Friday, July 20, 2012

Bogan Bashing on TV

I’m quite perplexed by these tv shows. 

Have you seen the tv ad for Big Brother on Channel Nine? The show is positioning itself as an anti-bogan show. The show is going to be hosted by Sonia Kruger. She’s been on tv quite a lot, mostly in designer gowns, as far as I’ve seen, so I’m not pegging her a  natural beauty kind of gal, although it would be hard to tell. Classy? That’s what I’m supposed to think of her. I’m not buying. In the tv ad she’s wearing what looks like vinyl tights. Her hair is dyed. She’s wearing makeup. She’s waxed and  she looks like she works out. Not exactly a freewheeling bohemian type. The distance between her and the bogans who are denied entry is pretty small. Different hairstyle. Different dancestyle. Covering her midriff on this occasion. The difference in style is just a matter of degree.

Channel Nine is the station that airs Two and Half Men, Funniest Home Videos and Underbelly, so it’s hardly the pinnacle of high culture. Hmm. Are they insulting their audience? 

The same with Snog Marry Avoid. The host is disparaging to the over-groomed guests on the show, asking that they tone down their looks to look more like her. But she’s no natural beauty either (well she could be but we’ll never know). Her hair is dyed, she is skinny, wears makeup, wears fashionable clothes, and is meant to be the example of proper, acceptable style. Again, it is just a matter of degree. 

And now, The Shire, which I haven’t seen. Another show in this trend of bogan-bashing.

So, we want women on tv to look good, to be clear about caring about how they look, but to look like they’re not trying too hard. We couldn’t have a plain or unfashionable or overweight or un-groomed (waxed, dyed, buffed, tightened, botoxed) woman on tv. Grooming now is more than just cleaning your teeth and brushing your hair. It’s a commitment that requires time and money. But we don’t want women who are overdone, by certain standards. Even though there are lot of women in our culture who do spend a lot of time on their appearance, even if they don’t need to.

Are we really so smug and self-satisfied that we enjoy making fun of people we consider below us due to their fashion choices? Or is this coming from insecurity? Do we see that we are only one step away from being ’bogans’ ourselves. Nearly everyone can afford new clothes, hair dye, manicures, electronic gadgets, mobile phones, flatscreen tvs and dvd players, and a playstation/ds for their children. People of all classes have tattoos and piercings. It’s getting harder to tell the classes apart. So we need tv for do it for us.

The working class now have access to the goods and services once only available to the middle class, but they’re getting it wrong (by middle class standards), and we’re laughing at them for their aspirations. They’ll never be middle class. Fools for trying. That’s the attitude.

What would be really edgy and interesting would be a show that depicts the people I will no longer refer to as bogans (we used to call them ‘westies’) because that’s what these shows want me to call them, as people who are resourceful and witty, subtle and sophisticated, who have deep relationships, and how working class culture (is that what it is?) is a culture that is valid in its own right. We look at cultures from other countries and communities with respect. We legislate against discrimination on the basis of cultural background, but we currently have no respect for white working class culture. 

What do you think is going on here?

* Written whilst wearing my ugg boots.

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