Blog Ten: A Free for All Poem About Some Aspect of Romani Culture

    The term I chose from ROMbase is “Mulo” meaning ghost of the dead.  A Mulo is a ghost that stays in this world because he or she doesn’t like how their loved ones are behaving or they have to settle accounts with someone.  These spirits can appear in the form of humans but also they can appear as animals.  I think the idea of spirits staying in our world and coming back as animals or humans is really cool.  The idea that spirits that have unfinished business and can stay around to try to change what is upsetting them is interesting because it shows how much belief the Romani people put into their faith and how much they fully believe in their religion.  The ROMbase says how much the Romani people respect the dead and the Mulo, which is cool because even after their loved ones die they are always aware of how they may be returning to our world and how they may be effecting our life even after they have died.  I chose to use Mulo for my poem because the idea of some form of an afterlife existing intrigues me.  There are so many possibilities about what could happen to humans after we die and exploring all of those possibilities through the eyes of another culture or religion and seeing what they believe will happen to us after we pass on is thought- provoking.  Being a not very religious person myself, I like to learn about everything other people believe because it opens my eyes to everything that is out there in the world. I also think that when we think about the afterlife and what becomes of us when we are dead, it forces us to forget about all of our materialistic wants and superficial ideas. We are forced to think instead about the legacy that we want to leave behind and about all the things we want to become and the things we want to accomplish in our current life before we die. 


Blog Nine: Romani Proverb Poetry

         The proverbs reflect the Romani worldview in many ways. The first is the meaning of these proverbs. Many different cultures have different proverbs about God, luck, wealth, fate, and other aspects of life. Since most Romani proverbs focus on making your own luck and building a life for yourself, it is clear that the Roma believe it is important to work hard for good things in life. Their proverbs about fate and destiny also give you a sense of their worldview because fate is usually something God. Because the Roma have so many proverbs on fate that means they set a lot of store in their God and believe that there is a higher power pulling the strings every once in a while. Another way the proverbs reflect the Romani worldview is through the literal words used. There are many references to dogs and animals in general which could mean that animals are very important to Roma. The word choice of the proverbs is also very different from American proverbs and other proverbs you may here. The way they chose to depict a specific moral or life lesson in such an intriguing and different way than other cultures might means they are a very creative people. The purpose of the proverbs is to convey a message to the Roma about how to live your life and what life lesson you should learn to get the most out of life.

         I chose the proverb “A dog that wonders will find a bone.” I really love the word “wander” and all the adventure and freedom it implies. While “We Are The Romani People” says that it means “take some initiative” when I first read the proverb I interpreted it to mean that if you wander or travel around enough you will eventually find a place you love, a place to call home. I like the idea that our home could be anywhere out there and that we should go out and discover where it is instead of staying where we feel safe.

Blog Eight: Ekphrastic Poetry– poems inspired by visual art by Romani people

The painting I chose to analyze is Amigo’s Lanyom.  The values in the painting were used to create a darker mood, which is emphasized by the multiple shades of blue Amigo used in the painting. My eyes are immediately drawn to her face and her downcast look, which only adds to the overall sorrowful mood of the painting.  The movement of the painting is created by the heavy brush strokes Amigo used.  My eyes are then guided to her hair and the rest of her body where Amigo incorporated darker shades of blues and greens.  The subjects single strand of hair that is falling in front of her face is where my eyes land last; the definitiveness of it against the bright blue background puts emphasis on her dark hair and darker complexion.  The repeated brush strokes throughout the painting create a choppy look about the painting that really define the contours of her face, body and other details as well as intensify the continued feeling of sadness or brokenness.  The girl herself was not given much detail.  This could represent how the Romani people feel they are just blurred together in society’s eyes.  They aren’t seen as individuals by the government, only a group of people that they can oppress.  This girl is the very embodiment of that oppression.  Also, the way her chest and rest of her body seem to fade into nothing represents the way the Romani people have faded into the background of society because non-Romani people don’t really know much about their people and their culture.  The overall image is one of a girl who is clearly sad and has been broken down over time.  Everything about her looks weak and defeated.  It feels as though she has given upon her situation and her life.

Blog Seven: Ars Poetica

The poem I chose to analyze is Son of the Wind, by Alexian Santino Spinelli.  In the poem, the narrator originally spent a lot of time traveling and felt in touch with nature and everything that the earth had to offer him.  When he lived in his tent in the woods was where he felt free and most at home.  Then he moved into a house and he felt trapped by the roof and walls, like he was in a prison. He talks about a dream where he can’t claim any land as his own.

The birds in the poem have a significant metaphorical meaning because generally birds are associated with freedom but as the poem continues and the narrator feels trapped the bird begins to represent himself.  The bird has no name, it is unknown, its wings are disfigured, and it attempts but fails to fly.  The narrator, after being trapped in the house, feels like he doesn’t know himself and isn’t really himself anymore, so he is disfigured.  He wants to be free and to fly but he can’t because he is trapped in the house.

