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Thread: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

  1. #21
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by causingchaos View Post
    It was absolutely horrible to watch how these folks were treated where I was. They had little option for work options due how they are treated by majority society in many countries. And it was absolutely shocking that the kids were not allowed to go to school when I was there. NGOs end up working with these groups to get them the education and so forth that they need. Have to say after spending many many hours and days in a Roma community I never once got pick pocketed. Not one single time. Not once asked for money. While I know this occurs in cities (really tourists anywhere in the world are just giant targets for any fringey people) there is more to this culture than scams and pick pocketing. But really when you're not even allowed to live somewhere because you're entire culture is being driven out of countries what are the options? when there are laws that you can't have a living in a country... what is the option? What Hitler started the rest of modern society is finishing off with this culture and i find it profoundly sad. What I saw was a group of very traditional people trying their best to make it in crappy circumstances. I have friends who continue to work with NGOs that work with these groups. And I find the premise of this show sad as well. If they're going to show the culture show some of the external realities in places other than England (where it's likely a more acculturated group of Roma than in the rest of Europe).
    I suspect the reason they're not showing a broader picture of the culture is that TLC (allegedly the learning channel) isn't particularly interested in teaching anything, much like Bravo, which started out as a channel devoted to the arts quickly gave up on that kind of programing for what was cheaper and drew bigger crowds. I sometimes get the uncomfortable feeling that TLC is interested in becoming the electronic version of the old fashioned freak show. They're better in that they sometimes try to show the humanity of people who might ordinarily be simply stared at, but they still attempt to draw people's initial attention by choosing subjects that live lives that aren't typical, whether because they're physically or culturally different. And I admit that I sometimes watch, but I keep hoping, perhaps stupidly, that I might still learn something in spite of their tactics.

    I understand that TLC changed the narrator for the BBC series, choosing to add voiceovers of their own. Does anyone know if the changes are substantive or is this basically what BBC viewers heard as well?

    As for people being robbed blind, around here we are always warned not to let any firm that isn't local and that we can't check the credentials of work on houses or yards. I have no idea if the American version of travelers are what we're being warned about, but I always just assumed it made sense to stick to contractors etc. whom you know you can contact later about the work, as opposed to someone who's moving on to another town. I'd rather pay the going rate than try to get a better deal that's riskier on a major repair project. Personally, my tree guy is an immigrant from the Ukraine, and he's cheap, fast, and does great work. However, he's also local. And my roofer is a guy who's been in the business for decades.

  2. #22
    Christian,Mom,Teacher mom2's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    I am also wondering if the rule about girls not going out alone is over once she is married ... Hmmmm.
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  3. #23
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    This show makes no pretense of being a documentary about the culture of Travellers/Roma. Although it was created in the UK, it's typical TLC freak show fare: let's gawk at these people and their bizarre customs.

    My widowed MIL was the victim of a driveway paving scam years ago. She reported it to the police and they told her they had been inundated by calls from people like her (most of them also elderly) who had also been scammed and they knew it was several Traveller men who had been making the rounds in that part of the state. It was a small town and the Travellers were long gone before the small police force could do anything. So I have no sympathy for a culture of grifters who mercilessly steal from trusting elderly people.

    The focus in this show is mostly on the Traveller women, and very few of the men appear on camera. Even in the wedding scenes, there are mostly young boys rather than men. In the royal wedding episode (on YouTube), the groom's face is pixeled out because he said he wouldn't be able to get a job if it was known he's a Traveler. Yes, it would be harder to run scams -- and easier for the cops to find you -- if your face was identifiable to millions of TV viewers.

    This is a self-perpetuating society, keeping the children uneducated so they won't be able to do anything other than the "family business", and the women are married off young to begin reproducing and continuing the cycle. All of the attention given to the wedding makes sense when you consider this is the last hurrah for the bride, who will then go on to a hard life of transient living, poor health care, and looking like she's 60 by the time she's 40.

  4. #24
    Christian,Mom,Teacher mom2's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    This new episode gave me the chills about after the wedding. No surprises, but still. The girl who had a job for 5 years, then got married and gave up all her freedom to be chained to the small RV said it all ... teenagers should put off getting married as long as they can because they give up their fun after that.

