My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding protest in Hackney
“Channel 4, we have had enough your big fat mockumentary,” say Hackney’s Gypsies and Travellers
Gypsies and Travellers mounted a protest in Hackney today against the “stigmatising” publicity promoting the latest instalment of Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
The slogan “Bigger Fatter Gypsier” has been emblazoned on billboards across the UK, alongside pictures of children and half-naked girls.
They publicise the second series of the massively popular show which which attracted more than seven million viewers last year, and follows Gypsy and Traveller brides as they plan for their wedding day.
“What does “Gypsier” mean in this context and what do the images say about being a Gypsy?” asked a collective letter of complaint from the London Gypsy and Traveller Unit (LGTU) hand delivered to Channel 4’s head office in Westminster.
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“The stereotype promoted is that of apparently alluring girls and young women and of menacing young men,” it continues.
“It is hurtful and damaging to use the correct descriptive term for an ethnic group as a sly dig at that group.
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“We wonder if Channel 4 would have been so ready to use adverts with similarly compromising images and phrases like “Jewisher” or “more Asian” or “Blacker”?”
LGTU created their own poster as part of their protest in Westgate Street saying “Bigger Blingier Blacker,” portraying a black woman from Hackney in skimpy clothes draped across a car.
They want an apology and the withdrawal of the ads.
Christine Crawley, an Irish Traveller who lives in Lower Clapton said the posters made her feel sick, and her daughter had even been called a “prostitute” at school because of the way the Channel 4 programme portrayed her community.
LGTU is looking into whether the Advertising Standard Authority Codes of Practice have been breached.
In a statement, Channel 4 said the advertising campaign builds on the “celebratory nature” of the first series of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.
“The word “gypsier” refers to the fact that this series offers even greater access and insight to the communities featured, and the terms “gyspy” or “gypsier” are not being used in a negative context,” it said.
“Everyone featured in the campaign has seen the posters and is happy with them.
“All images were taken with full consent and all aspects of the poster campaign fully comply with advertising guidelines.”