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My Big Fat Greek Wedding follows a couple as they try to make their own life outside of their separate cultures. Although this movie is a comedy, the under lying theme fits perfectly with what is being taught in class. This film describes various topics that have been covered so far in this course. From stereotyping to ethnocentrism, there is something to be learned while watching this movie. While watching this movie once through could be good enough for most people, in order to analyze this movie properly it is imperative to watch it twice or three times through.
The movie opens with Toula, a 30 year old women who waits tables at her family’s restaurant, being picked up by her father, Gus, in a rainstorm. She has a flash back of her younger self in school where she felt like she didn’t fit in because of her culture. Gus had been constantly telling Toula that she was getting older and that she needed to get married. One day while waiting tables she met a guy named Ian. At first this didn’t go anywhere. Soon after this Toula decides she is very unhappy waiting tables at the restaurant and begs her father to let her go to run her aunt’s travel agency. After seeing Toula in the Travel agency Ian makes a move and stops in to see her.
This leads to the two becoming a couple. Soon after they started dating Gus found out and was instantly unimpressed. Ian was not Greek, in fact he had longer hair for a guy. Gus tried everything to break them up. He would invite Greek men to dinner for Toula to meet, but she was not interested to meet any other guys, her heart was set on Ian. Some time passes and Ian askes Toula to marry him. The family now has to accept Ian for what he his. After hearing of the engagement, Gus had Ian convert to their religion.
When it came time for the families to meet Ian brought his parents to Toula’s parent’s house. This was a Greek gathering, a lot of people, loud, and a lamb cooking in the front yard. This has Ian’s parents concerned for him.
When the wedding finally came everyone had a great time. It was a usual Greek shindig, loud and lots of laughter. The movie ends with Gus revealing his wedding gift to the couple, a house right next door to his.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding follows a couple who has to jump through all the obstacles of cross-cultural communication in present day culture. This movie is a great representation of the topics being discussed in this course. It explore topics like: ethnocentrism, collectivism vs. individualism, stereotype, cultural shock, prejudice, and uncertainty.
One of the most prevalent cultural topics displayed in the movie is ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism can be described as the tendency to put one’s culture on a pedal stool, and to create negative assumptions and behaviors towards another culture. Gus, the father, is shown to be the most ethnocentric of the group. He put his culture, Greek culture, above all other culture. He says this is the movie, “Three’s two kinds of people in this world; Greeks and everybody else who wish they were Greek”. He makes claims about how everything in the present world originates somehow back to the Greek culture. Although the movie portrays the Greeks being the most ethnocentric, the Americans, Ian and his parents, are shown to have this quality as well. They have this thought that American culture is all that there is, so much so they don’t recognize the differences in the two cultures.
In this movie we can undoubtedly pick out the concepts of collectivism vs. individualism. Toula’s family, the Greeks, represent the collectivistic culture. Being in a collectivistic culture means believing that a group’s values, norms, and beliefs are more important to that ofan individual’s. The movie portrays the Greek culture very family oriented. Instead of things being in the interest of an individual, things had to be in the best interest of the family as a whole. This movie had multiple family get togethers throughout its entirety and every time the whole family would be in attendance, including aunts, uncles, cousins, third cousins. This can be seen in the scene where Toula’s mother is talking about Toula’s private life with her aunt. The aunt exhibited a huge interest in Toula’s life as well as the rest of her family.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies heavily on stereotypes to portray each culture the way they do in the film. Stereotypes don’t always have to be hurtful or negatives, but are an over generalized assumption usually from someone of one culture to or about someone in another group. A quote from the beginning of the movie makes this point even more clear, “Nice Greek girls are supposed to do three things in their life: marry Greek boys, make Greek babies, and feed everyone until the day they die”. Here they are saying in order to be a Greek woman one must marry and Greek man and have Greek babies. They are also saying that they need to be able to cook, and cook enough for their whole family. This statement isn’t necessarily true, not all Greek women do all or even one of these things.
This film portrays a couple instances of cultural shock. Cultural shock is when someone experiences a new culture from their own and doesn’t know what to think. The scene that comes to mind when thinking of this topic is when the Millers are invited to Toula’s parents house to meet them. They were exposedto the Portokalos’s culture. They were overwhelmed with the amount of people that were there and concerned for their son. On the other hand, the Portokalos’swere very underwhelmed with the Miller’s lack of interest in their family and their American culture. This is a very typical when meeting people who are from a different culture. Typically a person who is introduced to a new culture will come off very uninterested and overwhelmed, but in reality they are still trying to piece together and take everything in. They aren’t always unimpressed. The Millers probably weren’t uninterested, they were probably just in culture shock and were trying to take everything in.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a great movie to watch to understand the theories and concepts being learned in COMS 4100 Cross-Cultural Communication. It may be a comedy, but the plot goes perfectly with the course. Watching this movie can be a useful tool in helping a person fully understand what they are being taught in class. It brings the topics to life by showing them and how they affect people on a screen.
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