WHAT IS BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDING? Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is a documentary that was first aired in February 2010 and since has become widely popular. It gives the public an insight into the traveling community lifestyle, which they find fascinating as it is so different to western culture.
WHAT IS BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDING? The programme has also been exceptionally controversial in the way that it has depicted the traveller lifestyle- some critics would argue, for example, the Guardian: On one level this was a sensitive look at a complex and in some ways contradictory society; on another level it was just about really big dresses.
DEFINITION & PUBLIC INTERPRETATIONS OF GYPSY CULTURE
BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDING h?v=LqJx2OX__Q0
ENCODING/DECODING Stuart Hall created the encoding and decoding model where he suggested three main types of decoding or reading that could be identified in our engagement in texts: Dominant – preferred reading : With regards to the clip, it could be argued that the preferred reading is for audiences to be entertained and given an insight into the gypsy culture. Negotiated reading : Audiences may be entertained, however could form negative views of the travellers society as it is different to their own cultural conditions. Oppositional reading: This may be that the way the gypsies are portrayed to the audience may not be the approach that the travellers themselves wanted to be depicted. Instead of drawing attention to the gypsy culture, a more stereotypical approach is adopted, confirming the western stereotypes.
STEREOTYPES - YOUTH Common stereotype of Gyspy culture is that theyre uneducated and are not well behaved. In this advert, the young boys are seen to be involved in a fight whilst drinking alcohol. As this is clip is being shown, the narrator states In a world where a man… is a man Their aggression is seen to be a sign of dominance which they are taught to have from a young age.
STEREOTYPES - YOUTH The young girls wear tight fitted, revealing clothing and dance provocatively which typically connotes promiscuity and un-lady like behaviour. However, during the programme it is revealed that they in fact hold strong values and are religious. This provides the viewer an insight to and may challenge their ideologies. A baby is shown with her toenails painted which provides a shock value for audience. The younger girls wear extravagant dresses and are taught to have high aims for their weddings.
GYPSY WOMEN STEREOTYPES As stated previously, stereotyping is a huge factor within our chosen clip. It is clear to see that in this clip an accurate portrayal is given of how channel 4s Big Fat Gypsy Wedding provides the westernised audience with a stereotypical view of traveller women. The sequence begins with the narrator discussing how gypsy culture used to be many years ago. A mid shot of two old traveller women is shown. They are both well dressed with the only clue that they belong to the travelling community being a headscarf and gold hoop earrings. We are then shown a gypsy girl from the twenty first century dressed in a sequined bra and knickers dancing in a provocative manner. This creates a clear contrast for the audience highlighting how the stereotypical gypsy woman has transformed through time.
GYPSY WOMEN STEREOTYPES A theme of male dominance is present throughout the clip which immediately degrades the gypsy women. It is a well known fact that traveller girls are brought up to mirror the typical woman or housewife. This is evident with in the sequence in the long shot of the girl in the caravan. She is shown to be cleaning and polishing which immediately favours the typical housewife stereotype which believes that women should stay at home cooking and cleaning whilst the husband goes out to work in order to support his family. The stereotype is reinforced when the narrator says in a world where a man is a man, and a woman knows her place (in this case – the kitchen) This behaviour is expected of gypsies from birth.
GYPSY WOMEN STEREOTYPES Another aspect of the gypsy woman stereotypes are the way they are sexualised through their outfits, provocative dancing and wild demeanor. During the clip we are shown numerous shots of traveller women dressed in short dresses, huge wedding gowns and tiny shorts. This has been constructed using low angle shots and close ups of their revealing attire. The extravagance of their outfits provides connotations of promiscuity which links back to how they are often degraded and arent treated equally in their society. The clip also demonstrates how they are expected to look as glamorous as possible through being heavily made up and covered in fake tan. This is expected of gypsy women from a young age as this is what is seen as being normal and attractive by the men in their community.
GYPSY WOMEN STEREOTYPES - THEORY A theorist that reinforces gender within the media is Judith Butler (Butler in Fuss 1991:140) She theorised gender as performative rather than innate or fixed. Mass media texts around the world are dominated by images of ideological femininity and masculinity which tells us how men and women are expected to look and behave. With regards to our text, we are shown how women are expected to behave within the traveller community. A second theorist that also can be applied to this research is Nick Lacey. His theory on stereotypes suggests that women are often seen as inferior to men. This is shown through stereotypes such as dumb blondes and housewives. Lacey states that the importance of running a household is diminished because its women's work; therefore women are diminished for doing the house work. This is a frequent theme in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and is a common view held throughout the gypsy community.
STEREOTYPE OF GYPSY MEN In the clip we have chosen, the men are depicted in a way which symbolises dominance and power over the female race as a central aspect of traveller culture. By having the narrator say in a world where a man is a man, while displaying scenes of a violence amongst the men, it is therefore portraying a rather stereotypical view of the gypsy culture-fuelling the opinions of the western society.
ANALYSING THE CLIP It could be argued that it is therefore portraying a rather stereotypical view of the gypsy culture- being violent and without moral order- fuelling the opinions of the western culture. It could be argued that while the gypsy community wants to steer away from this stereotype of traveller life, it is only fuelling western expectations from the way it is being exposed by the director- who we know is of modern ways and works for channel 4.
LINK TO THE READINGS My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings can link towards John Ellis argument as: Its shot in a documentary drama style which can relate to audiences wanting to watch others lives (voyeurism). It can also relate to the idea that viewers can think it is live as the documentary follows certain events and reports as though its filming the programme at the time of the event happening. Also as the TV show is a series it links to one of Ellis points about the on going narrative different from films. Gypsy weddings is a good example of this as the events that are narrated lack any sort of conclusion throughout the episodes also as the series is multi-stranded narrative is doesnt follow one point of view all throughout.
LINK TO THE READINGS It does not need the viewers full attention like a film e.g. the information transmitted through each episode about the gypsy travellers lives is informative however it uses a lot of satire which makes it easier for audiences to watch it passively. As John Ellis argues that Television Broadcasts are shot differently to films as it opens up for audiences to be distracted in the home