Fear and Loathing from the fearful and the loathsome: the Anti Bogan

Reblogged from Warhol’s Children (Tumblr)

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They let off steam through excessive cursing, slurping, burping and by rocking burnouts in quaint suburban streets. They sport wife-beaters and mullets that quiver in the wind and are often sited in remote RSLs and Red Rooster car parks inhaling cans of cheap piss while practicing the art of circulatory breathing through the rollies wedged in the corners of their mouths. They have limited lexicons that hint at illiteracy and speak in amplified high-pitched accents. Bogans…

It’s an age-old label that we throw around loosely and condescendingly at times of pity, like at social gatherings when a friend spills a drink down their shirt, or when someone finishes a sentence with that superfluous “ay”. It’s a gratifying term that endows a sense of superiority so we love it. However the stereotype like the aforementioned no longer withstands. No longer is the bogan a harmless caricature on TV in the form of Poida or Kath & Kim. The bogan has changed- and proliferated- and we can no longer be so naïve and parochial of their chemistry, especially as we may very well be sidling up next to them in a nice restaurant at some point in the near future.

They’ve foisted themselves on us, leaving us no choice but to assimilate and tolerate their uncouth tongues and often-myopic views. They’re showing up in areas previously alien to them, on stockbroking floors and in North Shore homes, “conforming as furiously, and conspicuously, as possible” (thingsboganslike.com).

The Anti-Bogan (TAB), an online watchdog for bogans, is well aware of the bogan’s ever-changing persona. “The bogan with money. The bogan with aspirations,” (thingsboganslike.com) and unfortunately the bogan with a political conscience. Amy and Ed from TAB view the bogan as a person “who encapsulates all or many of the negative Australian stereotypes”; in short: drunks, racists, homophobes, sexists, bigots, anti-intellectuals and slaves to sensationalist media who are incapable of establishing their own opinions based on fact and rationality. They created TAB “in a frustrated response to the refusal of social networking websites to censor or remove shockingly derogatory comments and pictures that were… “generally discriminatory to minorities”.

They explained that, “if people were so hell-bent on publishing their hatred [publicly], we felt that they deserved to have their freedom of speech acknowledged by re-publishing the things they’d say.
“We believe completely and utterly that we are entitled to our own freedom of expression – the freedom to denounce and vehemently oppose the kind of discrimination that we have to wade through, day after day”.

This overt naming and shaming, however, sparked a “violent and extremist” backlash from the very people they sought to reprimand. “Dead rodents and threatening letters were left in mailboxes, cars and front doors were vandalized [and] girlfriends and daughters were threatened,” they said.

This forced the site to operate anonymously thereon in and drove away several of its founders. The new anonymity caused a stir among some of its users, with a portion labelling TAB team as hypocritical and cowardly. Amy and Ed don’t deny this. “We are cowardly, there’s no denying it… because the kind of people who feature at our site are never rational enough to take responsibility for what they’ve [said], rather they feel it completely reasonable to threaten to kill women, stalk and harass and cause property damage”.

The types of people that TAB vehemently opposes and unveils to a wider audience include those such as Michael Zoolanda Zuidland whose Facebook status update said: “About to punch the fuck out of My taxi driver! I said the eastern freeway not the monash you dumb curry munching anal raping jihad praising dick cheese!” Or Greg Jessop, whose Twitter message to the Australian comedian Corinne Grant read: “wow, you are a pig of a woman, aren’t you? I hope you get raped by some black folk, see how tolerant you are then”. Predictably the site’s comment sections are more akin to a political colosseum than a place of equanimous debate, with remarks like “the latte-sipping Left” and “racist Right-wing wankers” being tossed around freely among a pool of less than impressive profanity.

Nevertheless if you filter through the swathes of grammatical nitpicking and trite political name-calling there are flickers of sound political debate, and anything that encourages the Australian people to mull over the pressing issues of our times is a positive. Although some of the subjects featured on the site do toe the line between blatant discrimination and just poor moral taste, TAB does hold mostly reactionary and hate-mongering citizens accountable, in much the same way as journalists hold politicians accountable, and along the way finds a common denominator between issues as vast as xenophobia and the asylum seeker quandary: the bogan.

END

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