Is this genuine curiosity or is it prurient ‘peeping on the others so that we can make fun of them’? I am not entirely sure why people want to watch and then make fun of or be outraged by ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’.
Roma or traveller culture is a very interesting culture in its own right and there are some excellent and very readable anthropological books about their life, customs and beliefs about the Gadji (that’s us, non-Roma people). In many ways, the Romani are much stricter about personal hygiene, morality and drinking than mainstream society. But of course that’s not going to improve TV ratings, while excessive titles and pictures of larger-than-life wedding dresses might.
I come from an East European country where (thanks to EU integration) the Roma are no longer officially repressed, but they are still feared, distrusted, abused verbally, avoided, ignored and blamed for everything that is wrong with society. Of course, in return, they take revenge for this state of affairs through petty crime and living up to their fearsome reputation (some of them). The traveller community in Britain leads an almost parallel life to the mainstream society, so barely registers in visibility, but I find much of the discourse about them very similar. Fearful, negative or disparaging.
It is a typical example of resorting to stereotypes rather than really learning about and from each other. I do hope that TV programmes like ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’ will- in spite of the title, the pictures and the laughter in the media – make us slightly more knowledgeable about traveller culture, more curious about other cultures in general and less quick to judge.