How My Big Fat Greek Wedding Essay

How My Big Fat Greek Wedding Essay.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding is an ethnographic style film that can be viewed in relationship to the anthropological concepts of endogamy and family acceptance of marriage to non-Greek partners. Anthropological views of this film will be addressed in this paper to assess familial relationships in the Greek culture. The film My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a great example of truths and misconceptions of the Greek culture.

Summary of My Big Fat Greek Wedding

The film titled My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a Hollywood-style anthropological film.

This romantic comedy tells the story of a Greek family who emigrated from Greece to North America and who have three children, one being a daughter who is a bit plain and has never married. The daughter’s name is Toula Portokalos and she is in her thirties. Toula is a socially awkward lady who works long hours in her parents’ restaurant as a waitress. She starts to see her life slipping by and isn’t happy with the direction it is taking.

Toula has a large, extended Greek family. Her extended family consists of aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, and one eccentric grandmother. She loves her family tremendously, but at times they can be overbearing and overly opinionated. They view the world through the Greek culture and they have many Greek customs that they practice. One day Toula meets a man named Ian Miller who comes to eat in her family restaurant. Ian Miller is a professor at a college in town. Toula reacts in a very shy manner, but is attracted to him. They are not officially introduced to one another and he leaves after his meal.

Toula decides to go to college and take a computer course, with the idea that she wants to automate the billing system at the restaurant. She takes some classes at the college and over time begins to change her appearance. She starts wearing make-up, fixes her hair, she changes from eyeglasses to contacts, she dresses nicer, and starts to become more outgoing. She eventually runs into Ian again, when she starts working for her aunt’s travel business. Toula and Ian begin dating and learning about each other. They have a wonderful time together and are very happy. Toula doesn’t tell her father because Ian isn’t Greek and Toula knows that her father wouldn’t approve. Her father and mother eventually find out, and her father is very upset about Ian not being Greek. He starts having Greek men over for dinner to try to set-up Toula with them. Toula isn’t pleased about it and continues to date Ian. Eventually, Ian asks Toula to marry her and she says yes.

Her father is very upset about this because he doesn’t want Toula to marry someone who isn’t Greek. In the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding Toula’s father says, “Nice Greek girls should marry Greek boys, have Greek babies, and feed everyone until the day they die (Vardalos, 2002).” Her father eventually realizes that Toula is happy and in love with Ian, through the help of Toula’s mother. Toula, Ian, and Toula’s family plan for a big Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. In order for Ian to be married in a Greek Orthodox Church, he must become baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church. He is baptized in the church and they prepare for the big wedding.

Toula’s father and mother invite all of their family members and Ian’s family members to the wedding. They have a big wedding ceremony complete with all of the Greek style decorations and wedding attire. They have a traditional wedding dinner afterwards to celebrate Toula and Ian’s wedding. Everyone is happy and the family begins to accept Ian into their family. They even say that Ian looks Greek now. Toula and Ian have a daughter and a short while later the movie ends with them walking her to Greek school.

Anthropological Analysis of My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a well-done Hollywood-style anthropological film, in my opinion. The film is quite funny and charmingly romantic. My favorite aspect of the movie is the closeness of the large Greek family and that everyone in the family is always willing to help each other out. Their love for one another is transparent and they enjoy their daily interactions. I have always been extremely interested in the Greek culture and have admired the closeness of the families and their fascinating culture. My Big Fat Greek Wedding helped me gain more insight into why it is so important for the Greeks to pass on their meaningful traditions, so as to not lose their Greek customs. This film relates to the anthropological topic of endogamy and the family acceptance of non-Greek partners. According to the textbook Seeing Anthropology – Cultural Anthropology Through Film – Fourth Edition endogamy is defined as, “The rule that one must marry within one’s own group (Heider, 2007:246).” It is extremely important to the people of many cultures that they pass on their customs, values, and beliefs. If the people in cultures don’t pass on their beliefs, then their culture will eventually die out.

