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Chavs, Neds, Townies, Kevs, Charvers, Steeks, Spides, Bazzas, Yarcos, Ratboys, Kappa Slappers, Skangers, Janners, Stigs, Scallies
February 20, 2004 3:52 AM   Subscribe

ChavScum "A humorous guide to Britain's burgeoning peasant underclass" is a website devoted to a particular "style" of a section of british society (similar to the US "Trailer Trash"). Some of the discussions in the forums vary from the hilarious to the deeply offensive. Meanwhile the Independent ask is chavspotting just harmless fun or a sinister new form of snobbery?
posted by brettski (43 comments total)

 
I'm glad people are beginning to pick up on this. They're called neds round our way, and I think bashing them has reached an all-time high. I live surrounded with them, and they seem like decent enough people; as decent as any other type of person, anyway.

There's definitely a certain amount of fear that educated, middle class people have when confronted with them - not least because they may well have had hassle from them in the past, or been bullied by them at school. Perhaps the fear goes both ways; regardless, ChavScum smacks of educated people ripping the piss out of people who weren't as lucky. Tasteless.
posted by bwerdmuller at 4:12 AM on February 20, 2004


I wasn't sure about the PC-ness of this when I first saw it, but it is loved by just about all. I am not really on speaking terms with any chavvers at the moment, but from my experience I would be suprised if indignation or emotional torment were the first reactions. Everyone assumes it is not talking about them, but they know someone like it.
I have certainly found more of this sort of snobbery in upper-working class environments than educated environments.
You could do the same thing for post-graduate trend sheep quite easily. In fact, looking at any 'lifestyle' magazine you will see ironic-eighties-haircut-wearing Nathan Barley faux-rock bandwagon jumpers gawping at you. They need little assistance in making themselves look idiotic.
posted by asok at 4:28 AM on February 20, 2004


You could do the same thing for post-graduate trend sheep quite easily

Well, yes, but that just demonstrates that every social group needs its whipping boy whether it be hillbillies, liberals, frat-boys, bogans, ferals, SUV drivers, hippies, scallies, soccer mums, trailer-trash, trustifarians, pikeys, university students or fundamentalist christians.

It's not a 'sinister new form of snobbery', it's just the same snobbery that has always flowed freely across class divides (and in both directions).

One thing that I find curious about the (previously on Meta) ned or chav phenomenon is that both the British and Australian varieties (and curiously, I'm unaware of an Australian slang term for them) seem to have adopted a variety of American clothing and musical styles, although there doesn't appear to be a direct US equivalent.

Or is there?
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:10 AM on February 20, 2004


Chavs and their love of estuary english, be still my beating (bleeding?) heart. It now seems de rigeur; from bournemouth to borehamwood to adopt the kind of parochial accent that any true eastender would recognise. It seems that the sounds of bow bells have extended their range to cover the whole of south east england. Naturally the coarser you sound the better.

There's definitely a certain amount of fear that educated, middle class people have when confronted with them - not least because they may well have had hassle from them in the past

I suppose it is just mere coincidence that any of the nastier, violent, football teams that I have ever played against seem to collectively revel in their 'chavness'. Certainly in any of the pubs that I have ever been too it happens to be a mere coincidence that the threat of violence seems to hang over groups of chavs. Then when suitably alcohol fuelled spill out onto the streets to beat seven shades of shit out of themselves and anyone who happened to accidentally make eye contact. This is not snobbery, if you think it is drop into any local pub near where I live, explain how you empathise with them, how it is unjustifiable for people not to tolerate them and they will thank you by giving you a good filling in.
posted by johnnyboy at 5:19 AM on February 20, 2004


Not heard them called chavscum, we always used to call them estate scum. The thing is its so easy to spot them, I work on a university campus right next to an estate and often gangs of burberry clad fuckwits will come on to campus, are immediately spotted by security, and then wonder how they get caught. They really do seem to think that hiding behind their caps will make them impossible to spot.

I'm not convinced the largely middle-class students we get here have a particular dislike for them, though likely some fear. I wonder whether there is something in the comment about it being other working class types who really don't like them. I have quite a few friends in academia but its those of us who came from working class backgrounds that have a real dislike for them. With regard to the tribalism, I have to agree with johnnyboy, there are other social groups that can be annoying (braying public schoolgirl undergrads are high on my list) but they also tend to be generally pleasant and won't try and glass you because they don't like the way you weren't looking at them on the bus.

