungle Fever – A Romantic Thriller Movie
Jungle Fever is a 1991 American film based on cultural conflicts between the American and the Italian cultures. The cross-cultural conflicts in the movie arise from gaping cultural differences between the American and Italian cultures, differences that significantly influence the turns taken by a heterosexual relationship between a couple made up of people from two contrasting cultures. In the movie, Flipper Purify is a wealthy Afro-American man who works as an architect in a large architectural firm in New York. He falls in love with Angie Tucci who is a secretary in the same firm. Flipper is married to Drew and has a daughter named Ming. His family lives in a prestigious American suburb, referred to as Strives Row (Lee, 1991).

Angie’s family, on the other hand, lives in a middle-level low-income suburb where she shares a midsized house with her two brothers and father (Lee, 1991). After the family and friends of Flipper and Angie discover their love affair, numerous conflicts arise, and the cultural difference between these two communities surface.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Two Intercultural Conflicts between the Couple
There are several instances where cultural differences spark conflicts between Flipper and Angie. One of these conflicts occur when Angie criticizes Flipper’s social life and odd cultures where men go to the kitchen, cook, and tend to their families (Lee, 1991). According to Angie and her culture, men are supposed to stay off the kitchen and be tended to by women. She has to cook for her brothers and father every day after getting home from work. Her brothers cannot cook or go to the kitchen even if they are starving. They have to wait for Angie to come and cook for them (Lee, 1991). Apparently, Angie cannot believe that Flipper enjoys cooking and helping her wife in the kitchen. The debate triggers arguments and conflicts severally in the movie.

A major conflict characterized by a heated argument between the couple also occurs when the two disagree on how they should react to their families and friends finding out about their secret love affair. When Flipper narrates to Angie how his wife kicked, cursed, and threw things out of the window while insulting him for his infidelity, Angie is dumb stricken (Lee, 1991). She also finds it difficult to believe that Drew, Flipper’s wife, had the courage to do all this in front of all their neighbors. According to Angie, this is wrong and a big show of disrespect to Flipper.

Angie suggests that Flipper needs to react in a more masculine and violent manner. In her Italian culture, women are supposed to fully respect men and never raise their voices on them. She feels that Flipper is too soft, and he needs to man up (Lee, 1991). Angie’s persistent criticism does not please Flipper, and their relationship takes a downturn, with Flipper sternly warning Angie to stay away from his family. This conflict is triggered by different perceptions of feminism/masculinity between the two cultures.

Cultural Conflicts between the Couple and Other Groups
Cultural differences between the communities where the two come from lead to conflicts between them and other groups in the society. One of these conflicts is between the couple, and Angie’s family roasts her and condemns her relationship with Flipper, who they refer to as a nigger (Lee, 1991). Angie’s father beats her for this relationship with Flipper and at some point, her brothers threaten to kill Flipper if he makes their sister pregnant (Lee, 1991). According to Angie’s father and brothers, their culture does not allow heterosexual relationships with married men.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

The other conflict occurs between the couple and Flipper’s family and community. Led by Flipper’s wife’s close friends, they disapprove the relationship with some of Flipper’s workmates further seeking to have him demoted for his infidelity (Lee, 1991). They feel that his relationship with Angie, who was a junior officer in the company, was compromising the performance of the two. Most of Flipper’s neighbors who are Americans feel that a man should stick to one woman, and the affair with Angie was a direct contravention of their culture.

How the Cultural Conflicts Originated Around/About the Relationship
The intercultural conflicts outlined above arises from the relationship since the affair was illegitimate. According to Flipper’s American culture, it is wrong for him to initiate an affair with Angie because he is a married man. He is supposed to stick to his wife and family. Conversely, Angie’s family does not approve of her relationship with Flipper who was black, and married as well. Angie is supposed to find herself an educated man, most preferably from her Italian culture, and date him.

How the Characters Responded To the Conflict
All the characters reacted negatively to the conflict. No one seemed to approve the relationship due to the gaping cultural and social differences between the couple. As such, the relationship was not supposed to happen. The couple was advised by most people to terminate the relationship.

Positive and Negative Outcomes of Having a Multicultural Relationship
There are both positive and adverse consequences of having a multicultural relationship. Of these benefits is that you learn cultures from different parts of the world which enhances social intelligence. Cultural knowledge aids a person’s ability to work in a globalized context (Karis & Killian, 2008). The major shortcoming with a multicultural relationship is the eminent risk of cultural conflicts that are likely to compromise the relationship. Crashing cultural values often result in clashes in a relationship. It is hard for the couple to always accommodate each other’s culture, and thus conflicts are unavoidable (Karis & Killian, 2008).

In sum, intercultural relationships are common in the current globalized world. Conflicts often mar cross-cultural relationships due to cultural differences. The film, Jungle Fever, highlights conflicts surrounding a heterosexual relationship between an American man and an Italian woman. These conflicts significantly influence this relationship and reveal the cultural differences between the two communities.


Karis, T., & Killian, K. (2008). Intercultural couples: Exploring diversity in intimate relationships. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.

Lee, S. (Producer), & Lee, S. (Director). (1991). Jungle fever [Motion picture]. USA: Universal Studios, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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