Blog 4: Implied Argument

Artworks always, in one sense or another, have meaning, even when the very idea of meaningful art is challenged by the work itself, like in Dadaism. The film you have chosen will have an array of characters who will be presented a certain way: there will most-likely be villains and heroes, men and women, and Romanies and non-Romanies. It’s very likely that the “good” and “bad” characters will be complicated, even sympathetic, and that will probably challenge the viewer’s ideas of villain and hero in the story. The same is probably true for the Romani characters– their characters may be stereotypes in some ways, but perhaps not in others. They may be very sympathetic and likable, and then also romanticized in a problematic way. Perhaps the Romani character is a criminal, but he’s noble in other ways. Very few things in life and art are straightforward. This week, explain in 300 words what the film you’ve chosen implies about Gypsies. 

As you watch the film you’re working with, take note of all the “Gypsy stereotypes” in the film and of how the characters and traits are presented. Are they sympathetic characters or not? Which qualities are “good” or “bad”? And which qualities are stereotypes? Use specific examples from the film to illustrate your point. For example: Jasmina the Romani girl steals, but she only because she’s starving and she only takes food from the villagers who try to bomb her village. She would rather go hungry than steal from that nice old lady down the road. This would be an example of a stereotypical Gypsy character, but she’s sympathetic, and it’s because there is 1. a context for her crimes, and b. she still has her own admirable moral code. But is she the only sympathetic Gypsy character? Is she an anomaly or the norm? Why might she be presented this way? What does it suggest about the community at-large?

Notice how the film’s use of logos (logic), ethos (ethics), and pathos (emotion) forms its implied argument. Jasmina’s example definitely uses all three: logos and ethos because she only steals from the people who oppress her, and pathos because she is desperate and would rather starve than wrong an innocent person. 

The film you picked might make it’s argument by defying Romani stereotypes all-together. That’s important too! What does that suggest? And how is it done?

Once you have a sense of the implied argument of the film, it’ll be much easier to decide what kind of argument you want to make. Image

Madam Simza the heroine of Game of Shadows and she both defies and confirms stereotypes

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French minister Valls defends call for Roma expulsions

French minister Valls defends call for Roma expulsions

So… this is happening.

Valls rhetoric is unabashedly fascist– he’s calling for Roma’s expulsion as though they are pestilence, “the world’s misery,” and not people. This is an example of the kind of social/political situation that informs the representation of Roma in the media. 

Blog 3: What’s the social and/or political context of your film?

Art isn’t made it a vacuum, so for the the Researched Essay about representations of Romani people in film, you’ll need to research the social and political context of the film you’ve selected in order to make a comprehensive analysis of the function of Romani characters within it. 

The example I used in class was Coppola’s 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Romani characters in Dracula have very minor roles, but primarily, they are Dracula’s helpers. They protect his body, and trick  anyone who may harm Dracula; voluptuous women dressed as Gypsies (though not named as such) are his undead lovers, and the brawny Gypsy men do his bidding, like digging up enormous amounts of dirt to house his coffin. The film is set in 1462 in Romania, and at that time and place, Gypsies were forced into slavery and were brutalized, raped, and beaten by their masters. Vlad the Impaler, Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula, persecuted the Gypsies with particular violence and passion. Considering this, what does this suggest about Romanies in this film? How does the social and political context of the work inform the depiction of Romanies? And what about the social and political backdrop of America in 1992? Does that have any bearing on the representation of Romanies in the film?

I think it’s safe to say that Romanies in Dracula are pretty-one dimensional. They are, what Hancock would call, necessarily Gypsies in this story: they are magical, lusty, and aligned with darkness and the occult. But does the historical context further malign an already gruesomely mistreated people? Or does it suggest that a dark, powerful ruler forced Dracula’s Romani helpers into a kind of enchanted slavery?  Also, how might the film’s representation of the Romani helpers reflect 1992 America’s view of Gypsies?

For the film that you pick, you’ll need to do some digging and write 300 words about the social/political context for Romanies and some ideas you have about how that might inform their representation. Find out when and where the story is set and use the FSU library website, RADOC, resources on our course site, and our course books to find out what was going on then for Romanies. Pay attention to when the film itself was made and who made it– for example Guy Ritchie has talked in interviews about his representation of Romani people in Sherlock Holes Game of Shadows and of Travelers in Snatch.

Have fun researching!


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Being a “Gypsy”: The Worst Social Stigma in Romania

Being a “Gypsy”: The Worst Social Stigma in Romania

The roots of systemic antigypsyism go deep, not just in Romania, but everywhere. This article explores the current political movements, journalism and media practices, and education curriculum in Romania that cultivate ‘Vladian’ attitudes toward the Roma, calls for “extermination” and all. It’s easier somehow to forgive the ignorance and hatred of many centuries ago, but little has changed. This is much harder to forgive.