My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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Massive movements of people led to the emergence of the phenomenon of intermarriage and problems associated with it. In such a multiethnic country as the United States of America, intermarriage is a common phenomenon; thus, knowing and then correctly interpreting the psychological characteristics of people in a multi-ethnic family is an important task for the scientists and social workers. Unfortunately, there is no accurate statistics. In addition, the current national situation also has a negative effect on this problem. However, it is clear that the appeal of such marriages is quite high.

Family is the foundation of a person’s relations with the members of other ethnic communities, and many things in people’s lives depend on the kind of this relationship. In a family, a young person becomes the bearer of traditions and habits as well as social and moral values of the nation to which he/she belongs. When one deals with multinational family, this process is ambivalent in the extreme. History knows many examples when ethnic communities being at the difficult stages of their development or of sufficiently ancient origin, used multinational marriages to replenish or strengthen the genetic potential to survive or gain new strength for further development. Sure, one can graciously and with humor cope with this problem, but it is not as simple as it looks at first glance since ethnic roots somehow affect, manifest, and become a source of human tragedies.

Until the middle of the 19th century, family was seen as the initial micro model of the society and social relations were derived from family. Society, in its turn, was interpreted as overgrown broad patriarchal family with the appropriate attributes such as authoritarianism, property, subordination, etc. In ethnography, there accumulated extensive material reflecting national characteristics of family relationships. For example, in ancient Greece, monogamy dominated, families were numerous, and incest taboo was in force (Haviland, Prins, McBride, and Walrath 211-213). Father was a maste of his wife, children, and concubines. Men possessed greater rights than women. For treason, women were exposed to a severe punishment; however, a Spartan could give his wife to any guest who asked him about it. Children of other men remained in the family if they were healthy boys.

The idea of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) is to show that there exists love without prejudices, borders, and stereotypes. America, being “a country of immigrants”, often makes these films endorsing by numerous diasporas in the country. It is a good picture of how an American and a flamboyant Greek fought for their right to be together, successfully promoting the idea of tolerance. Portokalos is a Greek family; they have lived in America for decades and do not want to become americanized. Gus Portokalos is a head of the family is; he is very devoted to his historical roots and does not let his family become fully integrated into the new world. His daughter Toula only by 30 years could understand the reason of her loneliness and miserable life: it is love to her family and dependence on her father’s opinion.

The starting point of a person’s readiness for marriage and family formation is the understanding of the importance of family relations, liabilities for each other, responsibility for the family and children, the voluntary acceptance of the inevitable during family life hassles, and restrictions of personal freedom. Clearly, all these characteristics have their national expression. One can say that each ethnic community develops its own ideas about these characteristics and is committed to supporting them in the national consciousness, traditions, actions, and attitudes of representatives of its own race (Renalds 7-10). This process is quite complicated. It is carried by the laws of each ethnic community and is broken down into a series of sequential steps, including:

1) Primary familiarity with family life, its psychology, and formation of its notion, especially if the people getting married are members of different ethnic communiities;

2) The formation of views on the one’s own family as a multinational unit;

3) Implementation of one’s own ideas about the multinational family in marriage;

4) The accumulation of experience of family life within a multinational environment;

5) Further improvement of family relations in multinational bonds.

In all this, the dynamics of the marital relationship and its national identity are of paramount importance.

In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), one can see that in Toula’s family, women traditionally get married at an early age. Their responsibility is to be the guardian of the family members’ hearth, give birth to the children and, perhaps, be busy with a family business. With the commitment to patriarchy and the need to marry, it is not surprising that Toula’s father was against her further education. However, precisely because of her perseverance, she met her soul mate. Toula’s groom, Ian, has a completely different family. They are vegetarians and profess a different faith. It would seem that their marriage is impossible in such circumstances. However, love was stronger than the obstacles the couple has met on their way. It is possible that the wedding took place thanks to the tolerance and love of Ian. After all, it is he who had to turn to the faith of Toula’s family; he had to agree to all the clauses of the wedding. At the first stage of the marital relationship formation, there usually occurs inherent for each ethnic community social role and an interpersonal adaptation to family life. It is the initial entry into the spiritual world of each other, mutual addiction, distribution of social roles, as well as setting up housekeeping. It is Ian who had to adapt and get used to the Greek family. A couple, Ian and Toula, as seen in the film, together render the decisions, but the final word belongs to the man. Sometimes, the final decision makes Toula’s father.

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