Theories of Communication as Seen in My Big Fat Greek WeddingAs human beings we use communication in many ways. This is why theories are developed so that we can categorize patterns of communication to better understand ourselves and others.
Theories categorize the differences in communication between women and men, help to better understand the conflicts that arise between children and their parents, and help to develop a better understanding of communication in general. Patterns of communication such as these are exemplified in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.One misconception about the nature of communication is the assumption of finality. This theory states that when a statement is made there is a "that settles it" attitude for one of the parties in the communication process. This party believes that by making a particular statement the argument or topic of discussion has been settled, there is finality. This is displayed in My Big Fat Greek Wedding many times especially from Toula's father.
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He believes that once he has made a decision for the family "that settles it", there is no two ways about it, there is finality. For example Toula's father believes that Toula should marry a "nice Greek boy", by making this decision for her he believes that it is final, Toula will marry into a Greek family. When Toula ends up falling in love with a man that has no Greek background whatsoever her father can not understand how something like this could happen.
For the father there was a false sense of finality when for Toula she felt it o.k. to make her own decision and let her heart guide her to whomever whether that be a "nice Greek boy" or not.
This assumption of finality causes conflict, Toula and her father butt heads hard over her choice to marry outside of her own culture, in the real world this particular misconception is common among parents and their children especially. Parents assume that their word is final when children often view it as an opinion not as a final decision. Another form of a misconception in communication that is displayed in the movie is the assumption of communicator independence. This Theory is the "it wasn't my fault" idea. One person tries to dump the blame on anyone except for themselves; in My Big Fat Greek Wedding Toula's father is constantly placing the blame on Toula and her decisions for his unhappiness when in all reality it is him who has put so much emphasis on the idea of her marrying into a Greek family that it has ended up pushing her away from the idea. Toula has no interest in marrying a Greek no matter the persistence of her father, and although her father is unhappy with her decision to marry a non-Greek man he refuses to take partial blame for his own unhappiness. This assumption of communicator independence that Toula's father exemplifies ties into John Stewarts foundations of communication.
Stewart believes that humans live in worlds of meaning, and communication is the process of collaboratively making these meanings. No one person can control a communication event, and no single person causes or can be blamed for a communication outcome. Therefore Toula can not be fully blamed for her father’s unhappiness nor can Toula's father take full blame. Stewart also believes that all communication involves choices, some of which we actively consider and others that follow cultural norms seen as automatic.
The choices that communicators make reveal their ethical standards and commitments. Toula reveals her ethical standards and commitments by choosing to marry a man that is outside of her culture even though it is against her upbringing. Not that her decision is right or wrong it just differs from the choice that her father would make. John Stewart's theories are further shown in the movie through his ideas of culture. Stewart believes that culture and communication are intertwined; ethnicity, gender, age, class, and other cultural features affect communication and are affected by it. This is a huge theme in My Big Fat Greek Wedding; throughout the entirety of the film culture is emphasized, for this particular movie it is Greek culture that is being emphasized. Everything that happens in the film is based on culture, when Toula's fiancé’s parents meet her parents for the first time they are expecting a nice quite dinner because that is the cultural norm for them.
Toula's parents on the other hand believe that it should be a large celebration that is shared among everyone in the family. The best scenes in the movie as far as showing the Greek culture, the way that they celebrate, traditions and communicate is the wedding and reception scenes. Although Toula tries there is no way to escape the influences of culture and according to Stewart nor should there be.Brent Ruben has a separate theory.