Blog 6: “Gypsy Mafia” and the “Tough Guise”

” It is… clear that those law enforcement officers who focus on the people they refer to as “Gypsies” and on “Gypsy crime” are in violation of the constitutional protection afforded Romani Americans (“Gypsies”), who are shielded as a group from this kind of discrimination under the terms of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  While an individual must be judged on the nature of his offense, he cannot pay a price for being what he is, though it is abundantly clear that in the United States today, as in 18th century England, simply being a Gypsy is enough to brand a person as a lawbreaker. ” –Dr. Ian Hancock

This week you read Dr. Ian Hancock’s “Gypsy Mafia, Romani Saints: The Racial Profiling of Romani Americans” for class, in which he examines connections between pop culture representations of “Gypsies” and the US Law Enforcement’s unconstitutional practice of racial profiling.

In class today, we also watched the trailer to Jackson Katz’s documentary Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity in which he examines the correlation a culture of violence and ‘macho’ masculinity and pop culture artifacts that reflect that culture.

For your blog this week, you will select a scene from a film that depicts Romani men as violent and/or criminal stereotypes and use Hancock and Katz to analyze in 300 words. Come up with a thesis statement that poses an argument about the function of the Romani characters in that clip and use specific examples from the primary source (the clip) to analyze and use the secondary sources (Katz and Hancock) to support your thesis. First you’ll need to decide whether the characters are necessarily Gypsy or incidentally Gypsy (see Hancock’s The Origin and Function of the Gypsy Image in Children’s Literature).

Note* Both of these sources would be appropriate academic sources for your research paper, if relevant. If you want to use the documentary in your paper, make sure you rent, buy, or borrow the whole thing.

Thesis Statement guides:

Both The McGraw-Hill Handbook and The Curious Researcher have excellent sections on writing a thesis statement. You can also check out OWL Purdue’s Thesis statement guide:


Matika Wilbur photographs the disappearing race

Matika Wilbur photographs the disappearing race

A fantastic video of Wilbur’s project to authentically and artfully represent contemporary Native Americans and replace harmful stereotypes with real role models. A good example of how art can be empowering.

Burlesque as empowerment through race and gender performance– Interview in Racialicious

I recommend everyone read this interview, “Race + Burlesque: Dita Von Teese Yellowface” in the ezine Racialicious–the intersection of race and pop culture because it’s a strong example of argument and analysis and will probably be helpful for your research paper. And you should especially read it if you’re working with issues of sexualization, objectification, race performance, exoticism, and empowerment through sexuality. Burlesque dancers Andrea Plaid, The Shanghai Pearl, Chicava HoneyChild, Essence Revealed, and ExHOTic Other analyze Dita Von Teese’s “Opium Dean” burlesque show use literary theorist Edward Said’s Orientalism to argue why it’s problematic for a white woman to wear “yellow face” (depict herself as ‘Asian’) They also argue that performing one’s own ethnicity through burlesque can be empowering and discuss how that idea has shaped their own acts. Although it’s a great example of argument and analysis, it’s a laid-back interview so it would be suitable as an auxiliary source to your 3 academic sources. However, the works they mention, like Edward Said’s Orientalism, would be perfect as one of your academic sources


image source:

Blog 5: Laura Mulvey, the male gaze, and representations of Romani women


Still-shot from Rear Window, analyzed by Mulvey as an example of “the male gaze.”

We’ve been talking a lot about the sexualization of Romani women, and one of the keystones of feminist aesthetics and psychoanalytic feminist film theory is Laura Mulvey’s groundbreaking work “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” For this week’s blog post, your job is to read Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”! Next, select a clip or photo of a sexualized representation of a Romani woman to analyze using Mulvey’s theory. Use specific examples from the clip  or photo to analyze and support your analysis with at least one quote from Mulvey. Cite using MLA format as you would in a research paper. 300 words minimum and shoot for a balance of 30% summary and 70% analysis. Remember to include the photo or clip in your post so everyone can see what you’re working with.

Blog 4: The Function of Romani Characters in film


“In children’s literature, in Britain perhaps even more than in the United States, Romanies turn up with some frequency — never as charac­ters who happen incidentally also to be Gypsies, but because they are Gypsies, and because they serve a specific purpose. This purpose has, broadly speaking, three manifestations: the Gypsy as liar and thief either of property or (especially) of non-Romani children; the Gypsy as witch or caster of spells; and the Gypsy as romantic figure. In order to understand why the Romani should find him or herself in this mainly unflattering role, it is necessary first of all to understand what a Gypsy really is, and what historical circumstances have led to the emergence of so deeply-rooted a fictional image.” –Hancock, “The Origin and Function of the Gypsy Image in Children’s Literature”

For this week’s blog post, read Ian Hancock’s The Origin and Function of the Gypsy Image in Children’s Literature. While the article deals specifically with children’s literature, we will be using his theory of “function” to frame our research paper about the function of Romani characters in film. Once you chose your film, first you need to determine whether or not the Romani characters are “necessarily” Gypsy or “incidentally.” Hancock shows that when a character is “necessarily” Gypsy, his or her role in the narrative fulfills a purpose or function that rests on Gypsy stereotypes. This brings us back to our fiction unit and the complex character stories we wrote–the best way to avoid reductive and/or dehumanizing stereotypes about any group of people is to allow the characters to be complex.


We see “functional” characters of different ethnicities in a lot of different stories, and though women are technically the majority, population-wise, in a patriarchal culture such as ours, women are frequently represented as functional characters as well. In class, we’ve discussed some stereotypes about men and women and the ways that they are limiting. While men are made victims of gender stereotyping by the media, there are dramatically more men represented than women in film, fiction, TV, etc., in general and as central and complex characters. In mainstream media, women and minorities often appear as token characters in an all white, straight male cast, and are often stereotypical.


So for the blog post, in addition to Hancock’s article, watch these videos and take a look at the chart below:

Tokenism, tropes, and the Smurfette Principle

The Bechdel Test

The chart: Women with speaking roles are more likely to be naked?

Chose one question to answer using specific examples and supporting your points with examples from Hancock, the Feminist Frequency videos, and the chart.

1. 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?

2. What are tokensism, the Smurfette Principle, and “necessarily Gypsy characters” (or necessarily male, female, Black, Asian, etc. characters) and why are they especially problematic in children’s literature/films?