The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'julie burchill'


Last night, Murdoch cable channel Sky One aired a programme titled Chavs, a documentary of sorts, written and presented by Julie Burchill, on chav culture. I tuned in to see if it was going to be interesting or insightful, shedding any light on this phenomenon. It turned out to be more an op-ed piece, with Burchill, ever the contrarian, proudly hoisting the Burberry flag, declaring herself to be a chav and accusing those who have a problem with chav to be classist snobs.

Burchill's arguments hinged on one assumption: that chav and working-class culture were synonymous. (A piece of background: Burchill is the most self-announcedly "working class" public figure since Damon Albarn.) By her reasoning, all cultural figures of note from Mozart to the Mods were chavs, and the anti-chav camp only had horsy aristocrats and the likes of Prince Harry among them. Oh, and wearing in-your-face quantities of gold jewellery bought on QVC, drinking cheap lager and smoking like a chimney are just wholesome working-class ways of enjoying life, and those who would begrudge them that are hateful snobs and/or resentful of those who made it without middle-class privilege.

The fatal flaw in Burchill's argument is in the definitions; she plays fast-and-loose with what she means by "chav", switching between it meaning any happily working-class person at any time in history and the loutish subculture it commonly denotes. She also whitewashes the meaning to fit her argument, not mentioning the pseudo-criminal posturing (i.e., the combination of baseball caps and hooded tops, initially worn by muggers to avoid identification by CCTV cameras, now part of inner-city youth uniform) that's part of chav (or, indeed, the recent finding that 1 in 4 teenage boys is a serious or habitual offender), and sweeping things like drunken violence and football hooliganism under the carpet. It's not surprising that chav can start to look defensible and even pluckily admirable when you airbrush out all the negative parts of it.

Chavs was more of a snappily-edited tabloid opinion piece than anything else, and was also light on analysis, preferring to stick to simple assertions and soundbites. For example, while it asserted that the Mods of the 1960s were chavs (that is, if one ignores the difference between sharply-tailored suits and tracksuit pants), it failed to point out the one deeper connection between the two movements, i.e., that both appropriated (images of) black American culture (the Mods with soul and the "White Negro" ideal, and the chavs with their adoption of bling-bling and thug posturing from commercial gangsta rap).

It was also interesting to note that The Sun now has a "Chav and Proud" logo on its pages. It looks like the anti-anti-chav-backlash-backlash is beginning.

chavs julie burchill lowbrow murdoch populism tv 0


Julie Burchill turns her guns on Madonna's latest album and image-change.

And this is the nub of my argument, the glitch in the seamless, shameless Madonna machine that just won't go away: for all her talk of discipline and dedication, has there ever been a professional singer, with two decades behind her, whose voice has shown not just no improvement, but a decline? Wouldn't the reputed four hours a day spent putting her ankles behind her head be better used practising her scales? And how much disrespect does this show to those who buy her records? Considering how little effort Madonna has put into the very thing she became famous for, her fabled knack for "reinvention" starts to look less like the clever cherry on the cake and more like desperate smoke-and-mirror decoys from her total lack of talent.

celebrity julie burchill madonna music 1


Julie Burchill on fashions in naming:

Just think, in about 30 years there will be a generation of old biddies called Julie, Debbie, Sharon and Tracey... And old men called Wayne and Dwayne and Jason. Will their way of being old be different from the softly-spoken, stoic way today's Arthurs and Ethels do it? When we're gone, the mumbling, grumbling legions of arthritic Jades, Sades, Ryans and Finlays will take our place in the permanent dusk of the doctor's surgery, dirty-dancing feet finally immobilised by corns and bunions. That just shouldn't happen to a Kylie!
In America, Emma, Sophie and Kate are old ladies' names, while over here they immediately conjure up a hip Brit-babe, especially the latter - Kate Moss-Winslet-Beckinsale-Groombridge-Lawler. The US has its own knee-jerk hottie-handles - a 1980s pop-psychology bestseller was actually called The Jennifer Syndrome, and warned smug wives that females answering to this soft, sexy, elegant, old English name were the ones most likely to steal hubby from them. Twenty years later, little has changed...
Mary and John, once the British first-name equivalents of Smith and Jones, are rarely bestowed these days - you get the feeling that new parents now think of them as the next stage up from calling one's children One and Two...

culture fashion julie burchill names 0


Julie Burchill presents a leftist argument for invading Iraq in the Guardian.

5) "Ooo, your friends smell!" Well, so do yours. We may be saddled with Bush and Blair, but you've got Prince Charles (a big friend of the Islamic world, probably because of its large number of feudal kingdoms and hardline attitude to uppity women), the Catholic church (taking a brief break from buggering babies to condemn any western attack as "morally unacceptable") and posturing pansies such as Sean Penn, Sheryl Crow and Damon Albarn.

contrarianism iraq julie burchill 1


According to media curmudgeon Julie Burchill, two figures dominated 2001: Osama Bin Laden and Kylie Minogue.

2001 celebrity julie burchill kylie minogue osama bin laden 0


Professional curmudgeon Julie Burchill on John Lennon, on the anniversary of his death and the resulting outpouring of sentiment. (via Pearls)

contrarianism john lennon julie burchill 0

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