25/01/2011

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding - What about Gypsy Children's right?

So this episode focused on the fact that Travelers are worried about losing their culture. Most Travelers, don't actually travel anymore and they are, to an extent, being 'infiltrated' by the non traveler community....One of the ways they try to uphold the culture, apparently, is via celebrating the big events in life. Cut to a group of 8 year olds, on their way to a confirmation, dressed like hookers. Way to greet the Lord....

Tonight's episode also highlighted the wedding of traveler Pat, to non traveler Sam. A wedding that all involved, conceded, would be frowned upon by more traditional travelers. To compensate, Sam appeared to be throwing herself into Traveler culture. "She is more of a traveller than a traveller" said Thelma the dressmaker. So she went, trailer shopping. Where else would she house her Chanel bedspread? 'It's just like looking at houses" said Sam. Errrr, no it isn't Sam, it really isn't.

Sadly, her drive to seamlessly integrate didn't stop at the trailer...To further cement her credentials, that can really be the only reason for the monstrosity that was her wedding dress, Sam's wedding dress had a battery pack sewn in to it.... "We're really not sure if this is safe" Thelma remarked about the, clearly very flammable, dress. "Look at Michael Jackson, he had all sorts of people looking after him and look what happened." "They were fireworks" said one of her assistant. "Well this could go up like fireworks!" said Thelma. As a precaution, she decided to take a fire extinguisher with her to the wedding. I have nothing further to say about that dress, other than "Lights" and "Robotic butterflies"...

At one point, the interviewer asked one of the Gypsy girls, who was to be one of Sam's bridesmaids, what she thought of non travelers. The reply was that they have "no shame. Some of them swear...they have no respect for people around them." Sam's response to that comment? "Kiss my arse Alisha", thus proving the point. Despite incidents like that, Sam claimed, she was not worried about potential prejudice she might face from the community. Pat, clearly more circumspect than his bride to be acknowledged that he thought Sam bride was scared and "putting up a front". In Pat's words, "...and she should be scared, getting married, new life and a whole new culture." Let's not forget the outfits Pat, the scariest aspect of the whole thing.



Inexplicably, Sam's Mum seemed pleased.... Whilst Pat appeared level headed, her daughter would be living in a caravan??? No mother could possibly believe that was a good outcome for her 17 year old daughter could they? Sam's Mum, it appears, could... Dad had the decency to seem a bit bemused by the whole thing. Not really sure why, given he is married to Mum who in her wedding outfit, looked like an extra from the Thriller video. Did I say Pat seemed level headed? Well I did think that until I saw the 'pimped out monster truck' that he'd hired to get him to the wedding.

Cut to the confirmation ceremony of 'Mary-Ann' an eight year old traveler girl. As is clearly tradition, the children were either clad in outfits that a seasoned street walker would think twice about donning, or enormous creations akin to Miss Haversham's (from Great Expectations) before the decay set in. (Side note: did anyone else think the Priest sounded like Stephen Hawking?) The post confirmation party consisted of a multitude of scantily clad small children, gyrating suggestively to R&B music. Appropriate? Mary-Ann's Grandma thought it was. In fact, she felt that 'it was lovely fir the chil'ren today". I'm not religious, but I feel fairly certain that the Lord, if he were to venture an opinion, wouldn't have agreed with Grandma...

So to the second main theme of the episode, the prejudice Gypsies face, that often results in their being forcibly removed from places they have settled in. One group had been settled on a plot of land, that they had bought, for over 7 years. They had consistently been refused permission to build on the land, but had done so anyway. As a result the structures were due to be destroyed and they were going to be evicted. (Not sure how they can be evicted from land they own??)


A scene of an eviction on a neighbouring site was quite distressing. It did make you think there must be a better way to deal with this. It genuinely did seem harsh and unfair to me... until I saw the 6 year old daughter of one of the group getting her first spray tan and being made up to look like one of those hideous baby beauty queens they have in the US. It wasn't all bad, she wasn't dressed like a hooker. Perhaps that's not allowed until you're 8. On the downside, the massive and very heavy dress that was wearing, caused her pain (and extreme bruising) and had to be removed. So she slipped into her traditional hooker outfit. The good news was that she blended right in with the other little girls....
In all seriousness, the families evicted from one of the sites had nowhere to go and were facing a future that would involve driving aimlessly around the country. As one Grandma pointed out, the government is always talking about childrens rights. "Who's looking after the rights of the gypsy children?" Bearing in mind those children would have no access to schooling, it does make you wonder.

Next week's episode will focus on what it's like to be a Gypsy woman. I predict that I won't be impressed....

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