The horses and birds at the beginning of the poem are given a sense of untamed beauty.  The reader gets a sense that it is because they are wild and free that the horses are so powerful and the songs the birds sing are so sweet.  The reader also gets a sense that the narrator really dislikes being in the house because the poet used words like “trap” and “prison” and phrases like “makes me feel small.” 

This is for the most part a sad poem because the narrator can’t live in the place where he loves the most and feels the most free but instead has to live somewhere he feels trapped and in a place that he doesn’t even think he can call his own.

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

Although society today devotes most of its focus to trying to liberate women from the stereotypes they are supposed to fulfill, what few people think about are the stereotypes men have to try to live up to.  Most men live under the impression that to be a “real man” you have to be in control, show no emotions, and be tough.  Jackson Katz calls this the “tough guise.”  He defines the “tough guise” as “hav[ing] to show the world only certain parts of yourself that the dominant culture has define as manly.”  Being defined by this “tough guise” has been hard on men and created a very violent-prone male culture.  Romani people in general are also a group of people who are constantly stereotyped, though they aren’t trying to live up to the stereotype like most men are.  Historically, laws have been set up to specifically prevent Gypsies from being able to live wherever they want in the United States.  Police officers are illegally racially profiling Gypsies and fining and putting people in jail just because they are Gypsies.  One law in particular that Ian Hancock mentions in his article Gypsy Mafia, Romani Saints: The Racial Profiling of Romani Americans stated that “any Gypsies who insists on being what he was born – a Gypsy – without a license, is liable to up to $100 fine and 30 days in jail (Smart, 1969).”  For anyone to be penalized for being who they were born to be, which is something that people in general can’t help, is just ridiculous. Nobody can decide who they are going to be born to be.  If you say one group of people have to have a license to live in any state then everyone should have to have the same license.

Specifically, Romani men are stereotyped to be violent, thieving people that the non-Romani people need to be cautious of.  In the movie Snatch, Brad Pitt depicts an Irish-Romani character that is recruited into boxing because he is a good fighter. He is such a good fighter that he has to ability to, whenever he wants, knock out another fighter in one punch.  Because he is Romani he is also supposed to be a good fighter.  In the clip, Pitt takes a beating through out the entire fight because he is supposed to be throwing the match and losing.  By the end of the clip there is blood gushing from his face and he is very disoriented but he still manages to find the strength in him to rebel and knock the other fighter out with one hit.

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

           Esmeralda is a popular Romani character and is the only Romani represented in Disney films.  In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda is continuously sexualized throughout the movie and is subjected to what Laura Mulvey refers to as “the male gaze” multiple times.  The male gaze is the way the male character looks at the female characters in the film and projects his fantasy of her onto the audience.  This way the audience can experience scopophilia, the pleasure of looking on.  The picture I chose from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is of a moment during Esmeralda’s dance when the minister says ”Look at that disgusting display” and the soldier says “yes, sir!”  During this scene men are ogling her from all angles and even the soldiers and men of power can’t help but look and get enjoyment out of it.  The male gaze is used here as we see all the men in the town staring with wide eyes and mouths open at the girl dancing.  The audience, through the use of the male gaze, looks on at the spectacle and sees how the men sexualize Esmeralda.  Mulvey says, “women displayed as sexual object is the leit-motif of erotic spectacle…she holds the look, plays to and signifies the male desire” (Mulvey, 837).  The point of this scene is only to play into the male desire and for Esmeralda to represent what all men want.  Mulvey goes on to say that “the presence of the woman is an indispensable element of spectacle in normal narrative film, yet her visual presence tends to work against the development of the story line, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation” (MUlvey, 837).  This is exactly what happens during Esmeralda’s dance.  The sence has no relevance to the plot line and it “freezes the flow of action” by having everyone stop what they’re doing just to watch her.

Works Cited:

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” (1973): 833,834-844

Blog Four: The Function of Romani Characters in Film

Industry inequality and gender bias in awards is a current problem in the film industry.  This problem has led to a poor portrayal of women in films. Men have dominated the film industry for years, creating stories that center around men as main characters and have other men as supporting roles to help or hinder then main character from achieving his end goal.  Women on the other hand are only presented in films as a pretty face or have roles that are significantly less important than that of the men in the film.  Because of this industry inequality the Bechdel Test was created.  What the Bechdel Test does for films is make sure there are at least two main women characters who talk to each other about something other than men.  Ideally, if a film passes the test the portrayal of women in the film is significant enough.  Sadly, this does not always work.  As it was made apparent by the feminist frequency videos, some films that pass the Bachdel Test do so only marginally and only because two women characters talk for a line or two.  But for the most part, the Bachdel Test is a useful tool to gauge how women are represented in films.  This tool can also be applied to other groups of people like the Romani.  If you keep the principles of the Bachdel Test but change two women characters to two Romani characters who talk about something other than a majority group like white people, the test can work to gauge Romani representation in film.