March Madness: On #MyBigFatGreekWedding2 and New Novel Release Date #MondayBlogs #Booktrope

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People Change. Greeks don’t.

That’s one of the statements flashing across the screen in oh-so-appropriate blue letters across a white background during the My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 trailer which, at the time of this posting, I’ve watched upwards of a half-dozen times. As brief as the proclamation is during the two-minute preview, it contains–like much of the content in the first movie that was an unexpected smash hit back in 2002–a shimmer of truth amid the shiny gloss of Hollywood exaggeration. Of course Greeks as people, like anyone else, change and evolve, but our cultural values and traditions remain a constant; unaltered in time. A distinction is made in the film trailer between “people” and “Greeks” because the culture is larger than life: a living, breathing technicolor mosaic of language, customs, history, and ethnic consciousness that often, in the eyes of both non-Greeks and Greeks alike, puts us on par, for better or worse, with the mythical heroes of our ancient epics. That can be a grand burden to bare, so films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which simultaneously celebrate and poke good-natured fun at our enduring identity, are a joy to watch. Sure, I know some Greek-Americans who didn’t like the first movie, complaining that we don’t go spraying Windex on everything. But those folks, in my opinion, take themselves too seriously. Despite the few flaws of the first film, it was a treat to see our culture depicted on the big screen.

My mother tells stories of Americans flocking to the theaters in the 196o’s to catch acclaimed movie adaptations of ancient Greek dramas like Antigone and Elektra, as well as modern stories such as Zorba the Greek. Having seen DVD versions of these films, I don’t know if they were actually smash hits in their time, but they apparently drew a significant audience interested in Greece and Greek culture. Growing up in the 1980’s and ’90’s, I can’t recall many Hollywood depictions of the Greek experience–whether ancient or modern–aside from Shirley Valentine, and John Stamos’ Jesse Katsopoulos character on the popular TV sitcom Full House. So, when My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out in 2002, I had to see it. It was a great movie–cartoonish at times, but consistently charming and fun.

Then I began to notice the phrase “It’s Chic to Be Greek!” commonly appear in the media. Greek culture in America–beyond the yearly food festivals that occur in most major cities–was all the rage once again. We Greeks have always been a proud people, but at that moment we, for the most part, stood up a little straighter as our time on the silver screen had arrived after long hiatus.

Now, the sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding is scheduled for a March, 2016 release. My novel Wings of Wax, in a stroke of fortuity (wink, wink), will also be released that same month. The book was originally supposed to come out in December, but the publisher is taking more time to plan marketing strategy and build momentum to ensure Wings of Wax receives the best possible launch. I’m excited to have my debut novel hit shelves in the same time frame of Nia Vardalos’ film release. We Greeks stick together. Thank you, faithful readers, for sticking around, too!

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3 thoughts on “March Madness: On #MyBigFatGreekWedding2 and New Novel Release Date #MondayBlogs #Booktrope

  1. The Puget Sound Papers

    Again, my friend, a wonderful post. And it posits a question: How much stereotyping is beneficial and how much hurts. I grew in an environment where most of my friends were Asian-American or Hispanic-American. I remember something way long ago with an Anthony Quinn – I don’t remember the movie now…sorry… – where your words, “…a shimmer of truth amid the shiny gloss of Hollywood exaggeration. Of course Greeks as people, like anyone else, change and evolve, but our cultural values and traditions remain a constant; unaltered in time. A distinction is made in the film trailer between “people” and “Greeks” because the culture is larger than life: a living, breathing technicolor mosaic of language, customs, history, and ethnic consciousness that often, in the eyes of both non-Greeks and Greeks alike, puts us on par, for better or worse, with the mythical heroes of our ancient epics. ” kicked in. I wish, now that I could remember the movie…I’m not sure, but I suspect that it had to do with the ‘real’ cinco de mayo. Not sure…they say that the first thing to go is the memory…?! I laughed my way through the first “…Big Fat Greek Wedding” and I suspect that I’ll do the same with the second. But for those with (legitimate – I’ll give them that) concerns, I wonder if this might not be a pathway where the more that we bring Greek-isms to popular culture, the more we ease our way into have a total of real three dimensions

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  2. The Puget Sound Papers

    Argh…I’m not liking that post at all…The point was that enough exposure makes us part of the mainstream and the stereotypes become less and less useful. The rant about the Mexican American movie was that we don’t see those as much anymore because Mexican Americans can now be something, in the movies, other than mestizo humans who are outlaws, or the doting illegals who raise our rich and absent Americans’ children. Ouch but I can’t stand looking at those typos…:-(

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  3. apollopapafrangou Post author

    Hi Puget.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you for your comments, insightful as always.
    I think that America has long had a certain fascination with Greek culture, partly,
    I suppose, because of the ancient contributions to western civilization, and partly
    because the warmth and vividness of the culture is exoticized by the Anglo-Saxon
    mainstream.

    I agree that more exposure will integrate Greek culture into the mainstream,
    but I like how we have managed to keep so many of traditions despite assimilation.
    One of my friends brought an Italian-America friend to a Greek function and he spoke about
    how impressed he was that Greeks, for the most part, have maintained their Greekness where
    as Italian-Americans, generally, have assimilated more thoroughly into the mass culture.

    In regard to your point about growing up with many friends from other cultures, and witnessing the
    transformation of their big-screen depictions, I had a similar experience growing up in Oakland with
    many African-American friends.

    Like

    Reply

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