I do think its interesting how these dog-ends have adopted burberry though, how long can the brand be both upmarket and downmarket?

The urban dictionary sees some attempts to define scally, chav, and kev
posted by biffa at 5:24 AM on February 20, 2004


I'm not convinced the largely middle-class students we get here have a particular dislike for them, though likely some fear. I wonder whether there is something in the comment about it being other working class types who really don't like them.

You may well be onto something there. I can afford to be pretty blase about chavs (as I will continue to call them until some enterprising antipodean wag invents a better term), because I'm lucky enough to live in a chav-free area (in a less-than-palatial rented flat, I hasten to add), but I can imagine developing a deep-seated hatred of them if I lived in a council flat and had to run the gauntlet of ned taunts and physical threats every time I popped down the 7-11 for a curly-wurly.

Nevertheless, I still think the site is a bit of mean-spirited but harmless fun, although many who post on the ChavScum forums disagree. There's some angry, angry people posting to that site. Anyone who thinks that Meta has gone to the dogs really needs to read this.
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:52 AM on February 20, 2004


p.s. being poor is no excuse to act like a prick (excuse the language.)
posted by johnnyboy at 6:06 AM on February 20, 2004


When I went to the "name your baby" section it suggested that I name my hypothetical little girl "Chardonnay Lara Swan".

I'm trying to figure what, if any, is the equivalent term for Noth American Chavs.
posted by orange swan at 6:15 AM on February 20, 2004


It's only over the last few weeks that I started to even considered the issue of whether Chav bashing is, as someone described it, "a new way from the middle class to beat on the working class". For a start that sentence makes the pretty bold assumption that Chavs are working class. The true Chav often doesn't work, and he certainly doesn't have any class. To assume someone is working class because they act and look like a fucking idiot is pretty dumb.
Reason one why people take the piss out of Chavs is that the person is one of two possible types of people, an unemployed thieving piece of shit, or someone who for some inexplicable reason wishes to dress like an unemployed thieving piece of shit and thus associates himself with said demographic group.
Reason two is that they, through the Burberry capped uniform that they wear, represent everything that is unsavoury about the UK. Football violence, crime, laziness, racism, all the things any decent person would wish to see eradicated from their country.
So if you forgive me, I'll save my compassion for those in genuine need of it, rather than the kind of scum that broke into my car the other night.
posted by chill at 6:32 AM on February 20, 2004


or someone who for some inexplicable reason wishes to dress like an unemployed thieving piece of shit and thus associates himself with said demographic group.

- An excellent example of batesian mimicry.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:41 AM on February 20, 2004


So are we saying that the chavs essentially represent an underclass rather than the working class? If so, then that might go some way to explaining the dislike by those in the working class.
posted by biffa at 7:02 AM on February 20, 2004


The point is that these people are not working class. They're dole (welfare)-dependency class. They choose to scrounfe from the state, and then beat up the local asians for "stealing" the jobs that they're too lazy to do.

And round my way, my neighbours hate them. If you and your missus work all day to buy a nice car, and a scumbag nicks it and crashes it while driving pissed (thereby endangering everyone), you don't feel too charitable.
posted by Pericles at 7:11 AM on February 20, 2004


scrounfe = scrounge, sponge, bludge etc (but typed by an eejit)
posted by Pericles at 7:14 AM on February 20, 2004


I'm trying to figure what, if any, is the equivalent term for Noth American Chavs.

Depends on what region or city you live in, and the ethnicity involved. Greaseball, Bubba, etc. The generic term is usually 'white trash.' It seems to be an intra-racial phenomenon (the dislike for these characters) much the same way many working and middle-class blacks will refer to anything cheap and tacky as 'ghetto.'

As far as my opinion on this phenomenon, I'd have to agree with backofyourmind. Sad but true.
posted by jonmc at 7:46 AM on February 20, 2004


what I find funny is that this class seems to identify with mike skinner when at the same time he's sort of speaking out against such stereotypical (esp. the violent) behavior.
posted by dorian at 7:56 AM on February 20, 2004


So I guess this movie I saw on IFC the other night (at least I think that's the channel that showed it) was basically describing a slice of Chav life? The teenaged characters, at least, were of the persuasion.

