Thursday, 10 July 2008

Studying Chavs

Radio 4s ‘Thinking Aloud’ programme had an article a few weeks ago on the sexualisation of chavs, where the fascinated listener could learn all about how the gay English community has fetishised Chavs (too many gay Scottish people are chavs , or neds as we like to call them, to bother fetishising them – especially the ones from Ayr). Gay clubs have regular chav nights, there is Chav porn and a whole host of gay Chav sex phone lines. The idea of anyone paying to hear a nasally accented man saying down a crackly phone line ’Gonnae suck ma boaby big man,’ while fantasising about a red head in a shell suit is an interesting concept to say the least. In the end it boiled down to the long standing middle class fantasy of the sexual nature of the poorer classes. It appears that the higher up the social class ladder you are, the lower your libido.

One of the guests on the programme was an academic from a wonderful place named the Centre for Sexual Dissidence at the University of Sussex in Brighton. It’s not the kind of centre that you could imagine being in Aberdeen. According to its website (and no I don’t know how to do that clever hyperlink thing so until some teaches me, you will have to look it up yourself on google), it “explores sexual dissidence as a diverse site of signification and subjective identification, acknowledging that the social milieus that produce and are shaped by sexual dissidences are just as plural and not confined within national or regional borders alone.” So now you know.

I found all this fascinating but I did wonder why no one had created a Centre for Chavdom. Surely there are more Chavs than sexual dissidents? Where are the studies on their social and cultural significance? Where are the papers written on the symbolism of Special Brew and Buckfast? Who explores their aspirations and fantasies? Do chavs have a secret yearning for Kiera Knightly?

While I am aware that Chavs have in many cases embraced the hip hop of Black America while their northern ned cousins are exclusive fans of extremely fast furious and f**king annoying pseudo-dance music, so far I have only come across one set of Ali G impersonators once on the Bakerloo Line from Kensal Green. The utter whiteness of the boys with their Jafaican accents, too small baseball caps and loud London hip hop played on their mobile phones reminded me of a time I once got on an overnight train a long time ago from Glasgow to London only to be sharing a carriage with a large group of toggled and kilted teenage boy scouts who had a ghetto blaster (ask your Mother, she’ll remember what those things were) playing James Brown’s, ’I’m Black, I’m Proud’ full volume. An American couple looked on in utter astonishment as pasty white face after pasty white face encouraged the red haired freckled owner of the blaster with the words, ”Gonnae turn that up man? I want tae listen tae Jimmy Brown!”

Could Chavs in England as a social group of Caucasians (that what we now have to call white people, just in case you are wondering) actually be undiscovered followers of negritude? Apart from the more obvious embodiments of black culture as witnessed by me on the Jubilee line, I also saw one day two extremely lady like chavs near Mile End with what can only be more examples of negritude. They were both dressed in the necessary shell suits and five or six tiny rings on each hand but one had the colours of the Jamaican flag down each side of her black shell suit while the other one had a white shell suit but was wearing white sling back shoes of the kind favoured by West African women shopping at Petticoat Lane market on a Sunday.

Poor Aimé Césaire never realised that rather than trying to unite disparate black cultures under the one culture and celebrate blackness all he had to do was wait. Sooner or later some white people would come along, unite it and nick it.

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