The importance of these values is portrayed in this film through their family interactions. The fact that Toula has fallen in love with a non-Greek man is very upsetting to her father. He is concerned that they won’t pass on the family traditions of the Greek culture. The cultural system portrayed in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding has many accuracies and one such accuracy would be that of family togetherness. The cultural system of family togetherness is in many ways accurately portrayed in the film. The article When “Second Generation” Narratives and Hollywood Meet: Making Ethnicity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding states that, “The household in Greece is enmeshed in wide networks of kin and social relations. This is evident in informal Sunday meals or on religious holidays and in formal household rituals such as baptisms, engagements, and weddings, where members of the extended family, friends, and acquaintances are invited to join in a commensal gathering ‘to create bonds between different groups, often overriding major social and economic distinctions’ (Gefou-Madianou 17) (Anagnostou, 2012:150-151).”

These types of family get-togethers are portrayed in scenes from the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, such as the family’s Easter celebration, the Baptism of Toula’s fiancé, and Toula and Ian’s wedding. The cultural system that is portrayed in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding also has many inaccuracies. According to the article titled When “Second Generation” Narratives and Hollywood Meet: Making Ethnicity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding an inaccuracy that is portrayed by the film is, “Its portrayal of immigrants as primitives in our midst reanimates a stock of images common to Hollywood and ethnographic cinema in general: the infantilization, debasement, and exoticization of the other, cast as an aboriginal who embodies a way of life that is bygone in the spectator’s culture. In this narration, the immigrant is seen as parochial and frozen in time, belonging to an earlier temporal reality (Anagnostou, 2012:140).”

There are numerous scenes throughout the film that portray the Greek people as primitive, such as Toula’s eccentric grandmother. Her grandmother is seen throughout the movie running outside and trying to escape from the Turkish enemy. She is also seen in the movie giving derogatory gestures to people because she thinks they are the Turkish enemies of the Greeks. Another accuracy portrayed in My Big Fat Greek Wedding would be that of Greek families encouraging their daughters to marry within the Greek culture. According to the article titled Adjusting Marriage Tradition: Greeks to Greek-Americans, “Marriage is valued by Greek-Americans, and ethnic endogamy (marriage within the group) is the stated ideal . . . ‘Fewer problems’, understates the immense problem that some intermarried Greek-Americans face concerning parental acceptance of non-Greek spouses (Schultz, 1981:207).”

A family’s acceptance of their daughter’s partner is critical for their support of their daughter. In the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula’s parents, especially her father, keep encouraging her to get married to a Greek man because a good daughter would marry a Greek man. In the thesis titled Greek-American Couples – Examining Acculturation, Egalitarianism and Intimacy, “The family, along with the Greek Orthodox Church, is critical to the maintenance of Greek ethnic identity from one generation to the next. Greek-Americans greatly value the institution of family (Karapanagiotis, 2008:33).” In the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula’s family is very important to her and she wants their approval, so she can marry Ian and have her family’s support. An inaccuracy portrayed in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, according to the article titled When “Second Generation” Narratives and Hollywood Meet: Making Ethnicity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding is, “The camera directs a reductive gaze at the immigrant figure. Whether it follows the grandmother, frames the male suitors, or zooms in on the father, it casts the immigrant as one who inhabits a fundamental otherness, in the manner of an imperial and colonial discourse (Anagnostou, 2012:148).”

When Toula’s father tries to set her up with Greek men, so she won’t want to marry Ian, the film portrays the Greek men as strangely odd and in a negative stereotype. The Greek men are portrayed in an exclusionary manner, so as to show their otherness, as being “different” from Americans. Popular film presentations, such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, can be compared to anthropological ethnographic films in many ways. According to the textbook Seeing Anthropology – Cultural Anthropology Through Film – Fourth Edition, “Ethnographic films study particular cultures and record their way of life, so it’s not lost in time (Heider, 2007:434).”

