Blog 10

After learning about Vayu, the Romani wind god, in my poem by Valdemar Kalinin, I was curious to learn a little more about Romani spirituality. I know that religious beliefs vary among Romani, some being Christians while there being other religious practiced as well. I know that Romanies ultimately originate from India, and that being one of the reasons that they believe in a wind god because it relates to Hinduism- a prominent religion in India. However, I was a little shocked to find that some believe that “Romanies have no religion” upon reading up on radoc.net. “It is not difficult to understand why outside observers were uniformly convinced that Romanies have no religion.  Apart from there being no tangible evidence—a sacred text, a temple or a priest for example—Romani society is tightly closed to outsiders, considerably reducing the opportunity to observe cultural behavior at close quarters.  Ethnographers attempting to enter Romani households report being kept at arm’s length by various means, even by being met at the door with feigned epileptic seizures or frightening explosions of profanity” (http://www.radoc.net/radoc.php?doc=art_b_history_romanireligion&lang=en&articles=true)

Romani spirituality is alive and well, despite those who deny it. There is connection with Greek deities, as two deities, one named Vayu (the god of the wind and air). One of the sayings about Vayu is “Our Vayu flies under everyone’s petticoats, and no one can catch him” (radoc.net). There is also a female spirit of fates called the vursitorja, which hover for three days after a child is born to determine its destiny and to influence the choice of name the parents will decide upon.

The Romani practice of Ayuredic shows similarities to the Indian caste system, and is central to Romani ritual purity. “The Ayurvedic concept of ritual purity and ritual pollution, so central to Romani belief, existed in the 11th century caste system and continue to exist today; thus members of the same jati (sub-caste) may eat together without risk of contamination, for example, but will become polluted if they eat with members of other jati; and because the jatis of one’s associates might not always be known, contact between the mouth and the various utensils shared with others at a meal is avoided, just to be on the safe side” (radoc.net). Romani spirituality and practices are still seen being practiced, but many Romani practice Western religions like Islam, Christianity, and Islam. I plan to use Romani spirituality, like some of the gods in my poem, as well as some of the practices because they are unique and historic. 

Advertisements

Blog 9 Proverbs

“You can’t hide a cat in a sack, its claws will show themselves (through it). The truth truth will eventually reveal itself” (Hancock 145). 

I picked this proverb from Ian Hancock’s, We Are the Romani People because I have a cat back home, and out of the truth behind this. A proverb is defined as “is a simple and concrete saying, popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim. Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proverb). 

The truth behind the proverb that I picked has to do with living an honest life, i.e, not trying to hide your lies. The cat symbolizes some form of untruthfulness, whether it be a lie or some deception you are trying to keep people from seeing, because the “claws” will show through at some point. The claws showing themselves means that the truth will come out eventually.

I think this proverb serves as a way to encourage Romani people, who have been persecuted for countless years, to just live honest lives. So often Romani’s are judged by their culture and what the things they do (stealing, constantly moving around), that they feel like trying to hide these things about themselves from others. This proverb is encouraging them to just be open about their lives and heritage because the truth will come out eventually, and there is no point in hiding who you are. If you have moved between 5 different cities this month because you are being kicked out and run off in each one you arrive at, why should you hide or feel shame for that? Being honest with yourself and your peers will make you feel much more accepted; there is no shame in being happy with who you are. 

Blog 8 – Marina Obradovic

Image 

This photo (http://thegypsychronicles.net/marina-obradovic-2/#jp-carousel-906) is by Marina Obradovic, a French multimedia artist and photographer. In the photo I picked above, it seems to me that Obradovic has captured the image of a large, healthy, and happy, Romani family. There children, adults, and what looks to be a couple older adults who could be grandparents. Because this is a photograph, it is much different to analyze. Nothing was created, persay, in the sense that someone took a pencil and drew this, or they used a computer to create this image. In that itself, I think the natural element of this photo drew my attention, as well as it gives this art an aura of uniqueness. 

