Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Gypsy Life

Fio turns off her laptop and her brain at eight every night in order to dumb herself down for when she goes to bed about ten. That gives her two hours to fill with non-stimulating material. Obviously, she turns on TV.

She seems to prefer shows about people out of the ordinary--dwarfs, tiara toddlers, and gypsies. Yes, British gypsies have wandered into the desolate landscape that was Friday night TV. The name of the show is My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and it's bizarre.

The gypsy/traveler life is different from yours and mine. The men work physical labor in the great outdoors and the women are strictly homebodies. And by "home," Fio means a travel trailer--without a bathroom because their tradition makes it taboo to have a toilet inside the home. The program has yet to explore the alternative.

The children are brought up in their gender roles from birth, the females to be sexually alluring and the males to be super macho. The high point of a woman's life is, of course, her wedding, usually when she's a teenager. Bridal gowns are outrageous costumes and the bridesmaids look like showgirls. The groom pulls off his own drama by such things as arriving in a helicopter, a huge stretch limousine, or a giant SUV.

It's definitely a different life, aiming at drama, glamor and glitter. It's also usually a secret life, like that of any group at odds with the general run of things. Why are the gypsies/travelers cooperating with the filming of this reality show? Probably because they are increasingly under fire in Britain, being driven out of camping grounds, being driven to the wall. Authorities have good reason--those macho men often supplement their income with cons or "smash and grab" jobs.

After all, their daughters' monstrous weddings have to be paid for somehow.

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