Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Chav aesthetics

An interesting book from the Daily Mail parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts is Bog Standard Britain published in 2008. With wit and panache he lays into the vulgarity, charmlessness, conformity, self-righteousness and idiocy which now characterises much of British society through the pursuit of equality and egalitarianism, carried out through an all pervasive stultifying political correct ideology handed down from on high. It is a book that can be strongly recommended for those jaded by the more unwelcome social changes of recent decades.

One chapter deals with the strange change in appearance that has come over many British men. In Quentin Letts words 'British blokes – and this is a strangely British fashion – have been emerging from barber shops like golf balls'. He is referring to the new army of shaven headed men who ape the Neanderthal appearance and sullen character of the Mitchell brothers in the grotesque BBC soap Eastenders. According to Letts, this pair glory in being 'aggressively ugly, brazen, naked in their nastiness – and Britain has followed suit.' Letts has hit the nail on the head with this description of these repulsive role models to the ubiquitous dumbed down surly chav males, who inhabit every shopping mall and pub in Britain with their air of barely suppressed menace.

Another target which Letts has a deserved pop at is the dominant musical taste of today’s chav youth, namely rap or hip-hop. At its best this 'music' can demonstrate a certain degree of verbal dexterity. But for the most part it is a wholly degenerate form of expression which, because of its origin in black American ghettos, has received little political criticism. Letts focuses on the violence of its lyrics, particularly the contempt shown towards women and homosexuals, and questions why it has had such an easy ride with the liberal political establishment and its self appointed arbiters of popular cultural taste. One of the more commonplace and dispiriting auditory experiences heard on British streets during the summer months is the deadbeat white hoodie youth, stuck in a traffic jam in his clapped out motor, windows fully wound down, with this garbage spewing full blast out of the speakers.

How many in the British working class have moved from seeking self betterment to risking self destruction in little more than a generation, is one of several cultural and social developments explored in Quentin Letts’ amusing yet instructive book.

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