When looking at “Formal Visual Analysis: The Elements & Principles of Composition” (https://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/how-to/from-theory-to-practice/formal-visual-analysis), the most applicable characteristic to me is the unity in this photo. “Unity is created when the principles of analysis are present in a composition and in harmony. Some images have a complete sense of unity, while some artists deliberately avoid formal unity to create feelings of tension and anxiety. In this image, the large areas of contrasting textures, patterns and colors create a sense of balance and unity within the composition” (Formal Visual Analysis, Jeremy Glatstein). When first looking at this photo, I noticed how every one of the people pictured seemed to fit in perfectly, each in his or her own place. Everyone is wearing similar, bright clothing and laughing or smiling, seemingly enjoying having their picture taken. It seems as if they were all running around, laughing and playing before this picture was taken, and when Obradovic asked to take their picture they ran over and just fell into place, in unity. 

Another reason I like and chose to use this picture is because of the simplicity and happiness. In today’s society, we are often flooded with pictures that have been enhanced one way or another, whether it be through a filter, or digital modification like PhotoShop. The real, true natures of these people are pictured here, so that the real smiles, dimples, teeth, hair styles, clothing styles, body types, chosen jewelry, and so on, are pictured. 

Blog 7: You Smug Bastard by Ian Hancock Analysis

“You smug bastard” by Ian Hancock.

 

You smug bastard

With your uniform and frozen smile.

How’s your mother?

I haven’t seen mine in quite a while.

A second opinion?

To hear again I’m not right

For your precious Canada?

“Not our type of immigrant”?

Too righteous for words.

No thanks.

We live our lives hearing this shit

From people like you.

Jailers, immigration officers, policemen.

No faces:

Twelve million soundless throats

A thousand years of being pushed away

By your fathers and your children.

Can you even begin to imagine

The feelings you’ve created?

I’m sorry. Let me try to be more like you.

Let me in. Let me embrace my father.

I won’t be bad again.

 

I chose to analyze this poem become of the passion that Hancock has put into this work. This poem is Hancock’s way of expressing his feelings in the best way that he can. All of the problems he has clearly had with the Canadian government in regards to emigrated there is being expressed through his poetry. Hancock writes in an author’s note above, “I wrote this 25 years ago after a harrowing morning at the Canadian Embassy in London. I was trying to emigrate to Canada to join my family there, but was refused because my papers had “Romany” written on them.” (The Roads of the Roma pg. 131). Hancock is fed up with the emigration officials because it is clear to him that the only reason he is not being allowed to visit is because of his race.

In the third line when Hancock writes, “How’s your mother?” the officials seem to be teasing him about not being able to see his mother. Clearly a sore subject, Hancock would like to fire back and ask them the same question, as well as getting across that he has not seen his mother in quite awhile. He misses his mother, and they are the ones holding him up from seeing her and the rest of his family.

This continual “second class citizen” treatment that Hancock has received his whole life is poured out when he writes, “We live our lives hearing this shit from people like you, jailers immigration officers, policemen… A thousand years of being pushed away… Can you even begin to image the feelings you’ve created?” (131).  He’s calling out the Canadian officials that he’s currently dealing with, even taking a crack of his own at them. When he says “From people like you” I read the “you” with more emphasis so that he’s insulting the jailers, immigration officers, and policemen for having crappy jobs where they just hassle people like him.

There is a lot of anger and frustration put into this poem because of the realness of the situation. This has happened to Hancock frequently, and it’s getting to him.

 

Works Cited 

Hancock, Ian. “You smug bastard.” The Roads of the Roma: a PEN anthology of Gypsy writers. Ed. Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, Rajko Djurić. Great Britian: University of Hertfordshire Press, 1998. 131. Print. 

 

Tough Guise

The movie “Big Fat Gypsy Gangster” depicts a large man as a gypsy gangster who is just being released from prison. This whole film does depict Romani (the main character, Bulla, is supposed to be Romani but looks nothing like a Romani man) men as violent and as criminals. Bulla is a mobster who is very prone to picking fights against people who disagree with him. At 1:07 in the trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eT5EI8nFYeY) you can see two men fighting in an arena similar to something you see chickens fight in. This scene is actually pretty funny, as the whole movie is really, but depicts 2 Romani men acting in a violent manner. The people around are cheering and encouraging the fight of course, too. In Dr. Ian Hancock’s article he writes, “Like Mr. Marlock, Investigator Worst also believes “Gypsy” to be a category of person defined by his behavior rather than by his ethnicity. Ms. Steliga reminded Investigator Worst that he had earlier told her that Gypsies were “uneducated, and they traveled in a ring, that they were fraudulent,” and asked him “is that their ethnicity?”.  His immediate answer was “No.”And because Gypsies in Mr. Worst’s mind are criminals, and because Mr. Willis is a Gypsy, he is therefore also a criminal.”

