[Editor’s Note: July 28, 2020]: This opinion piece does not adhere to the guidelines that our newspaper follows today, and should not have been published. The current Nexus editorial staff condemns the racist opinions expressed in this article. However, the fact remains that Nexus staff in 2010 deemed it appropriate to publish, and to remove the article from the website would be to pretend that these biases did not once exist. We caution readers against reading this article. Instead of reading this article below, we encourage Nexus readership to check out this op-ed instead.
It wasn’t until I watched Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” for the first time a few days ago that I realized that — maybe, just maybe — I was a little bit deprived as a child.
At first, I was mad that my mom never let me watch “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” But then I realized that it was probably in my best interest that I’d never seen this movie prior to moving to France. Why? Well, most girls my age claim that all Disney movies gave them unrealistic expectations about love. But for me, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” would have given me unrealistic expectations about gypsies.
Seven months ago, I was entirely unaware of the “Gypsy Epidemic” that plagues both France and the greater European Union. As far as I was concerned, gypsies and hippies were one and the same: psychedelic flower children, likely renamed “Sunshine” or “Willow,” who could “literally feel the grass breathing.” It wasn’t until I had my first gypsy encounter in Paris that I realized gypsies were nothing like the Esmeralda/hippie hybrids I’d imagined in my head.
The European gypsies are in their own sad, toothless league. It was in Paris that this old, raggedy-looking woman approached my friend Chrissy and me in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was nothing like Disney had made it out to be. The gypsy woman wasn’t beautiful like Esmeralda and she wasn’t there to dance for our entertainment. She handed us piece of paper that read: “I’ve got cancer, I’ve lost my husband in a terrible car accident and my daughters are hungry.” World’s saddest story, right? Right.
But the thing with gypsies is that it’s almost impossible to know if they’re lying or just trying to get your attention long enough to pilfer your wallet. Gypsy woman, do you really have cancer? Did your husband really die? Do you even have daughters? Despite my inner queries, it’s always polite to be polite.
You don’t want to be the heartless person who denies the cancer-stricken woman a few centimes to help feed her fatherless daughters, but you also don’t want to be the sucker who falls for the lamest trick in the book. What are you supposed to do when gypsies give you puppy eyes? Sing to you? Show you the world’s smallest, saddest looking baby?
Easy: just (politely) ignore them and walk away. Don’t waste too much time trying to explain why you can’t help them in one way or another. Every minute you fumble for the words in [insert foreign language here] is another minute they’ve spent distracting you, and might be one minute closer to their unlawful ownership of your credit cards and pictures of your dog and Nana. I realize this sounds heartless, but if you’re that person then you’re just asking for it.
Do you understand now why I would’ve never been able to fully enjoy my time abroad if I’d seen “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” before I moved to France? Seeing a gypsy act like a dejected, toothless vagabond would’ve destroyed everything Disney had ever taught me to be true. It would’ve been like finding out that Santa doesn’t exist, you know? Sweet, lovely Esmeralda would’ve never tried to pickpocket you. Seduce you with her belly dancing? Maybe. Fall in love with a disfigured hunchback? Sure. But rob you blind? Never.