Ethnographic films portray the daily lives of people and how they interact with other people in their community. Ethnographic films, such as The Nuer, Dead Birds, and Box of Treasures all discuss the importance of culture. The film titled The Nuer especially focuses on kinship. Many popular film presentations attempt to portray their characters in their culture, but aren’t successful with it. They aren’t successful because they add a lot of drama and excitement to their films and lose track of the cultural aspect of the characters in the film. I think the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding was done well for a Hollywood-style film. They did portray some aspects of the Greek culture incorrectly, but they also portrayed many aspects correctly.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding is based of a true story, in which the co-star and writer is Nia Vardalos. Because a Greek lady who experienced the plot in the story writes it and co-stars in it, there are many truths to the film. Hollywood has a tendency to want to dramatize and add more interesting plots to captivate their audience, so they have included some inaccuracies and stereotypes in the film. In the text When “Second Generation” Narratives and Hollywood Meet: Making Ethnicity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding it is stated that, “Popular American film often oversimplifies the experiences of American ethnics of European heritage. Although Polish Americans, German Americans, or Greek Americans may appear as ethnic characters, their claim to difference is rarely the primary focus. Mainstream cinema deploys various European American identities as tropes to address issues of national belonging, to assert dominant ideals, to allegorize the American Dream, or to discipline ethnicity. It largely refrains from delving into the intricacies of their hyphenated lives (Anagnostou, 2012:139).”

The Greek characters in this film were often portrayed as eccentric and as a different kind of people, unfortunately. Hopefully, in time the movie industry will begin to try to portray people of different cultures more accurately and not as the “other people”. I, personally, found the film to be a heartwarming, romantic comedy and enjoyed it. My eyes have been opened to the stark incorrect differences and stereotypes that were portrayed in the film because of my exposure to anthropology in my education. I have learned a wealth of information about how to view and judge ethnographic films and virtually all movies. I now have a better understanding of films and know how to evaluate them and assess them in an anthropological manner. I will leave the readers of this analysis with a final quote to ponder from the film.

In My Big Fat Greek Wedding Toula’s father gives a speech at Toula and Ian’s wedding dinner and he states the following, “The name Portokalos means oranges in the Greek language and the name Miller means apples in the Greek language. We are apples and oranges. We are all different, but in the end we are all fruit (Vardalos, 2002).” Toula’s father eloquently makes the comparison of the Greeks and non-Greeks as different, but yet they are the same. It is important to remember where you come from in life and what makes you different and who you are, such as being Greek or non-Greek. It is also important to remember that we all share commonalities in life. We should all celebrate our heritage and customs and never forget them, and we all should be willing to learn new things in life, as well.


Anagnostou, Yiorgos
2012When “Second Generation” Narratives and Hollywood Meet: Making Ethnicity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S., 37(4): 139-163.

Heider, Karl
2007Seeing Anthropology – Cultural Anthropology Through Film – Fourth Edition: 237, 266-267.

Karapanagiotis, Fay Tsiartsionis
2008Greek American Couples Examining Acculturation, Egalitarianism and Intimacy. Ph.D. Dissertation, Doctor of Philosophy, Drexel University.

Schultz, Sandra L.
1981Adjusting Marriage Tradition: Greeks to Greek-Americans. Journal of Comparative Family Studies 12(2): 205-218.

Vardalos, Nia.
2002My Big Fat Greek Wedding. DVD. United States: Warner Home Video.

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How My Big Fat Greek Wedding Essay

The Myth of Hades: Relevance Today Essay

The Myth of Hades: Relevance Today Essay.

Today Greek mythology tells the story of a dark underworld called Hades, named after its formidable ruler, Hades, the god of death and the dead (Atsma, 2008). According to the surrounding mythology, souls entering Hades had to cross each of five subterranean rivers which flowed through the underworld before facing judgment and being sent to their final resting place. Although the myth of Hades is centuries old, various cultures continue to believe in its premises: the existence of an underworld ruled by an underworld lord.

Belief in an UnderworldMany religions today have their own version of Hades, and according to a 2004 Gallup Poll, 70% of Americans believe in hell (Religion Facts, 2004). The New Testament of the Bible speaks about hell being a place for punishment after the last judgment. Many versions of the Christian religion exist today, and all of them believe in an underworld like Hades as the final resting place for souls to suffer and pay consequences if they have done wrong while living.

Islam is another Abrahamic religion that is practiced today with core beliefs that, if not followed, will place one in its version of the underworld. In the Qur’an, the Islamic version of the Bible, hell is nothing but fire. According to Islam, any disbelief in the Qur’an will cause an afterlife spent in hell; this includes all enemies of Allah. This is a way to keep cultivating piety and humility in all Muslims (Irving, 2002).