    And "Paddy" ... another character altogether.

    Interesting how bare-knuckle fighting is illegal, but it's okay if they do it because it's their culture so they give themselves a pass.

    I would like to know what these men do career wise? And how long?
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  5. #25
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by mom2 View Post
    This new episode gave me the chills about after the wedding. No surprises, but still. The girl who had a job for 5 years, then got married and gave up all her freedom to be chained to the small RV said it all ... teenagers should put off getting married as long as they can because they give up their fun after that. And "Paddy" ... another character altogether. Interesting how bare-knuckle fighting is illegal, but it's okay if they do it because it's their culture so they give themselves a pass. I would like to know what these men do career wise? And how long?
    Teenagers also should not be getting married, because who you'd pick at sixteen is not always who you'd want to be with at twenty-five or thirty--and it sounded a lot like divorce was simply not something to be considered, considering the comments made in that episode. I wondered, too, about that young woman. How can you fill up your day taking care of a trailer that small, even if you're a total neat freak? I realize a lot of the women have children too, but she didn't. You can only cook and clean for so long.

    If I recall correctly, they said Paddy was the manager of that trailer park but also bought, rebuilt, and sold cars as well as doing what sounded like asphalt work on the side (they called it something else, but I assumed that's what they meant). In an earlier episode, one of the gypsy grooms was referred to as a tree surgeon.

    I also saw a rerun of an earlier episode, and I definitely heard this time that they did not have permission to build on the land where they showed buildings being bulldozed. They did own the land, but evidently they did not have the permits to build on it, which is why they were given a 28 day notice after a prolonged court battle. I think one of the women involved said they'd been fighting a five year legal battle.

    I noticed something else too: in the repeated episode, they had a little pop-up on the bottom right hand corner of the screen asking gypsies or travelers in the US who would be willing to have their lives filmed to contact TLC, so I guess they're planning an American version. I can't think of any other reason they'd run a pop-up like that.

    A couple of other things occurred to me. Considering how much they keep saying they value religion, I wonder what would happen if a gypsy or traveler expressed an interest in becoming a nun, priest, or brother. It would certainly mean leaving the community, but at the same time, it would seem to be something that the community would endorse if they really place a priority on Catholicism. Given the strongly defined divisions between gender roles/behaviors emphasized in the last episode, I wondered what would happen if a traveler or gypsy were gay/lesbian. Certainly there must be a percentage of them that are; statistically, that should be a given.

  6. #26
    9/11/2001 NEVER FORGET. Ten Pin Bowling Champion, Bookworm Champion Eastcoastmom's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    I watched part of an episode late last night for the first time. The one where the 16 yo introduced her little brothers and sisters and the young girl was getting fitted for her Communion dress. It was bizarre yet fascinating. However, it was almost 2 am and I could not stay awake to see the end. My son wrote a paper for his Sociology class last year on the Gypsies or Rom. His info came from his class text titled Extraordinary Groups. He had to contrast 2 different groups and he chose the Gypsies and the Mormons. One thing I was confused about from the perhaps hour I viewed last night was the Catholicism of these people. Were they introduced as Irish Travelers or Rom? If they were perhaps of Irish or maybe even English ethnicity I could see them being Catholic. But the Rom, from what I had read, were originally from Eastern Europe, Romania, and were darker in complexion. In my son's text it does not mention any devoutness on the Rom's part as to religion but does say that they may adopt the religion of their host country.

    I'd be interested to see if they talk at all about having limited interaction with all non-Gypsies (gadje) and the concept of "marime" (literally pollution or defilement). I quoted this part of my son's paper b/c I found it fascinating:

    "Gypsies consider all gadje “marime”. For an outsider it is a difficult concept to grasp. Basically, Gypsies regard the upper half of the body (face, mouth) as clean and the lower half ( genital and anal regions, especially) as marime or defiled. There are so many rituals involved with this concept; they cannot mix the upper and lower halves of the body in any way. Certain towels are used for each region, as well as soaps. Each family member has his own set of towels, soaps, and food utensils. Clothes cannot be washed in the same sink as dishes. The concept of marime acts a social control; to be declared marime is a fate often worse than death, almost like a shunning. Marime also acts as a barrier to assimilation. Not only are all non-Gypsies considered “marime”, but so are the items they come in contact with. Being surrounded by non-Gypsies at the workplace, in schools or hospitals pollutes the Gypsy. So avoidance is necessary."

