May 17, 2007
Kassandra and the perception of Gypsies (Roma) in Serbia
The gypsies (Roma)
have been the victims of racism and segregation throughout Europe. Serbia is no exception. Nataša Simeunović, a graduate student here at Belgrade University, analyzed the media representation of Roma and found that they are depicted as uneducated, beggars, dirty and animals. These representations perpetuate racist attitudes towards the Roma people. Nataša, who is also a secondary school teacher, told me that her students, whose ages range between 15 and 18 years old, hold negative attitudes towards the Roma, who they consider almost subhuman.
At the same time, Nataša told me that during the time in which extremely successful telenovela Kassandra aired here, attitudes toward gypsies improved markedly since Kassandra was a Roma herself.
Once again, and despite the many years I've been observing how telenovela content influences the social formation, I'm fascinated with my conversation with Nataša. I know that telenovelas are a business. But, I would really like that all who write, produce and direct them would understand that telenovelas are much more than just a business.