These two modern versions of the underworld have many similarities with the Greek version, Hades. These religions speak of fire and internal imprisonment as well as seeing this as a place of punishment, which is similar to the Hades myth. Some individuals still suggest that Hades is only a myth; simply people from the past making up a place of fear in order keep future citizens from creating chaos. This is a fairly respectable position, considering the lack of physical evidence of Hades or any other underworld. However, the myth of Hades lives on through a religiously dictated belief in an underworld. This belief is generally accepted to be a tool used to control those on earth and to enforce a moral code. Muslims believe the underworld helps keep their culture on the right path by instilling fear of wrongdoing.

This accountability causes Muslims to face a fiery underworld similar to Hades should their actions waiver, and a similar fate awaits Christian wrongdoersBelief in Underworld LordsHades, the lord of the Greek underworld, persists in the same role in other religions and cultures throughout history. As the ruler or guardian, the lord will control the underworld and its residents. Christians believe in Satan or the Devil, Buddhists in Naraka, Chinese in Diyu, Japanese in Yomi, Juuou, and the Greco-Romans in Hades. Not every religion has a single lord, in some cases multiple kings or lords will rule. In other cases, a guardian may control entry into the underworld, such as the case with Kerberos, the three-headed dog that guards the gates to Hades.

The description and belief in these rulers and their domains are as frightful and powerful today as they were many centuries ago. People raised with the desire for a comfortable afterlife, to meet their creator, or to achieve enlightenment, also hold a fear of possibly spending an eternity in the dark alternative. The fear of the afterlife is so prevalent that it affects normal conversation in the form of metaphors used in everyday conversation. Stressful situations that seem miserable, unavoidable, unending, or fraught with chaos are in a sense, “like hell.” It is also common to hear people curse another to meet their maker or exclaim, “To hell with you!” Often, one can pinpoint people in one’s lives that link to the underworld lords through simple relationships such as a nasty teacher, vicious neighbor, or serial killer in the national news. These relationships can lead one to believe that person may be the devil.

In mythology, the role of the lord of the underworld does not merely consist of his reign, but his image as a tempter. One of the most obvious forms of temptation is the story of Adam and Eve from the Old Testament. In the Garden of Eden, Eve is tempted with the forbidden fruit, but has been told by God to leave the fruit alone. However, when Eve succumbed to her temptations, her innocence was lost. This metaphor is carried today with normal wants and desires. It is human to want what one cannot have; this “sin” or temptation is linked back to the ruler of the underworld.

Five Rivers of the UnderworldHades is home to five rivers: Cocytus, the river of lamentation; Acheron, the river of woe; Lethe, the river of forgetfulness; Phlegethon, the river of fire; and Styx, the river of hate (Dawson, 1997). The traits represented by the five rivers, lamentation, woe, forgetfulness, and hate are abhorrent qualities that are associated with sinful behavior in contemporary society and religion. The Cocytus and Acheron rivers invoke visions of the grief and sorrow a sinner will suffer as they spend an eternity in Hades. The five rivers represent an emotional deterrent for sinful behavior.

Of these five rivers, the river Styx is the most well known to people today. The Greek gods used the river Styx to take binding oaths, and if a oath taken on the river Styx was broken; the party who failed to keep his word would drink of the river and lose his voice for 9 years (Dawson, 1997). In modern society some people believe that dishonesty is a sin punishable by eternal damnation; the stories of the river Styx symbolize the importance our society places on truthfulness.

The Hades myths still resonant in today’s society universally demonstrate similar characteristics. The underworld concept includes fire, unpleasantness, and hell; each representing a theme of eternal imprisonment. The belief of the Hades myth inspires obedience in the mortal life as well. When the temptations of the rulers of the underworld interfere with one’s life, the person must make a cognitive choice to avoid or succumb to the temptations. Finally, in terms of the mythical properties of Hades, the underworld includes a purposeful journey, where the embodiment of one’s life leads to judgment followed by eternal rest. One such journey is the crossing of the river Styx, which is paralleled by analogies of trust and honesty. Whether the myth of Hades is true or not, it provides a strong basis for the enforcement of positive moral behavior; something from which all people could benefit.