  7. #27
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastcoastmom View Post
    I watched part of an episode late last night for the first time. The one where the 16 yo introduced her little brothers and sisters and the young girl was getting fitted for her Communion dress. It was bizarre yet fascinating. However, it was almost 2 am and I could not stay awake to see the end. My son wrote a paper for his Sociology class last year on the Gypsies or Rom. His info came from his class text titled Extraordinary Groups. He had to contrast 2 different groups and he chose the Gypsies and the Mormons. One thing I was confused about from the perhaps hour I viewed last night was the Catholicism of these people. Were they introduced as Irish Travelers or Rom? If they were perhaps of Irish or maybe even English ethnicity I could see them being Catholic. But the Rom, from what I had read, were originally from Eastern Europe, Romania, and were darker in complexion. In my son's text it does not mention any devoutness on the Rom's part as to religion but does say that they may adopt the religion of their host country.




    I'd be interested to see if they talk at all about having limited interaction with all non-Gypsies (gadje) and the concept of "marime" (literally pollution or defilement). I quoted this part of my son's paper b/c I found it fascinating:

    "Gypsies consider all gadje “marime”. For an outsider it is a difficult concept to grasp. Basically, Gypsies regard the upper half of the body (face, mouth) as clean and the lower half ( genital and anal regions, especially) as marime or defiled. There are so many rituals involved with this concept; they cannot mix the upper and lower halves of the body in any way. Certain towels are used for each region, as well as soaps. Each family member has his own set of towels, soaps, and food utensils. Clothes cannot be washed in the same sink as dishes. The concept of marime acts a social control; to be declared marime is a fate often worse than death, almost like a shunning. Marime also acts as a barrier to assimilation. Not only are all non-Gypsies considered “marime”, but so are the items they come in contact with. Being surrounded by non-Gypsies at the workplace, in schools or hospitals pollutes the Gypsy. So avoidance is necessary."

    In one episode, I think they made a point of saying they were dealing with both Roma and Travelers. They seem to be referring to the Travelers as Irish, but some of the Travelers are English as opposed to Irish, so far as I can tell.

    They have addressed the avoidance to some degree, though one marriage involved a non-gypsy woman and a gypsy guy. The guy in that pairing did mention that they were looking for a trailer that didn't have a toilet, because they would never use it and it would just be wasted space, since gypsy culture dictated that they shouldn't live where they go to the bathroom. I guess that's related to the clean/unclean idea.

  8. #28
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    In one episode, I think they made a point of saying they were dealing with both Roma and Travelers. They seem to be referring to the Travelers as Irish, but some of the Travelers are English as opposed to Irish, so far as I can tell.
    In the first episode the narrator said the Travelers originated in Ireland, but some have migrated to England and have lived there for generations. The main focus of the show so far has been on Travelers although the Roma are also represented. The more over the top weddings seem to be the Travelers.

    Violet Ann, the aging crone (22) who had worked for 5 years before her marriage, grew up living in a house rather than a trailer. Her father was shown looking at pictures of himself as a child who grew up living in a caravan. It's incredible to me that he'd given his daughter a much more stable environment to grow up and at least get some education that enabled her to get a job, and then he's fine with her living in a trailer after marriage. I guess there's no such thing as upward mobility in that society.

  9. #29
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Violet Ann seemed almost remorseful for going through with the marriage. Her words were truly words of wisdom, but even at 22 she is still so young! This show, though fascinating, dumbfounds me so much! I just don't understand the hypocrisy and the amount of power/control the patriarchs/males have makes me sad for the women.

  10. #30
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    I just watched the repeats of the first shows this afternoon. I found it very fascinating. Not all of them live in the tiny caravans, but it appears that many of them do. The girls seem to have extensive wardrobes. Besides the humongous first communion and wedding dresses, they have dresses for the numerous weddings they attend. I wonder where they store everything. They do make up for the gigantic dresses with skimpy next to nothing everyday wear.
    You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. ~Humbert

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