During the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, there was a lot of positive and negative communication that influenced the main character’s life decisions. The story is about a young woman, named Toula, that is of Greek decent who is fearful of being stuck in the life she is now living. She is a frumpy girl that works in her family’s restaurant because she has not been able to find a Greek man to marry, and because of this, her family claims that she is old and has failed in life. She is allowed to attend college, which in turn, gives her new confidence and she is able to fall in love with a non-Greek man that is named, Ian.
During the movie she struggles to get her family to accept him as the man she loves, and she also finally comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity. At the end of the movie, Ian is accepted into the family, he becomes a baptized Greek, agrees to marry in the Greek Orthodox Church and participate in the Greek culture. Despite the happy ending of the movie, Toula struggled to follow the rules and values of her culture, practiced nonverbal communication with Ian, and received empathy from her mother while Ian had to deal with a language barrier of English and Greek.
Toula has a hard time accepting the culture of her family. From the movie, it seems as though the Greek culture is a high context culture. High context cultures have a strong sense of tradition and history, and they do not change much over time. In the beginning of the movie, Toula states that her family expects her to “marry a Greek boy, make Greek babies, and feed everyone in the family till the day she dies. ” Since she has not been married she is stuck working in the family restaurant until she does.
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She breaks tradition when she starts dating and then marries, Ian, because he is not a “Greek boy, and not from a Greek family. She also does the unthinkable since she marryed Ian and changes the history and tradition of the culture, as high context cultures do not change over time.
It is also a tradition for the Greeks to have big families; Toula explains to Ian that she has twenty-seven first cousins and Ian seems to be very interested in what she is telling him because he only has two cousins. Ian’s family is American and they are the opposite of Toula’s family, they are part of the low context culture, like many other American families.
One of the biggest differences is that Toula’s family is loud, big and always together and Ian’s family is small, quite, and only see each other on special occasions. Toula and Ian practiced different forms of nonverbal communication during the movie. Nonverbal communication means messages expressed by nonlinguistic means. Ian and Toula have both used face and eyes as a form of nonverbal communication. When Toula was still working as a waitress in her family restaurant, the dancing Zorba’s, she was caught staring at Ian by Ian and his friend.
Her staring suggests that she was very interested in Ian and thought that he was handsome but Ian’s friend assumed that she was crazy because of how she was staring at Ian. Toula also caught Ian staring at her in the window of the travel agency that her aunt owns. Ian’s staring at Toula suggested that he was interested in her and thought that she was pretty. Ian used substituting, a form of nonverbal communication, to say hi to Toula in the window of the travel agency by waving and smiling at her. There were no words spoken to each other during this scene.
Toula used body orientation to hide from Ian in her family’s restaurant behind the counter as he was leaving. She did this because she may have been embarrassed for getting caught staring at him and she may have also been shy. The same thing also happened in the travel agency when Toula hid behind the water dispenser when Ian turned his back to her to talk with his friend. When he turned back around he could not find her and he walked off. Before Ian ran into the older lady on the street in front of the travel agency, he was using the gesture of possibly a duck, to get Toula’s attention and to make her laugh.
This gesture made her laugh and smile and it was able to help her loosen up and feel a little more comfortable. Ian had to deal with the language barrier a few times in the movie, but there were two scenes that were quite comical. Ian asked Nick, how do you say “thank you” in Greek and he also asked Angelo, Toula’s cousin, how to say “everyone let’s go in the house,” and both times he was told something entirely different. This is similar to the “English-speaking representative of a U. S. soft drink manufacturer naively drew laughs from Mexican customers when she offered free samples of Fresca soda pop.
In Mexican slang, the word fresca means ‘lesbian’(Adler). ” In both of these cases, Ian and the representative thought they were saying one thing but it meant something else in the other language. Empathy was shown in the movie when Toula was turned down by her father for wanting to go to college for computer classes. When this happened her mother, Maria, showed empathy. Empathy means being able to experience the world form the other person’s point of view. Maria explained to Toula that Toula was just like her when she was her age.
Maria stated that she knew how she felt and she would talk to Toula’s father about the computer classes. Maria showed the emotional dimension that helped her to get closer to Toula’s feelings. She also showed genuine concern for the welfare her daughter Toula. I can relate to people being interested in my culture just as Ian was very interested in Toula’s culture because it is different, but unlike Toula, I enjoy my culture and I embrace it. I have found that having a different culture, because most of my family is not from America, as a good thing.
Even though it makes you a little different, it also makes you unique and it adds to your identity as a person. If I were in the situations that Toula was in, I would have done some things different. If I were her, I would have told my parents before anything got serious, because it was shown in the movie that lies only lead to more problems. Telling them early that she found someone non-Greek would have also cause problems but because they wanted her to get married so bad, I think they would have became welcoming sooner.
It is important to be proud of your culture and not ashamed because your culture and the people that raise you make you who you are. Also, many facial expressions can be perceived as in ways that you would not want or expect, like Toula getting caught staring at Ian and his friend, thinking that she was a little crazy. So sometimes when communicating nonverbally, it may be best to use words to communicate your actual feelings. ?
- Page(s): 187, Looking Out, Looking In, 13th Edition by Ronald B. Adler, Cengage Learning
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