My Big Fat Greek Wedding - Individualistic vs Collectivistic Culture

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding - Individualistic vs Collectivistic Culture

By | December 2008
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In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I analyzed the scene where Toula’s family is having a party, and Ian Miller’s parents are going to come and meet the family for the first time. This is an extreme clash of individualistic vs. collectivistic culture. Ian’s parents seemed to be a traditional white, American couple with no sense of foreign food, customs, or culture of any kind. When the parents originally start walking up to the house, and there have to be at least 30 people outside partying, it is an instant sense of confusion and intimidation that they seem to feel. Ian’s parents hand Toula’s parents a Bundt cake and Toula’s parents had never even seen one before. They were so confused about it, that later in the scene they brought it out with some flowers in the middle of it, and you here somebody in the background say, “you fixed it!” When Gus comes through with a plate of meat, and Ian’s parents turn it down, he looks seriously hurt, as if turning down food is something you just don’t do in Greek culture. That is definitely a clash of culture, because while Ian’s parents meant it innocently, Gus took it offensively. You can tell that abundance of people, the loud music, the endless food and drink, and the jests of the guests are too much for Ian’s parents, and they are overwhelmed by the experience because it is something they had never been through before.

Ian’s parents’ thoughts and feelings were obviously affected by their cultural makeup, and they felt very out of place in this situation. If I bring that thought back to my own cultural makeup, I can see where Ian’s parents are coming from. I remember when I did some community service work at a homeless shelter in Compton about three years ago. I felt so out of place, I felt uncomfortable, and I felt like I wanted to leave as soon as possible because I felt genuinely unsafe. Why? Because my cultural makeup has told me Compton is an unsafe place to me. Because there are movies about Compton, there...
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