‘Europe’ within and without : Narratives of American Cultural Belonging in and through My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

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March 2004, Volume2(Issue1) Page39To59

This article examines My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), a Hollywood romantic comedy in which Greek-Americanness features for the first time. Three tropes are debated that are linked to American social and national self-narration: the first is concerned with the assertion of Greek difference within American identity. The second examines the WASP cultural norm which is simultaneously valorized and contested. The third trope, which comprises a strategy of idealization of American identity, purifies American self-narration of its contestable aspects and represses cultural insecurities. The article draws mainly on American responses to the film, in order to understand how cinematic narratives are debated by the audience. It will be argued that the film reproduces a dilemma central to American cultural self-narration. This dilemma is concerned with American self-recognition as ‘pure’, European, ethnic and multiform, all at the same time.

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doi: 10.1177/1477570004041285