Can anybody explain where the word "Chav" comes from? The urbandictionary definition does not actually get into the origin of the term.
posted by contessa at 8:38 AM on February 20, 2004


I prefer the term: Burberry Apes
posted by niceness at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2004


Can anybody explain where the word "Chav" comes from? The urbandictionary definition does not actually get into the origin of the term.

If you can bear with all the "subhuman fucktard" definitions, evenutally you come to one that explains that it derives from "Chatham", a city where such people apparently live.
posted by briank at 8:46 AM on February 20, 2004


I assume they don't mean Chatham, Ontario - but damn would that be appropriate. Such a back water.
posted by orange swan at 9:07 AM on February 20, 2004


briank -- thanks for the explaination. You're right, I gave up hope of ever finding out about halfway down (sensing the common theme).

there must be a Chatham in Florida, I'm sure of it now...
posted by contessa at 9:12 AM on February 20, 2004


we used to call them poor people and what fun we had laughing at their poverty, stupidity, terrible clothes and pathetic lives...
posted by johnny novak at 10:07 AM on February 20, 2004


we used to call them poor people and what fun we had laughing at their poverty, stupidity, terrible clothes and pathetic lives...


- No I am afraid you don't understand, you can certainly be poor and not a scally, chav, ned whatever. Poor people tend not to be so endearingly malevolent as chads.
posted by johnnyboy at 10:42 AM on February 20, 2004


er chavs
posted by johnnyboy at 10:49 AM on February 20, 2004


this site is much funnier
posted by dydecker at 10:53 AM on February 20, 2004


You can be rich and a Chav, as Eminem is. Though you'd be right that he has terrible clothes and a pathetic life.
posted by orange swan at 11:03 AM on February 20, 2004


Famous Neds ("un-educated delinquent" I believe is what it means)
posted by stbalbach at 11:25 AM on February 20, 2004


there doesn't appear to be a direct US equivalent

The generic term is usually 'white trash.'


Exactly. Also "trailer trash." Similar fondness for pro-sports jerseys, giant-logoed sportswear, athletic shoes/running shoes/sneakers (a.k.a. "trainers"), Britney/Christinawear for girls, souped-up cars.

Here in Canada, one of the hottest homegrown comedies in recent memory is Trailer Park Boys, which seems to flawlessly straddle the line between laughing with and laughing at Canadian white trash. It also adds a pile of uniquely Canadian (some possibly even uniquely Atlantic Canadian) details to white-trash/chav style: flannel shirts, pompadours and sideburns, rye-and-cokes, a home marjuana grow-op.

When I went to the "name your baby" section it suggested that I name my hypothetical little girl "Chardonnay Lara Swan".

I'm trying to figure what, if any, is the equivalent term for North American Chavs.


A generation ago, it mighta been "Eddie Van Halen Swan." For current trends, perhaps look to the name of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel's kids on The Simpsons: Tiffany, Heather, Cody, Dylan, Dermot, Jordan, Taylor, Brittany, Wesley, Rumer, Scout, Cassidy, Zoe, Chloe, Max, Hunter, Kendal, Kaitlin, Noah, Sasha, Morgan, Kira, Ian, Lauren, Q-bert, Phil.
posted by gompa at 12:25 PM on February 20, 2004


Several of the epithets used to describe "chavs" on that weird website (what is up with the teeny frameset?) have also been used at various times to describe Irish people in the UK, or people of Irish ethnicity.

The British are nothing if not efficient with their stereotyping - reusing jargon is just part ofit.
posted by meehawl at 1:12 PM on February 20, 2004




Can anybody explain where the word "Chav" comes from? The urbandictionary definition does not actually get into the origin of the term.

According to this previously mentioned thread on the chavscum site, 'chav' is a Romany word meaning 'child'. I have no idea whether this is true or not.
posted by chrid at 1:49 PM on February 20, 2004


I so love that hayezsquad site. This page makes me shit myself so hard my head goes through the ceiling.
posted by boneybaloney at 2:36 PM on February 20, 2004


johnnyboy,

are you a Daily Mail reader?
posted by johnny novak at 2:53 PM on February 20, 2004


Sun readers.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:47 PM on February 20, 2004


Several of the epithets used to describe "chavs" on that weird website (what is up with the teeny frameset?) have also been used at various times to describe Irish people in the UK, or people of Irish ethnicity.

