Part 1: Introduction My Big Fat Greek Weeding is a romantic comedy film which is centered on Fotoula“Toula” Portokalos, a middle class Greek American woman who falls in love with a non-Greek upper class “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant” lan Miller. Toula is a dull girl, being a waitress in the restaurant. She desperately wants to throw the yoke of her family, and with the help of her mother and aunt, she is able to be educated in college. She begins to curl her hair, dress carefully, and get the job she wants in her aunt’s travel agency, where Miller meets her and fall in love with her.
However, Toula’s father forbids this man to meet his daughter, just because the man is not a Greek. Toula’s father is an extreme patriot. He believes that there are only two kinds of people in the world: One part is someone who is Greek, the other part is someone who wants to be a Greek. Besides, he confirms that every word is generated from Greek. According to that, we can find out that Toula’s father is very strict, persistent and conservative.
Part 2: Analysis To understand why Toula’s father strongly disapproves of this marriage at first, we had to be clear about her father’s background. He is a Turk. He married with Toula’s mother. In order to blend into this big Greek family, he gave up many habits and does a lot of self-surrender things. He studied Greek tradition and culture. He did all these things just because of Toula’s mother. He loves Toula very much, so he wants Toula to marry a Greek man and live an easy life, constantly beseeches her to get married to a Greek man, have Greek children and stay at home. Unfortunately, Toula has different plans: She wants to have a career and additionally, she is engaged to the American Ian Miller who she got to know recently.
Toula didn’t stop meeting Lan, her father is so angry and hurt and regard his daughter’s behavior is insulting him. Toula’s mother is a woman with wisdom. She told Toula that in the house, the man is the head, but the woman is the neck, who can decide where the head wants to turn. With the mediation of her mother, Toula’s father reluctantly agreed to that affair. Then Toula invited Lan’s family to have a dinner. Lan’s parents are typical bourgeois, who are not demonstrative enough, expect after they are drunken. To their surprise, Toula’s whole family came, around 30 people, and they are so noisy, enthusiastic, making a sharp contrast to them. When Toula’s father asked them to eat some roasted mutton, they said they are vegetarians. Toula’s father does not grasp English terms very well, so he is very kind and continued to add, “No matter, we still have roasted lamb.”
Part 3: reasons and causes The most important factor that drives Toula’ father to adapt the intercultural marriage, I think, is the spirit of inclusion of Miller. The Greek nation are religious, united, and proud. Therefore, Toula feels ashamed about her family at first, because she is afraid Miller will be disgusted with her family. However, we can see from the movie that Miller is a gentleman indeed. He represents American culture which can tolerate all kinds of culture and keep itself unique.
When Toula’s father shouted at him, “You can’t date my daughter. Just can’t!” He didn’t throw a fit, but just walked away quietly. To be more close to a Greek man, he received the percepts, and learn the Greek language. When Toula’s father saw this scene, he joked with his wife, “When he is running in the forests, we are learning the philosophy.” Toula’s cousin also likes to make fun of Miller, letting him embarrassed in the public. Miller never loses his temper, he is also happy for other families are happy. Toula’s father is touched by this easy-going man, and he treated him like a real relative. He taught him to use glass water to ease breakouts, which is traditionally a Grecian way. Miller also gives up an American country club wedding, to accomplish Toula’s father’s wish that marrying his daughter in a beautiful church.
Part 4: conclusion The movie actually deals with cross-cultural misunderstandings, prejudices and problems between the generations. Furthermore, it is pointed out that cross-cultural problems can easily be avoided when both parties are ready to understand and accept each other opinion and cultural identity. Toula’s father, for example, feels personally attacked by the decision of his daughter not to get married to a Greek man. But the fact that Ian even gets baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church for the sake of Toula and her family convinces Gus in the end that he deserves to get married to his beloved daughter. The Portokalos clan is portrayed as the stereotypical Greek family: They are loud, crazy, greedy, chaotic, chatty, old-fashioned, warm-hearted, proud of their origin and ancestors, caring, vivacious, fiery etc. Certain characters like the one of Gus are a caricature of stereotypical Greek people but nevertheless Joel Zwick achieves to create culturally informative characters.
It seems as though these exaggerations are necessary in order to make the differences between the Greek and the American culture visible and understandable for the audience. When Ian’ s parents, for example, meet the Portokalos clan, the differences between the two cultures become obvious. Ian’s parents are the exact opposite of the Greek clan; they are extremely introverted, silent, conservative, reserved etc. Despite the problems at first, the two families learn to adapt very well to each other’s culture. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is highly recommendable since it provides interesting (cross-)cultural insights. Furthermore, the movie shows how misleading the misinterpretation of the values and the attitudes of a foreign culture can be. The message of the movie is to be tolerant when confronted with a foreign culture.