A group representing Gypsies and travellers in London says posters promoting Channel 4’s observational documentary, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, featuring the slogan “Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier”, stigmatise members of their communities.
The London Gypsy and Traveller Unit (LGTU) mounted a protest in Hackney in east London yesterday against billboards featuring the posters, while a letter was hand-delivered to Channel 4’s head office in Westminster.
“What does ‘Gypsier’ mean in this context and what do the images say about being a Gypsy?” asked the letter. “The stereotype promoted is that of apparently alluring girls and young women and of menacing young men.
“It is hurtful and damaging to use the correct descriptive term for an ethnic group as a sly dig at that group,” it continued. “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’?”
With that thought in mind, the LGTU mocked up their own poster, featuring a picture of a skimpily dressed black woman sitting on the bonnet of a car, together with the words “Bigger. Blingier. Blacker”.
The LGTU said it had contacted the Advertising Standards Authority to see if its codes of practice had been breached by the billboards.
In a statement, Channel 4 said the campaign built 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 into the communities featured… The terms ‘Gypsy’ 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,” it added.