An Actors Blog . . .

Monday, 20 February 2012

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

Everything Isn't Always As It Seems

Excuse the presumption that all my readers have seen this programme/documentary. I am aware that there are probably a handful of you that haven't. However, I am pretty sure you have all probably heard something about this programme and I am guessing that all you have heard is not good. I know that that is a bit of an unfair thing to say and think - I'm fully aware. But, you can't help feeling this way. Channel 4 very cleverly show you the correct footage to make things appear 'All bad'. 

After watching this programme we have all made our assumptions on Gypsies I'm sure and let's be honest Channel 4 doesn't really give you much choice in what you think and feel towards them. It has managed to plant seeds in our heads and has definitley pushed it self on to us in a way that is enough to help us create ideas.

It wasn't until recently, when i stumbled across another fellow Bloggers blog that I began to realise maybe what we are watching on a week night isn't exactly how it is. Maybe we are being led to believe something that isn't strictly true or at least not for everyone involved.

I stumbled across this Blog written by a 'Pip' who is 'not your average 17 year old Romany boy' - This is how he describes himself to his followers and after reading his blog this definitely rings true. He has some pretty strong opinions on the programme and when you read on - you really can't blame him. He explains that "Channel 4's programme is nothing but a work of Fiction' and proceeds to prove this point backed up by his own personal experiences. He also goes onto explain that the programme has pretty much ruined his life and his sisters. His sister even has had to put up with taunts and physical violence. When you read this blog post you really do start to see things in a different light. It is very easy to make presumptions and to believe what you see. But, I guess what we are seeing is just highly edited and specifically targeted. Of course channel 4 are going to make sure that they film the most outrageous people - This way they are guaranteed an audience. I think we all need to be aware that despite what we may think, what we are seeing isn't necessarily true and it isn't always fair to tarnish everyone with the same brush.

Below I have copied 'Pip's' Blog post for you all to read. I hope like me it makes you think a little differently. I'm not trying to say something is right or wrong - I'm merely stating that this blog post is great because it shows how misleading TV Documentaries can be and how deceitful this particular one has been.

If you wish to read more of Pip's Blog please visit the following:

"An Open Letter to Channel 4

Dear Channel 4,

I am writing to you with the hope that you will stop ruining my life. While your obsession with my ethnicity is flattering, it has become somewhat apparent to me that you might have gotten the wrong end of the stick. This is sort of awkward for me, because I don't want to be the one to break it to you, but your documentary, 'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings', is unfortunately a work of fiction. There is no need to be embarrassed, it can happen to the best of us, and thus I hope my letter will help you establish the facts, after all I'm sure you are passionate about fighting discrimination against ethnic minorities. Don't be modest now, we know you are...right?

It surprised me to discover that 99% of Britain's Gypsy and Traveller population are Irish. Correct me if I'm wrong, as I am sure you have done lots and lots of research on this topic, but just 10% of the Gypsy andTraveller population are actually Irish Travellers. The majority, like myself, are in fact Romany, yet your 'documentary' seems to ignore our existence. While I have nothing but respect for the Irish Traveller community, you seem to be unaware that we are two distinct ethnic groups and thus there are many differences between our cultures. While Irish Travellers originate from Ireland, we can trace our routes back to India, so it was hardly surprising that I was somewhat confused when you use the word Gypsy in the title of your 'documentary' about Irish Travellers. I was even more confused when your 'documentary' about Irish Travellers seemed to feature an alien culture that even most Irish Traveller's didn't recognise.

You correctly identified that many Gypsy and Traveller children leave school at a young age, however you failed to mention that this is not because we are all born to terrible parents, but because our communities suffer from great social exclusion. State education fails to adapt to anything but mainstream culture, thus we have to contend with a curriculum that is totally irrelevant to our way of life. Moreover, both teachers and students seem ignorant of our cultures, thus we are labelled as troublemakers and bullied for being different. The myths that you have been spreading have not helped matters. Indeed, I was subjected to physical attacks during your last series of your 'documentary' which ultimately led to my expulsion from school (long story), whilst my 12 year old cousin was beat up on her way home from school by a gang of girls who were calling her a prostitute.

As you can see, there are many reasons as to why Gypsy and Traveller children are failing to attend school, but you seem to have forgotten to feature those of us that do stay in education. Take myself, for example, I'm currently at college studying a range of subjects such as, History and Sociology. Moreover, my sister trained to be a hairdresser, my aunty went to university and is now a social worker and some of my cousins completed apprenticeships, thus clearly dropping out of education is not a prerequisite of living in a trailer.

Your 'documentary' has an unhealthy obsession with little girls. While I understand that the outfits worn by some of your younger stars could be considered a little risqué, I see only little girls having fun and dressing up for a special occasion. Your 'documentary' appears to be suggesting that we are inappropriately sexualising our children, yet the only people who are sexualising our children are the viewers who watch them and think they are sexy. In reality, our little girls can mostly be found in velour tracksuits and handmade frilly dresses, so I would suggest you should stop filming little girls dancing if you are finding that this is turning on your viewers.

After watching the last series of your 'documentary' it finally hit me why I was so unlucky in love. I would have been married by now, if only I had known that the key to a women's heart was to sexually assault her using a gypsy courting ritual called 'grabbing'. I asked my brother if he had grabbed his wife, but it turned out he had just asked her out on a date instead. It appears that in reality, no one actually knows what grabbing is, in fact Gypsy and Traveller men actually have a lot of respect for their women after all.

Speaking of love, I've been to many Gypsy and Traveller weddings, but I'm yet to attend a wedding where the bride's dress weighs more than my whole family. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some huge dresses but there is something you need to know: Thelma Madine is lying to you, she's not our dressmaker of choice. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed for her because no one actually knows who she is and everything she says about us is actually untrue. Basically, you've been conned, so I suggest you find a new spokesperson for the Gypsy and Traveller communities, such as an actual Gypsy or Traveller like my Baba (grandma), she makes some right nice clothes you know.

It's hardly surprising that people are watching your 'documentary' purely to laugh at us, because even I laugh at the monstrosities that Thelma Madine creates. It is a shame that you haven’t featured any Gypsy or Traveller designers because the clothing that we were actually more traditionally known for before your 'documentary', is actually far more interesting than amusing. Last year, Leeds University Union thought it would be okay to laugh at the Gypsy and Traveller communities by hosting a Big Fat Gypsy Weddings fancy dress party. While the union holds events throughout the year to celebrate other ethnic minorities, your 'documentary' encouraged them to incite ethnic hatred. You'll be pleased to know that due to complaints from yours truly and friends, the event was shelved.

You seem to have misunderstood what a documentary about Gypsies should entail. Gypsies (as in Romany Gypsies that are completely different to Irish Travellers, that are like totally not Irish Travellers at all, get it?) are Europe's largest and most deprived ethnic minority. The majority of Romani people have never been to Rathkeale, let alone own houses there. In fact, most live in great poverty and I suggest you read my previous blogs. We suffer from discrimination on a daily basis and our human rights have historically been violated, yet you deem it acceptable to broadcast a misleading 'documentary' that has been made not to raise awareness of our plight but for entertainment. We are not a joke, we are human beings and your work of fiction is only strengthening stereotypes and ignorance.

Unlike those who star in your 'documentary' I am not after 5 minutes of fame, but what I am asking for, is for you to put humans above ratings. You can't ignore us forever.

Yours sincerely,