Eh? Steek and spide are just local versions of chav.I don't think theres any paddy bashing intended.
posted by Damienmce at 4:15 PM on February 20, 2004


I'm intrigued by the idea that these scumbags are poor; all that Burberry shit they wear certainly doesn't come cheap.

I've spent most all of my life on council estates, both in the West Midlands, and now in London. I am working class, and grew up in a traditional, poor working class family. These people have nothing to do with the working class, or the poor. They fund their crap football casual clothes from minor drug deals, petty theft and car stereos. They deserve nothing but our distain.

Of course, the really interesting question is how this state of affairs came to be in the first place. I remember, during my childhood, the litany of 'scallies' that surrounded us on our estate, but they weren't 'chavs'. They didn't hang around outside chip shops and off licenses, exuding latent violence and gobbing on the floor.
posted by influx at 7:08 AM on February 21, 2004


If by underclass we mean a section of society who are effectively cut off from the mainstream by their inability to hold permanent work due to lack of skills and by lack of access to acquiring skills/social caste they are in, then there is evidence that the existence of the underclass stems from the worldwide application of liberal economics during the 1980's. The issue is one that has also arisen in New Zealand (this link too) and Australia.

There's an interesting paper here but its an academic journal article so I'm not sure who will be able to get in to see it.
posted by biffa at 7:58 AM on February 21, 2004


yes I do actually johnny (I fucking love the daily mail). But on the plus side you will be relieved to know that I have stopped beating my wife.
posted by johnnyboy at 9:01 AM on February 21, 2004


liberal economics during the 1980's

Doesn't exactly wash with respect to the UK. The Thatcher goverment was in power from 1979-1990, and the massive rise in unemployment in that period, especially among industrial workers, contributed heavily to the development of an underclass here.
posted by raygirvan at 11:03 AM on February 21, 2004


This is all wrong.
Pikey is a much better term for them.
posted by hnnrs at 11:06 AM on February 21, 2004


...all that Burberry shit they wear certainly doesn't come cheap.
It's probably bootleg Burberry--here everyone on earth has their scarf and most bought it on the street for 5 bucks.

All those people look like average spring breakers and college kids from here, i think. (altho Sam from Eastenders became a horror show!--ughhh!)
posted by amberglow at 11:13 AM on February 21, 2004


The interesting question is indeed where did they come from and it is easy to blame Thatcherite economic policies of the eighties which decimated entire communities.

It is very easy to sympathise and empathise with the disenfranchised, but none of it answers the question why the miserable specimens exist.

I am working class, from Tyseley in the West Midlands and certainly when I was younger, Chav like behaviour would have been frowned upon, and not tolerated, now in some parts of the country, Chavs are not the underclass, they are the predominant class.

When I was a young man, with unemployment reaching 3 million, it was still considered a bit shameful to be unemployed. If you had no job, or knew someone who had no job, people would enquire solicitously if you had had any luck that week. Now my work takes me into many houses where the adult members, fathers of teenage children have never worked and have never shown any inclination to do so. I dare not ask if they have had any luck finding work as they would take it as an insult.

Walk around the small towns of South Wales and you will see entire town centres taken over by Chav culture, making them extremely unpleasant places to be. I live next to a park, my nippers won't go in it, they barricade themselves in the garden, fearful of the chavs and their pre teen wannabes who make everyones life a misery unless they sport a number one crop, a yankees cap and baggy arsed trackies.

These bastards are not an invisible malnourished and downtrodden underclass. They are all too visible and they glory in their anti social behaviour. We should bring them all the publicity they would wish for and wish them well.
posted by Fat Buddha at 12:56 PM on February 21, 2004


raygirvan, I don't see how my comments don't wash, the rest of your statement agrees totally with what I said. 1979-1990 includes all the the 1980's and is exactly when the tories were bringing their liberal economic policies to bear in the UK.
posted by biffa at 5:23 AM on February 22, 2004


Sorry - I misinterpreted "liberal economic policy". Some sources use it to mean unregulated free-market economy, in which case I agree with you completely; others use it to mean a regulated economy as administered by liberal governments.
posted by raygirvan at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2004


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