In general, Hollywood movies always contain a seamfree transition from pain to happiness and from injustice to a fair resolution. There’s trouble in paradise but it somehow feels contained. A girl cries coming out of the hairdressing salon or in the nail salon, while the nail lady happily comforts her whispering philosophically sounding words.
Greek movies like it vulgar. Pain gets out of control, the princess looks a mess and screams and shouts like a truck driver. Other themes include trying to assist illegal immigrants through the borders. Things can get ugly and there may be no true resolution whatsoever. The beautiful blonde heroine may end up in a lunatic assylum or a victim of suicide. The Greek audience likes realistic movies without a happy ending more than the American audience. And that goes beyond movies & soap operas.
An older lady in a bus in Athens will show no inhibition in expressing her sorrow, anger, or disgust over the government, son-in-law, or reckless driver who almost kills her. She will scream at the top of her lungs in an almost empty bus while holding on tight to the handle bars. Her co-passengers will feel uneasy, contradict her or bond with her and the incident will contribute to another colorful day in the life of the bus driver.
The same old lady in Washington, D.C., will suffer gladly behind her cashmere hat, sitting tight in the appointed seat for the elderly. She will take her time getting off the bus and into her therapist’s office. She will then elegantly discuss the emotional turmoil she’s in. One may consider it civilized and admire it a great deal. A Greek person will probably think she’s bottling it all up and all she needs is a nice old ouzo shot, a good cry and a dance.
A Greek-American finds oneself in the priviledged position of making a conscious choice whether to play it safe or play it Greek.