Big Fat Gypsy Cringe!
I, like many other voyeurs, enjoyed watching My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on channel 4 last night. I’m glad this is a proper series now rather than a one off like last time – I’m particularly excited about next weeks episode where it looks like we see their caravans get smashed up and their elderly being dragged off like sheep to the slaughter. Burn them! Burn them!
Sorry, I got a bit carried away there. It’s a tough call with the gypsies. On one hand, they have ridiculously squeaky clean morals, and seem to be trying to create some perfect microcosm of a society where everyone knows their jobs and knows what to do and it all works wonderfully. On the other hand you have to anti-social behaviour, the violence, the poor dress sense, the contant pestering to sell heather and do driveways……..
Take last nights episode for example. They seemed like lovely people a lot of the time. The blonde one (chanessa, was it?) actually seemed to sound quite well to do. And there was Josie, polishing and dusting like there’s no tomorrow, having left school at 11. aww. But then there were moments where I just thought “hmm, I don’t know about this.” Like when the kids were on their way to their first holy communion (big date in the gypsy calender,) they were bombing along the road in this 4×4 style limousine, with glasses of fake champagne and the loudest, most awful music blaring from the speakers. They were unsupervised, all of them standing up and leaning out the window. And then they turn up at this chapel – “Dere’s Da Chapel! Jesus Christ!” exclaims John-Boy – and the rest of their school is there having their first holy communion too, and all those little girls look like little virgin marys, and then in walks this poor traveller girl, drowned in a sea of pink weighing twice her own body weight. I have to remind myself that everyone has their own idea of taste, but to me it looked ridiculous. She was having to m0ve like the zombies in the thriller video because she was so weighed down by her dress.
Then there was the grabbing. Grabbing is apparently where a young lad literally grabs a girl, and performs an act somewhere in between an assault and a rape, literally forcing himself upon her, trying to get a kiss. It looked horrific, and highly traumatising for the poor girl. Our well to do chanessa from earlier was subject to a grab from a boy in a pink vest, and you could tell she was visibly shaken by it. Is this their high moral code at work? Where girls are whittled down to being mere agents and playthings of the opposite sex, where it’s fine to leave them alone in the dark with a boy, hearing them screaming?
I just felt that (personal taste aside,) the traveller way of life seemed to be flying in direct contradiction with the supposed high traveller morals. By their morals, you’d expect them to all be like the Armish, but they’re the polar opposite. They preach a lot about no sex before marriage, that you marry for life (in other words, about sexual decency,) and then you’ve got them all dressed like they’re working the streets. Every single one of those girls was dancing and posing like a porn star, thrusting various bits out left, right and centre for the camera. Josie the bride had a 2 ft wide hole in the front of her dress, displaying her legs and probably her nether-regions too if you were at the right angle. And on her alcohol free hen night, her, her friends (and her mother!) were walking around lanzarote dressed in some bras and knickers with sequins and tassels attached for a bit of je ne sais quoi, shouting “it’s my ‘en night! Oi it’s my ‘en night!”
I suppose you could say it’s not the fact that they dressed that awfully and acted so violently that bothered me (actually no, the violence did bother me,) but it’s more the fact that they dressed and acted that way and then purported to have this high morality. If they said “yeah um, we’re slappers, and all our boyfriends have asbos,” then i’d have had no problem with it. I suppose as well it’s difficult to look at because it’s a culture so close and yet so far from our own. Their religion is the same, their language is (largely,) the same, they look like us, and yet they’re so radically different. I guess the snobby brit in me finds that hard to process. Also the fact that they’re more than likely homophobic, that doesn’t make it easy.
Mind you, I’m saying all of this, but I do actually have some gypsy in me! My Dad’s family from way back when were romany gypsies. I take solace in the fact that when they were gypsies it was all still adorable little painted caravans and crystal ball gazing, makes it all a bit more exciting and bearable that way. Oh well, regardless of your opinions – still bloody good telly!