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Transcript of MBFGW
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Race & Ethnicity
was born into a proud Greek family. At 30, she found it difficult to look for the “right one” as her family wants her to marry a Greek, Orthodox Christian man. She then falls in love with a non-Greek, non-Orthodox Christian man,
, and once her family found out about their relationship, they were upset. Soon after, Toula finally gets married to the man she loves after her family overcame the cultural difference.
Symbolic Interactionist View
Toula learnt the social norms from her friends (Differential Association Theory)
In Toula’s family, mostly anything which will affect the family’s future that does not relate to anything Greek is considered a deviance
: Toula aspires to follow the social norm in America being graduated from college and having a full time job that requires her knowledge in the field, which relates to the major in college
: Toula’s Greek culture prevents her form achieving such mainstream goals
E.g marry a Greek husband at a young age and have babies
: Toula felt wronged by society as she does not follow the social norms (e.g. eating sandwiches during lunch at school and having a blonde hair)
There are gossips about Toula’s relationship with a non-Greek man (Ian) from which was confirmed by Toula’s sister-in-law
Toula’s father avoided her because she had gone out from her Greek culture as she fell in love with Ian.
How does Toula’s family deal with her “deviant’ acts?
Toula grew up with constant reminders from her father
“Nice Greek girls are supposed to do 3 things in life: marry Greek boys, make Greek babies and feed everyone until the day we die”
“You should be proud to be Greek”
Father did not want her to pursue a career and just get married.
Agents of Socialisation
Agents of Socialisation
She did not sit with the blond pretty girls in her school when she was young which resulted to her feeling rejected and different.
Charles H. Cooley
Theory of Looking-Glass Self
1. Imagined herself to appear in front of others
She defines herself as different and ugly.
The other girls were blond and delicate and I was a swarthy six year old with sideburns.”
2. Interpret others’ reaction
She interpret the way the blond pretty girls look at her differently when they made fun of her food.
3. Developed a self concept
Therefore she developed a self concept that being a Greek is weird.
He agreed to be baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Tries to fit in and get along with Toula’s family for them to accept him.
Ian gets used to their traditions. During gatherings, it involves the whole big family.
As she grows up, she learnt the basic norms of what the average American eats and dress like.
In college, she ate sandwiches like what her other friends ate
She dresses more like an average American girl.
Race & Ethnicity
Myths of Race:
Protection of ethnical identity
Toula’s dad kept reiterating about the Greek’s influence in the English language and always finding ways to prove that the origins of a word has Greek connections.
He also believed that the Greeks were the pioneers of astronomy, philosophy and democracy.
Shows sense of pride
Toula’s family were orthodox Greek
Would not accept any outsiders into the family
Father was livid when he found Toula’s boyfriend was not an orthodox Greek
Family disapproval of non-Greek boyfriend
Symbolic Interactionist View
Sending Toula to Greek school
Toula’s parents feeding their children Greek food
The belief that Greek women should only be married to Greek men and have Greek children.
To ensure that the Greek lineage would not be contaminated
Ensure continuation of pure Greeks
Painting of Greek flag on garage door
Owners of Greek restaurant
Travel agency specialized on trips to Greek
They want to create an in-group solidarity among the Greeks
To show that the Greeks supersedes the rest
Labeling x Perception = Prejudice
Ian’s parents being ignorant by mistaking a Guatemalan to be a Greek
Labeling a race outside theirs as the same
Lack of knowledge about other races and ignorance causes them to think that way
Toula’s family takes pride in their ethnical heritage due to being immigrants
By leaving ‘homeland’, they’ve become nationalists dictating what it means to be Greek
"the language, beliefs, values and behavior and even material objects passed from one generation to the next.”
Future of Culture
(Toula’s family’s culture):
Subculture of the large American dominant mainstream culture.
“A sense of disorientation when your culture fails to help you make sense of the world.”
When Ian and his family first visited Toula’s family, they clearly had a culture shock.
During the wedding, Ian’s parents were stunned by the enthusiasm and energy given off by Toula’s family. They were showing signs of displeasure.
“The tendency to use our own culture’s ways of doing things as the yardsticks for judging other cultures.”
Toula’s family(especially Toula’s father) were initially very ethnocentric and thought of the American culture to be inferior.
