Bogan Bogan Bogan Bogan Bogan Bogan Bogan (…Books)

From the Department of “Oi bro he called you cheap”/”Cunt’s fucked, hold my goon”


The “only authentically Australian subculture”?



Or perhaps merely a distinction of taste


Bogan is Australian (especially teenage) slang for someone who is not `with it’ in terms of behaviour and appearance, someone who is ‘not us’; hence, someone horrible, contemptible.

Some lexicographers have suspected that the term may derive from the Bogan River and district in western New South Wales, but this is far from certain, and it seems more likely to be an unrelated coinage.

The term became widespread after it was used in the late 1980s by the fictitious schoolgirl ‘Kylie Mole’ in the television series The Comedy Company.

In the Daily Telegraph (29 November 1988), in an article headed “Same name a real bogan”, a genuine schoolgirl named Kylie Mole “reckons it really sux’ ” [i.e., finds it horrible] to have the same name as the television character.

In Dolly Magazine, October 1988, “The Dictionary According To Kylie [Mole]” has the following Kyliesque definition: bogan “a person that you just don’t bother with. Someone who wears their socks the wrong way or has the same number of holes in both legs of their stockings. A complete loser”.

Judith Clarke, The Heroic Life of Al Capsella (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1988) p. 127: “Beyond these the landscape changed suddenly. It was still flat, and the houses all the same as one another, but they were poorer houses, small shabby fibro ones with their paint all washed away, their scraggly yards full of dust and weeds and rusting pieces of iron. I was nervous; it looked the kind of place where you might find Bogans hanging about, the kind of place you could get bashed up…. Sure enough, in the yard of a house across the street, I saw a gang of Bogans in tight jeans and long checked shirts, mucking about with a big fancy car, vintage model, complete with brass lamps and running-board. I felt sure they’d ripped it off: for one thing, they were taking off the number plates”.

The earliest evidence we have been able to find for the term is in the surfing magazine Tracks September 1985: “So what if I have a mohawk and wear Dr Martens (boots for all you uninformed bogans)?”

I remember being introduced to the term in 1983 (or maybe it was 1984?) — along with ‘nerd’ (see also ‘geek’) and ‘skeg’; a term not included in the ANU’s dicktionary, but loosely synonymous with the N. American term ‘jock’ and (apparently) meaning either ‘surfer’ or ‘skater’ in the Australian context (the latter in my case).

Anyway, David Nichols‘ written a book all about it. I’ll probably even read it too, one day, after discovering it in a (second-hand) bookshop somewhere (Barwon Booksellers/Book Affair/Books By The Bay/Sainsbury’s Books) or other. In the meantime:

The bogan is a myth, according to Melbourne academic Dr David Nichols, who has written a book setting out all his reasons why…

The book is easy to read despite using elements of sociology, cultural studies and suburban and urban theory. Nichols admits it comes from a Marxist viewpoint, ”in a manner of speaking”. The way he sees it, the stereotyping of different kinds of people and places in Australia as ”bogan” is a dangerous reignition of the class war.

I says:

“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

See also : The Antibogan | Things Bogans Like | Books or Bogans?, Tony Martin, The Scrivener’s Fancy, October 21, 2009 | Greg Melleuish, and the rise of the green wowser proves that eating people is wrong …, loon pond, June 17, 2011.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2023 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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