Tuesday, January 25, 2011

UK's Trash = Still Classier than MTV's Teen Moms

The UK's Channel 4 recently introduced a program called My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, a rare glimpse into the secretive lives of Britain's demonized traveling minority.  For those not in the know, gypsies (gypos, pikeys, etc) are literally just that: descendants of Romani and Irish traveling groups who maintain their heritage via the propagation of large families and bohemian, communal living (frequently in caravans).  From what I can gather, in Britain, they're maligned in much the manner of American "trailer trash."  The series offers up a really phenomenally fascinating social study of the group, focusing on their shockingly staunch moral codes and the expectations forced upon their teenage girls.

Amazingly, the series premiere has been posted on YouTube in full and it's well worth a watch.  These girls are brought up to be maritally minded, barred from dating without a chaperone (contrary to the reputation fostered by their stereotypically skimpy mode of dress), and groomed to marry by the time their 17.  It's thoroughly bizarre, like staring into some alternate puritanical reality in which the women have exchanged bonnets for crop tops and farm work for babysitting and dreaming of layer upon layer of cloud pink netting.  In short: gypsies are just like Paris Hilton's small town visits on The Simple Life, but more of a sociological case study.  There's an infuriating lack of feminism here.  As the girls aren't allowed to mingle solo with the boys, there's a courtship ritual called 'grabbing', in which they literally have to try to ferry the girl away from the group, corner her, and sometimes physically restrain her to try to steal a kiss or get a phone number.  It's totally insane, completely unacceptable, and yet, these girls are accustomed to it being just another part of the way things are.  I mean, I don't know about you, but in elementary school there was this kid named Ted who used to run around trying to kiss all the girls.  He used methods like that, and even at 5 the girls knew to give him a shove (sometimes worse).  

Watch this before it disappears.  You have to.  It's like PBS doing Teen Mom, only it's actually entertaining.

Also?  Gypsy wedding would make a pretty good party theme...

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