 This is what Big Fat Gypsy Gangster does to a tee. Bulla looks nothing like a Romani man, and even has a British accent, yet the movie title implies that he is a gypsy gangster. This mistaken portrayal of their main character makes me think that these characters are incidentally gypsy, or they actually think gypsy men are big fat gangsters who swear a lot. Nonetheless, having seen the movie, I feel bad writing this against them in a way because it really is funny in it’s own way, but reinforcing negative stereotypes is bad. 

 

The Male Gaze and Representations of Romani Women

ImageImage

 

These two pictures are taken from a film I am currently writing on, Thinner. As clearly expressed by these two images, two men are gazing, watching, lusting, and fantasizing in a single captured moment over a gypsy woman. In this scene, the man on the right in the first picture tells his friend, the man on the left, to go walk down and give the gypsy woman a quarter to life up her skirt. Not only does that act, or the intention of that act rather, stereotype gypsy women as being valued to a quarter, but it symbolizes this “male gaze” that we are looking for. In addition, the fact that the man offers only a mere quarter in order to sway this gypsy woman (whose last name in this movie, as a matter of fact, is Romani) signifies that she is less worth to him than a stripper, who at least gets a dollar. This gypsy woman is worth 75% less to this man than a stripper. What’s even worse is that the man on the left accepts the quarter, goes down and gives it to Mrs. Romani who then lifts up her skirt and shoots him the bird. While her tenacity is admirable, the fact that the movie producers and directors show this gypsy woman accepting a quarter in return for a very revealing dance, is a shame. A shame on these directors, writers, and producers, that they would showcase gypsy woman in such a low light, like they must take a quarter because they need the money so badly. 

“A. In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness” (III. Women as Image, Men as Bearer of the Look, Laura Mulvey). This quote signifies all that is being said by these two images. Both of the men are the active parties, while the very attractive gypsy woman stands and watches them gaze at her. She knows she is being admired, and they know that she knows which makes it even more arousing for them. The gypsy woman is dressed in revealing clothing (tight shirt showing some stomach and a skirt) to promote her “to-be-looked-at-ness” and attract the men- which, of course, works and one man comes down. After reading Mulvey’s article, it is no secret what is being done here. 

Industry Inequality and Gender Bias

The question is, “How do industry inequality and gender bias in awards relate to the portrayal of women in films and what does the Bechdel Test do to measure that portrayal? How could this help us understand and gauge Romani representation and portrayal in the media?”

Clearly, thanks to sources like “Feminist Frequency” and “Upworthy.com” many have identified the problem of women being under-represented in films, the making of said films, and of course the awards that go along with these films. The frequent feminist pointed out the staggering percentage of women in…. 9 best pictures. The movies nominated for Best PIcture in 2011, and that should not be forgotten. These movies were VOTED to be the BEST pictures despite their careful lack of representation of men, women, white people, African-Americans, and so on. While it was clear that (arguably) 4 movies passed this Bechdel test, there was obviously a lack of female interaction in these movies– movies deemed the annual best. 

The Bechdel Test performed as advertised. It showed that women were not as apparent/represented to men in the 9 best pictures nominated in 2011. I get the idea behind this test, though, and it is a good one. It shows how little some minorities factor into movies. Coupled with statistics from upworthy.com (http://www.upworthy.com/13-of-women-with-speaking-roles-in-movies-are-more-likely-to-be-naked?c=ufb1) we can see that, when women are represented, they are rarely speaking, often naked, partially clothed, and so on. 

If we take this test and apply it to Gypsies, then I guarantee the results will even be worse. This test would help gauge Romani representation and portrayal, if we tested every movie. This is a great idea, if someone had the time and effort it would be a great help to showcase Romani representation. The representation would be even lower, and the sexualization higher.