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Intercultural Communication in the Movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”

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    Intercultural Communication in the Movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”

                Intercultural Communication is necessary for different cultures to understand and accept the differences in their culture. Cultural sharing is the main medium of intercultural communication. Symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations and norms of behaviors are examples of culture that are shared freely in various groups of people. Intercultural communication is an important aspect in communication today due to globalization. More and more countries everyday mingles with each other and due to cultural and language barriers, misunderstanding usually arises.

                The movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a good example of intercultural clash due to poor intercultural communication. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a story of a Greek girl named Toula, who fell in love with Ian, a white anglo saxon protestant. Toula’s family is a very conservative Greek family. Toula’s father forbades Toula to go out with any other man except if they are Greek. Toula’s father is an example of a Greek man who feels superiority being Greek. He believes other nationalities are inferior. An example of this whenever Toula’s father tells the etymology of words, he emphasizes that English words have root words that came from Greek. This is a proof of cultural identification. A hilarious example of this was shown in the movie when he was explaining where the English word arachnophobia came from. The funny part is when Toula’s friend asks where the word “kimono”, which is a Japanese derived word, came from and still Toula’s father continued his long dialogue of the etymology of words. It was also very ironic to see Toula’s father rely on “Windex”, a type of glass surface cleaner which is made in the United States. Toula’s father relied heavily on “Windex” as a remedy for everything he may think of. It is also ironic for Toula’s father to bring his mother to the United States of America.

                Toula, born in a Greek family is required to marry a Greek and bore many children. It was also expected for a Greek woman to uneducated because Greek family felt it was unnecessary because they are going to marry anyways. This was shown when Toula painstakingly ask her father to study in college as if she was looking for a needle in a haystack. It was also showed that Toula’s father thinks that ladies are stupid, which an evident form of stereotyping. This is a obstacle in intercultural communications especially when one is exposed to a culture wherein male and female stereotyping is not prominent.

    Intercultural communication is a very important part of interracial marriage. Toula’s was forbidden by her father to marry or even mingle with non-Greeks; however in the course of the movie, Toula met Ian and they suddenly got into each other. When Toula’s father knew about this, he went berserk. Intercultural clash was evident in scene where Ian asks Toula’s father if he can court her. Then, Toula’s father again began judging by his appearance, his hair in particular, which is not very Greek. The conversation never had an end and they parted ways.

    Rituals are very important in intercultural communications. Participating in another cultures ritual means that the cultural barrier has been lifted. In the movie, Ian was required to undergo baptism in a Greek Orthodox Church. It was a very strict rule that before Toula and Ian’s marriage, Ian should be baptized. This ritual is not a ritual of acceptance but a ritual of conversion. In the movie, after Ian was baptized, he said that he was already Greek. This is a proof that to be able to have good intercultural communication, one should be converted.

    Another ritual shown in the movie is where Ian’s parents were asked to drink several shots of vodka. This is a welcoming ritual usually done in gatherings. Ian’s parents are not drinkers, though they still complied and they were also accepted as part of the family.

    Wedding rituals is also a form of intercultural communication. In a ceremonial wedding, culture and religion is only separated by a fine line. In terms of religion, rituals are still prominent. In the movie, it was shown that the three generations in Toula’s family shared their experiences. Toula’s grandmother showed her pictures to Toula’s mom and Toula. This ritual is eminent in most culture around the world.

    Interracial marriages are also form of intercultural communication. In My Big fat Greek Wedding, the marriage of Toula and Ian, brought two different families together. In most primitive tribes, intermarriages were signs of cooperation between two tribesmen.

    The movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” has a lot of components that shows the importance of intercultural communication. It is not impossible for two different cultures to be united. Knowledge and understanding of each others’ culture is necessary to promote peaceful and harmonious living.


    Illich, I.(1968). Cuernavaca Speech. Retrieved 8/6/2008 from

    Null, E.T.(1976). Beyond Culture. New York:Doubleday

    Philipsen, G.(1992). Speaking Culturally. Albany: State University ofNew York Press


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