A young Romany blogger has hit out at Channel 4’s Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and caused a Twitterstorm.
Pip, who describes himself as “Not quite your average 17 year old Romany boy” has told Channel 4 in an open letter “I don't want to be the one to break it to you, but your documentary, 'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings', is unfortunately a work of fiction.”
Saying the he hopes the TV channel will stop ruining his live, he sets out some of the inaccuracies in the series which – according to Channel 4 - offers “unprecedented access to members of the traveller and gypsy communities to gain an even greater insight into their world.”
“While your obsession with my ethnicity is flattering,” writes Pip, “It has become somewhat apparent to me that you might have gotten the wrong end of the stick… and thus I hope my letter will help you establish the facts, after all I'm sure you are passionate about fighting discrimination against ethnic minorities. Don't be modest now, we know you are...right?"
Pip goes on to say, “It surprised me to discover that 99% of Britain's Gypsy and Traveller population are Irish. Correct me if I'm wrong, as I am sure you have done lots and lots of research on this topic, but just 10% of the Gypsy and Traveller population are actually Irish Travellers. The majority, like myself, are in fact Romany, yet your 'documentary' seems to ignore our existence … You seem to be unaware that we are two distinct ethnic groups and thus there are many differences between our cultures. While Irish Travellers originate from Ireland, we can trace our routes back to India …
“The myths that you have been spreading have not helped matters. Indeed, I was subjected to physical attacks during your last series of your 'documentary' which ultimately led to my expulsion from school (long story), whilst my 12 year old cousin was beat up on her way home from school by a gang of girls who were calling her a prostitute.”
Writing about his community the young blogger points out “We suffer from discrimination on a daily basis and our human rights have historically been violated, yet you deem it acceptable to broadcast a misleading 'documentary' that has been made not to raise awareness of our plight but for entertainment. We are not a joke, we are human beings and your work of fiction is only strengthening stereotypes and ignorance.
Unlike those who star in your 'documentary' I am not after 5 minutes of fame, but what I am asking for, is for you to put humans above ratings. You can't ignore us forever.”
Follow Pip on twitter @pipogypopotamus
where dozens of tweets and hundreds of re-tweets of support were posted within hours of his blog being published.
Last year this video about Travellers in Northern Ireland was made by An Munia Tober and the Falls Women's Centre. Three of the film-makers are Travellers and three are not. The film challenges some of the perceptions some people have of Travellers.
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