Thursday, February 23, 2012

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings 2

The series returned to UK screens a couple of weeks ago, and there was a good deal more of this:

Yes, that's right, a pineapple and a palm tree. Beautiful dresses, aren't they? Elegant.

But there's also been a bit of a furore this week with the wider traveller community answering back to what they see as negative stereotyping. Pip McKenzie, a Romani gypsy wrote an open letter to Channel 4 accusing them of inciting 'ethnic hatred'. The letter can be read on his blog:

Pip writes that, "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."

Channel 4 responded here:

The key point I think being that - "Despite your fear that people are watching the documentaries simply to laugh at Gypsies and Travellers, I think the films are celebratory and I hope never derogatory."

Interesting stuff. Are Channel 4 being disingenuous by saying that the films aren't made to laugh at Travellers? How do we account for their use of the comedy pizzicato music I noted in my blog last year ( if this is the case? How should we account for the fact that this blog entry regularly pulls in page views, and the fact that the documentary has become something of a world wide phenomena?

The problem is, I can't get enough of that programme, and seemingly neither can others. But we need to think about what we're engaging with here.