restricted access Norms, Vulnerabilities, Paradoxes: Greeks and MTV


The controversy surrounding Growing Up Greek (2014), a reality show produced by the American cable and satellite television channel MTV, raises issues of boundaries, power, normativity, and vulnerability in the making of ethnicity. The show's portrayal of Greek America raises the issues at stake when an ethnic group engages in a social struggle to safeguard its norms. The collective mobilization, ultimately effective, to cancel the show and remove it from the airwaves, as well as the advocacy that arose in defense of the show, is indicative of a larger power struggle to constitute the public representation of Greek America. Growing Up Greek, its critics, and its supporters respectively constructed conflicting boundaries of ethnicity, and the controversy manifested in a series of ideological paradoxes and clashes. While protesting the MTV show as symbolic violence, Greek America itself exercises its own violence on its internal and external Others via the narrative of model ethnicity, revealing through this irony a pressing need to reconfigure Greek America's dominant identity narrative.