Editor of Travellers’ Times Online, Jake Bowers, was present at the Herbert Gallery Museum in Coventry to talk about the hit TV programme – Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. The talk was a direct consequence to hundreds of complaints coming from the gypsy community all over United Kingdom.
According to Jake Bowers, one of the main problems was that the programme was labeled as a documentary when it should have been presented as an entertainment show. He said that the producers, Firecracker Films, had consciously depicted an inaccurate portrayal of the community he is a proud member of as they have cut out scenes that could have cleared any misunderstandings.
The Series had barely mentioned the Romany gypsies and has focused primarily on the Irish traveler segment of the minority, who represent only 10% of the community. Moreover, even Irish travelers are appalled by this cracked image as they claim the traditions and customs presented simply do not exist. Writes Nicoleta Popa…
Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the this story was the tradition of ‘grabbing’ which has caused indignant responses not only from the viewers but also from the travelers, who insist they did not even know about such a brutal custom. As a Romany gypsy himself, Jake Bowers says that this ‘tradition’ “has no place in our history or culture”.
The community journalist also mentioned that because of the programme and its large audience – almost 9 million watched the last episode of the series – new stereotypes and prejudgments have been added to the old ones. The bothersome idea that gypsies live in a man’s world has made the women look like “whores and slaves” according to Jake while the so-called documentary as a whole has created an image of “trailer trash Flintstones”.
Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is a proof of “sneering mockumentary not journalism” coming from Channel Four which has reached a “low tide mark” in production quality as Jake Bowers claims. However, he insists on seeing the silver lining of the situation; due to the programme his community has drawn media attention, which they intend to use to bring down old and new prejudices and make people aware of issues such as poverty, economics, and sexual exploitation, which the production has overlooked.
Even so, the discontent is obvious as Bowers says: “all documentaries are constructions to a certain extent” whilst this one was a deliberate misrepresentation. It is clear that the story will continue to receive media coverage and as he ended his speech, he insisted that the programme said little about his community “but a lot about yours”.
Picture Source: http://www.marriagesinasia.com and http://www.culturedviews.com