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Copy of My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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on 2 December 2014

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Transcript of Copy of My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Rachel, Jo, Makenna, Stephanie
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
In America it is unusual to live with one’s parents at thirty years old; and even more unusual to have to ask your father for permission to take some classes. But because of the influence of their Greek culture, it would be considered outlandish to move out of your parents’ house if you weren’t living with your spouse. As a single woman, Tulla has little authority over her future; her family expects her to marry a good Greek man and they expect her brothers to marry good Greek women.
Every culture has their own sex roles, a mix of “feminine” and “masculine” value patterns. Beyond generalizations, each family’s religion, location and their ancestors’ traditions all impact their specific opinions on what those gender roles are. Feminine cultures are cultures that have more flexible sex roles. Masculine cultures stress the importance of complementary sex roles, one gender does this and the other gender does that. An obvious cultural bump between Toula and Ian’s families is their culture’s differing gender expectations.
Gender Roles
Just from watching the movie, it’s hard to say what Ian and his parents believe gender roles are. Assuming they are stereotypical Americans, they follow more feminine value patterns. Toula’s family, and their Greek culture, holds onto masculine value patterns. Understanding the impact different gender roles play on intercultural relationships shows how important those roles are to each culture.
The clash between Toula’s father and Ian stems from the fact that Ian does not come from a Greek family. Gus struggles to accept this, because of the differences between Greek and American culture.
One of the key cultural value differences is the dimension of individualism-collectivism.
In the film, Ian brings Toula home to have dinner with his family, which ends up being just his parents. Later, Toula decides that it is a good time to introduce Ian’s parents to her family, and several examples of individualism-collectivism occur in this scene.
After Gus meets Ian’s family for the first time, he says, “We try to be nice to them, but they look at us like we’re from the zoo…this no work…. they are different people…so dry”. He cannot handle that Ian’s family is different than his.
People in Individualist societies, like the U.S., tend to look out for themselves and direct family.
While collectivist cultures have more of a ‘we’ attitude, and place a higher value on the extended family (uncles, aunts, cousins, Grandparents). The institution of family carries a higher importance in Greek culture.
The Hofstede Centre gave the U.S. a score of 91 for individualism, and Greece a score of 35, making Greece a ‘collectivist’ culture.

Individualism-Collectivism Cultural Value Pattern
Collectivist vs. Individualist
Intercultural Communication
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Release Date: August 2 ,2002
Plot of Movie: Everyone in the Portokalos family worries about Toula. Still unmarried at 30 years old, she works at the Greek restaurant owned by her parents, Gus and Maria . After taking a job at her aunt's travel agency, she falls in love with Ian Miller, a teacher who is tall, handsome and definitely not Greek. Toula isn't sure which will be more upsetting to her father, that Ian is a foreigner or that he's a vegetarian.
Cultural Traditions
1. Toula says “come for a quiet dinner and meet my parents” , implying that it would just be her, Ian, and both sets of parents meeting for dinner. But when Toula’s mother is asked to prepare a dinner, she invites whole family, including dozens of extended family members.
2. Ian is an only child, and only brings his parents to dinner. Meanwhile, Toula’s father introduces his three brothers and their wives, who each have three kids, as well as over a dozen other family members.
3. When Toula’s father is welcoming them to his home, he begins introducing all the family members, instead of introducing himself first.
4. When Ian’ s family arrives, the whole party stops what their doing and comes over to meet them as a group.
5. When Toula’s aunt first meets Ian’s parents, she immediately says “Now you are family”. She then proceeds to tell Ian’s parents all about her health problem, information that someone form American culture would typically not feel comfortable disclosing to someone they’ve just met.
6. The family frequently says “Opa!!” together
7. Greek Collectivism is also demonstrated in the end of the film when Toula’s parents buy a house for her and Ian.

For most of the film, Toula's father has an ethnocentric attitude toward Ian which stems from his culture's importance of traditions, rigid gender roles and different cultural value characteristics. Whereas Ian has an ethnorelative attitude because of his desire to be accepted into Toula's family.
Film Clip
Film Clip
Things Below the Surface
At the beginning of the movie, Gus had a very ethnocentric way of thinking. He believed that the Greeks were the greatest civilization and that preserving the Greek identity is the most important thing.
But you can see that his perspective has changed from beginning to end. During his speech he finally accepts the reality of the situation: that Toula is going to marry Ian, and that Ian, who was willing to convert, is going to be a permanent part of his family.
Grain, grapes, and olives are central to the diet, supplemented with eggs, cheese, yogurt, fish, lamb, goat, chicken, rice, and fruits and vegetables.
Certain foods are emblematic of the national identity, including moussaka, baklava, thick coffee, and resinated wine ( retsina ).
Coffee-houses have long functioned as daily gathering places for men.
Dining out has gained in popularity, with a corresponding increase in the number and variety of restaurants.
Guests must always be offered refreshment, and all major ceremonies involve food.
A high value is placed on economic flexibility, being one's own boss, and family-run enterprises.
Families are fundamental units of support and identity, and marriage is considered the normal condition of adulthood. With the exception of monastic orders and the upper echelons of the clergy, nearly all people marry.
Arranged marriages in which parents negotiated spouses, dowries, and inheritance for their children were once common but have declined. Marriages are monogamous, and the average age at marriage is the late twenties for women and the mid-thirties for men.
The Orthodox Church of Greece is officially designated the religion of the nation.
The family-based household unit is the most important kinship group. Bilateral kindreds (loose networks of kin on the mother's and father's sides) provide a larger but less cohesive source of identity and support. Ritual kin in the form of godparents and wedding sponsors retain a special relationship throughout a person's life.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship
So what was the clip about?
The clip shows a brief scene between Gus, the father, and the girls (Toula and her friends) in the car.
Mr. Portokalos is explaining how all words have Greek roots, and even when presented with a foreign word, he still managed to make it Greek.
This shows his ethnocentrism and how he is unable to look past his Greek heritage.
Bigger Picture Here
Because Toula’s family is invested in Toula’s life, their ideas of gender roles impact her. Throughout the film, Toula is frustrated with her family.
Toula also feels exasperated with her father when she asks if she can further her education by taking a few computer classes. Toula’s father walks out on the conversation, leaving her mother to comfort her. Even though her father is the authority figure, her mother has more control than anyone will admit out loud.
In the movie, Toula never realized the power her mother had until she convinces Toula’s father to allow Toula to take the classes. Toula wants her father’s blessing, both for classes and for her marriage; this is more important for her than Ian but because he values her, he seeks out her father’s blessing.
Highlight the differences between the Greek and American values, traditions, and norms.

Understand the importance of gender roles within the different communities.

Identify the aspects of individualism vs. collectivism within the two cultures.

The End
Full transcript