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Will Batchelor: Press snobbery over chavs and have-nots; Joke really is wearing a bit thin now.

Byline: Will Batchelor

FIRST it was funny. Then it got tired. Now it is feeble and irritating and must be killed off.

No, not the Conservative Party. I'm talking about the word 'chav'.

Coined to describe the underachieving, over-scrounging, slack-jawed, bone idle underclass, 'chav-spotting' was a mildly amusing internet joke for about a week. It involved smart-arse students spotting a Burberry-capped moron (not that difficult, as they can usually be found smoking 'jazz cigarettes' outside Magistrates courts) taking his picture and pasting it up on a website. It wasn't that funny, but it was funny enough to browse on a Friday afternoon when the only other option was work.

But in the last year, Chav has turned into a monster.

A newspaper cuttings search throws up more than 400 mentions of chav in the last three months alone. A Coronation Street wedding is headlined 'To Chav 'n' To Hold', a revival of net curtains is described as 'Chav Chic' and one serious, broadsheet newspaper reports on a class system of Lower, Middle and Upper Chavs - the so-called Chavistocracy.

Like calling someone a "plonker' in the 80s, telling them 'You don't wanna do it like that' in the 90s, or ending your sentences with a David Brent-style 'Fact' in recent years, a once funny little gag has been flogged to death. Fact.

In their desperation to crowbar this new word into every article, newspapers now accuse just about everyone of being a chav.

Charlotte Church is a chav because she likes a drink with her mates. Rapper Mike Skinner, aka The Streets, is a chav because he wears a football shirt. David Beckham is a chav because he has tattoos. In other words anyone from outside the establishment who dares to succeed, and actually enjoy their wealth, is a chav.

Never mind the fact that they are gifted and driven people who have worked hard to achieve their success.

It goes without saying that successful Scousers such as Wayne Rooney and Jennifer Ellison are always at the top of any chav list.

I'm not suggesting for one minute that they should be beyond reproach. Of course they can be ridiculed for the daft things they say, do and wear - that's what celebs are for. But blindly labelling them chavs - as journalistic shorthand for 'grew up on a council estate so we can look down on them' - is unfair, boring and lazy. What a load of plonkers


CHAVS: It's just old hat
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 12, 2005
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