To say that class doesn’t matter in Britain is like saying wine doesn’t matter in France; or whether you’re a man or woman doesn’t matter in Saudi Arabia. – Nick Cohen
When did working class culture become so performative? We see it on Jeremy Kyle, and shows like Little Britain and now we see it at our doorstep. We all remember Vicky Pollard, the infamous character from the BBC show Little Britain. For most of us, Pollard is a prime example of what a “chav” is but behind the humour lies a deeper underlying issue surrounding the insensitivity towards the working class.
Before I delve into discussing this topic further, I must point out that the definition of “Chav” in the Oxford Dictionary is as follows: “A young lower-class person typified by brash and loutish behaviour.”
The social secretaries of the University of Bristol cheerleading team ‘The Bristol Jets’ created an event earlier today for a social they were planning except there was only one problem. The theme was “Chav”. The private event, named “Waddup Chavs” instructed the cheer team to get their “chains, tracksuits, hoop earrings, and trainers on” for a fun night of impersonation. If the insensitive, inappropriate theme of the night wasn’t problematic enough, the description was finished off with the message “c u weds init bruv” which only insinuates that the lower and working class are not intelligent enough to form a basic sentence.
We already know that the University of Bristol can already be an alienating place and hostile environment for students who come from underprivileged backgrounds and seeing events that are themed leading to the demonisation of the working class is disrespectful and uncalled for, it only perpetuates the issue and reinforces the idea that top universities are no place for working class students.
When confronted about the theme of the social, the social secretaries failed to recognise the issue behind the theme and suggested they only change the name of the event to avoid offending anyone. But as we see time and time again privilege sometimes comes hand in hand with bigotry. This constant subtle form of oppression is not funny but insensitive and impolite.
It’s surprising that considering we attend a University in a very liberal and predominantly left-wing city we still see this occur. It’s quite interesting that the same people we see stand for LGBT+, BME and the feminist movement, are the same people that think putting their bling and tracksuits on to mock the working class for their own amusement is acceptable.
What’s even more shocking, what’s even more unnerving, is the academic prowess behind the students creating such events. If academic students at one of the top universities in the UK do not understand why it is inappropriate to mock working class individuals, how can we expect anyone else to realise this? How can we expect to stop this erasure of working class culture?
If you’re at a top university and still think it’s ok to put on a social that mocks working class culture, then get a refund on those tuition fees.