Toula's father: "There are 2 kinds of people- Greeks and everyone else who wish they were Greek."
"Greeks should educate non-Greeks about being Greek."
Refers to Ian as a "Xeno".
Rejected Ian initially because he was American.
Toula had to lie to her parents to see Ian.
Introduces suitors to Toula after finding out about Ian.
“trying to appreciate & understand other cultures on one’s own terms, in their own contexts without judging them as superior or inferior to his/her own”
Ians's family accepts Toula, meets her family and complies to the Greeks' hospitality by accepting toasts.
Toula’s family accepts Ian’s family as their own.
Allowing Ian to be baptized in their Church.
Toula’s family offering Ian’s parents many drinks as a form of hospitality in Greek Culture.
: "… we all different,but,in the end,we all fruit."
"Process whereby characteristics of a culture are incorporated into another when 2 different cultures come into contact"
“Norms and values that are at odds with the dominant culture.”
The American Culture is seen as the counterculture of the main culture of the movie, the Greek culture.
Norms and values are vastly different from the Greek culture seen in the movie.
Daughters to “marry a Greek boy”
Make Greek babies, and feed everyone until the day she dies.”.
Sons to marry a "Greek Virgin"
Extended family is "always in each other's lives and business."
Weddings have to be grand and held in their church.
The father is the head of the household (Controls family members’ lifestyle).
Children have more freedom in choice of marriage
Have small families.
Children have more freedom in their lives, allowed to make their own choices.
Extended families less involved in each other’s lives.
Weddings can be held in any manner desired
Parents seem to have equal "power".
refers to social characteristics
what society considers as proper behaviours and attitudes for males and females
"behave according to widely shared expectations about how males and females are supposed to act"
Dad to Toula
: You better
get married soon
. You are starting to look old.”
: “Nice Greek girls are supposed to do three things in life.
a Greek boy,
make Greek babies
until the day we die.”
: “Greek girls who don’t find a husband work in the family restaurant.”
: “My brother has two jobs – to cook (in the family restaurant) and to
marry a Greek virgin
Toula’s sister to Toula
while her brother, Nick, talks: “For God’s sake,
Toula, let the man talk
. Why are you always so stubborn?”
“males and females unequal access to power, prestige and property on the basis of sex”
Origins of Patriarchy
In the Greek family, the women are only expected to produce Greek babies and education is not a priority.
Effects of Patriarchy
Toula wanted to further her studies
Disallowed by her father
Need to marry a Greek boy
Gender Inequality in Education
Toula to Dad
: “Dad, I’ve been going through our inventory and I’ve noticed that we’ve been doing a lot of unnecessary ordering. So I’ve been thinking, maybe we should update our system, like we could get a computer. I don’t know if you remember but I got all As in computers but there’s a lot of new stuff to learn now so if you want,
I could go to college and take a few courses
Dad to Toula
: “Why do you want to leave me?”
Toula to Dad
: “I’m not leaving you. Don’t you want me to do something with my life?”
Dad to Toula
: “Oh, yes!
Get married! Make babies!
Ian to Toula
: “Actually, I
wasn’t in education
first, I was in law. My dad’s a lawyer. My grandfather’s a lawyer and it just wasn’t for me so I picked a new major.”
Nick to Toula
: “I went by the college and picked this up. Look, I’m going to start slowly, take a couple of night courses, and I just wanted to learn more about
painting and artsy stuff
not expected to further their studies
expected to marry quickly, take care of household needs
allowed to pursue their interests
does not have to marry quickly
Dad to Nick
: "You have plenty of time."
: Toula has the pressures of inner controls toward her culture
: She also has the pressures of outer controls toward her friends (to follow social norms) and family (to maintain cultural norms)
Violates family’s cultural norms
Henslin, M. J. (2013). Essentials of Sociology: A down-to-earth approach (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ; Pearson.
Toula went against her father's words to attend college to attain a degree.
Toula desires to follow the social norm in America.
eg: to have a degree
She replaces a part of her current lifestyle with the social norm to fit into the society.
She deviates from her Greek culture.
There were flyers that encouraged her to go to college and further her studies which her father did not allow at first.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding [Motion picture]. (2002). USA: IFC Films.