TV Soap Is Helping to Clean Up Attitudes towards Gypsies; ATHENS

By Becatoros, Elena | The Birmingham Post (England), May 27, 1998 | Go to article overview

TV Soap Is Helping to Clean Up Attitudes towards Gypsies; ATHENS


Becatoros, Elena, The Birmingham Post (England)


Greeks are closely watching the gypsies. And, in a notable shift, it is not out of fear or suspicion.

A frenzy of interest in gypsies, their life and traditions, has been set off by a phenomenally popular TV soap opera that chronicles the love story of an upper-class Greek architect and a young gypsy woman.

Claiming viewing figures of more than 20 per cent of Greece's 10.2million people, Whispers of the Heart has challenged some deeply entrenched stereotypes and prejudices against Greek gypsies.

They have gone from being scorned to celebrated. Television talk shows visit their weddings, magazines explore their customs. Many people in Greece, as in other countries around Europe, have long perceived gypsies as blemishes in the social fabric. They are thought of as petty thieves, beggars and general lawbreakers.

But many gypsies say they have noticed a marked change in attitudes since the soap began in October.

"There is a huge difference in perceptions of us now," said Mr Savas Georgiadis, president of the Macedonian Gypsies Union in northern Greece.

But the show's director, Manouso Manousakis, insisted the story has run its course and will end as scheduled in June.

"The idea was to have a love story with a social kernel to it. A series that had something to say," Manousakis said. "The prejudice against gypsies is still very strong."

Physical violence aimed at the 160,000 to 200,000 gypsies in Greece is rare. …

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