Sunday, 12 June 2011

Chav: What's in a word?

Interesting article here which rehearses some of the arguments around how specific terms can embody and reinforce certain prejudices. I personally loathe the use of the word 'chav', seeing it as socially acceptable cover for attacking the working class, no matter what spurious links are made with Burberry, in the same way that 'that's so gay' has become an acceptable form of (unintentional generally) homophobia. Students tend to disagree! See what you make of the following, which gets fairly hard hitting at times, including the use of some strong language:

Debating the word 'chav' is irrelevant to the working-class experience

Extending choice for the poorest will achieve more than defining who they are

Suzanne Moore 4.6.11

    Chavdom is just a smash-and-grab on the "values" on offer. It’s a response to the rich slagging off the poor for being poor'. Photograph: BBC/Tiger Aspect
    Cast your minds back to Tony Blair's great triumph of 2007. He appeared in a sketch for Comic Relief with Catherine Tate, who was playing the stroppy Lauren Cooper. She takes tea in to Blair and starts babbling about Center Parcs and Nike Town. Exasperated, the then prime minister came back with: "Am I bovvered?" What a guy! He could act? Who knew? If only Gordon Brown had been able to do a turn in Gavin & Stacey, maybe things would have been different. Anyway, part of Lauren's diatribe was actually about chavs a

Roseanne on class prejudice of TV

I'll cross-post this on several blogs as it touches on gender, regulation, class prejudice and the general financial machinations of the entertainment business. Assuming you're unaware of what 'Roseanne' is, a few clicks on wikipedia or youtube will swiftly bring you up to speed - it was a hugely successful US sitcome with the USP of centring on a working-class family (with money problems and lousy jobs, not the usual facsimille of working class, or 'labour as Roseanne Barr refers to it, with a tough domestically inept/disinterested woman at the head of the family).
There are very, very few comparisons - aspects of Taxi perhaps, maybe even Married With Children.
Her article, and forthcoming book, reveal just how unprepared the US TV network (whose working practices, being fundamentally driven by financial calculations and audience testing, are not so different to those of the film biz) was to let an unvarnished depiction of working class folk go on, let alone allow a female creative lead the way. Roseanne Barr found that her own creation was credited to an entirely uninvolved male producer, who went on to make her life hell.
There may be a 'PC' moral behind this, but it is a fascinating read from a very un-PC lady.

Roseanne Barr: 'Fame's a bitch. It's hard to handle and drives you nuts'

With a hit TV show, Roseanne Barr could get the best tables in the best restaurants. Never mind about the empty flattery, the nervous breakdowns and the feeling of being used for 10 years. But she's not bitter. Honest
Roseanne Barr 11.6.11
    Roseanne Barr
    'I walked into the producer's office, held up a pair of wardrobe scissors to show her I meant business - "This is no character! This is my show. You watch me. I will win this battle." ' Photograph: Robert Maxwell/Art + Commerce
    During the recent and overly publicised breakdown of Charlie Sheen, I was repeatedly contacted by the media and asked to comment, as it was assumed that I know a thing or two about starring on a sitcom, fighting with producers, nasty divorces, public meltdowns and bombing through a live comedy tour. I have, however, never smoked crack or taken too many drugs, unless you count alcohol as a drug (I don't). But I do know what it's like to be seized by bipolar thoughts that make one spout wise about tiger blood and brag about winning when one is actually losing