Atsma, Aaron (2008). Haides. Retrieved January 22, 2008 from, Nikki (2008). Greek and roman mythology: mythical places: underworld. RetrievedJanuary 22, 2008 from, M. (1997).
Styx (River). Retrieved January 24, 2008 from, T. B. (2002, December 16, 2007). Koran: English Translation . Retrieved January 20,2008, from, (n.d.). Japanese Architectural and Art History Search Engine. Retrieved on January 23,2008, from, D. A. (1990). The World of Myth. New York: Oxford University Press.

Parada, Carlos. Underworld & afterlife. Retrieved January 22, 2008 from the Greek MythologyLink website: Facts (2004). Christian Beliefs on Hell. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from http://www.

The Myth of Hades: Relevance Today Essay

“King Midas” and “Daedalus and Icarus” Comparison Essay Essay

“King Midas” and “Daedalus and Icarus” Comparison Essay Essay.

King Midas and Daedalus and Icarus Comparison EssayKing Midas and Daedalus and Icarus are two Greek myths. In King Midas the king receives a wish from Dionysus after doing him a favour. Midas chooses that everything he touches turns to gold. Daedalus and Icarus focuses on the main characters escape from King Minos captivity. Daedalus invents wings to escape, but his son does not follow his advice and flies too high. This causes the sun to melt the wax holding his wings together and Icarus plummets towards his death.

Both myths show some of the morals and philosophies of the Ancient Greeks. King Midas and Daedalus and Icurus convey Greek morals, such as hubris and the golden mean through their main characters.

Hubris in Ancient Greece meant over-confidence or extreme arrogance over ones ability. In King Midas, the main character, Midas, unknowingly makes a foolish decision, by wishing that everything he touches turns to gold. When his gift becomes a liability because his food is also turning into gold, he asks for the forgiveness and pity of the Gods.

Dionysus responds to this plea and tells him how to get rid of his golden touch. This shows that the Ancient Greeks only considered an act to be hubris, when the person in question was very arrogant and cocky about his ability. King Midas was foolish, but he realized that he had made a mistake. He asked for forgiveness and the Gods took pity on him. This shows that the Ancient Greeks valued humility and did not like overconfidence in the form of hubris.

On the other hand the Daedalus and Icarus myth demonstrates what happens when hubris takes over, through the character of Icarus. When Icarus gets used to his wings, he starts to fly higher and higher, towards the realm of the Gods. This results in his nemesis, in the form of death. There is a sharp contrast between the two myths concerning hubris. King Midas lived, whereas Icarus dies. The King Midas and Daedalus and Icarus myths convey through their characters, Midas and Icarus, how to deal with extraordinary skills. They stress the fact that hubris should not dictateThe King Midas and Daedalus and Icarus myths also both touch the subject of the golden mean. The Ancient Greeks considered balance essential. The golden mean in the King Midas myth is portrayed through the character of Midas.

He was already fairly wealthy, being a king, but he wanted more wealth and wished everything he touched turned to gold. Eventually King Midas realizes it is a curse to have too much of anything and asks forgiveness from the Gods. In contrast in the Daedalus and Icarus the golden mean is portrayed via Icarus. Instead of stopping in the middle and staying there he keeps going and only realizes his mistake too late. Due to the fact that he flew too high, the wax melted and he crashed to his death. This was after he was warned by his father, Daedalus not to fly too high or too low. The golden mean is an important theme in both myths and they both show how it is never good to fly too high or to want to own everything.

In conclusion, both myths use the moral lessons of hubris and the golden mean. In the King Midas myth the ending is more humorous whereas in the Daedalus and Icarus myth the ending is tragic. This shows how the Ancient Greeks believed that if you asked for forgiveness and realized your mistake, the Gods would take pity on you. If you, however, strayed from the golden mean or got into a hubris-like mind state, it could turn out ugly. Overall the King Midas and Daedalus and Icarus myths provide two examples of what the Greeks believed would happen to you if you did not follow their principles of staying with the golden mean and not being hubris.

de Blois, Lukas, and Robartus van der Spek. An Introduction to the Ancient World. 7th ed. New York: Routledge, 2007.

“King Midas” and “Daedalus and Icarus” Comparison Essay Essay