Our hometown of Hamilton in New Zealand is known as one of the bogan capitals of the country, and Sam and I happen to be friends with a fairly famous Hamiltonian. His name is Dave and he’s a bogan. More than that, he’s a doctor. He has a PhD in the field of community psychology, and his thesis was on the topic of bogans. Particularly those of the heavy metal persuasion (like myself!). He’s basically one of the coolest academics you will ever meet.
Because Dave is pretty much HBIC, he was asked to be part of a comedy show being filmed for television which celebrates “small town” New Zealand. The producers wanted to film Dave in his natural Friday afternoon/evening environment, so basically, the usual suspects were rounded up, told to do what it is we do on a typical Friday afternoon and put in front of a camera crew for a few hours.
One of those usual suspects was me, and naturally, I got rather enthusiastic about the subject of bogans on Twitter. Following a string of ‘bogan’ related tweets, my friend Brendan told me that he didn’t think I was a bogan, but he admitted it was because he has a stereotype in mind. So, I got to explaining and this is the result.
First of all, it would be wise to ignore any of the definitions featured here. Those ‘definitions’ are derogatory, and mostly Australian. While the word originated from Australia, and we still borrow some of its meaning here, it’s not the same. And just before any Australians have a whinge about us pinching the word and turning it into something to be proud of, you stole Russell Crowe and got all proud about him, so fair’s fair.
Bogan, in Australia, is used to describe someone who is of the lower class. In New Zealand, it’s used to describe someone who is from any class but chooses to live as though they are lower class. We don’t see simply being lower class as a bad thing. There are some negative behaviours that tend to go along with the idea of lower class people, but just like in society, only a small section of bogans engage in those behaviours. An example of this is the fact that bogans are more appreciative the cheaper versions of things. Cheap alcohol, second-hand furniture, clothing that doesn’t cost half a week’s wages…
Speaking of clothing, some people will describe a ‘bogan uniform’ as being a certain way. While a lot of us dress in black band shirts and jeans, there are bogans who dress like professionals. Because they actually ARE professionals. Imagine that! You don’t have to be “out and proud” to be a bogan. It’s more a state of mind, and an interest in heavy metal music and/or cars. It’s not a requirement to like both, but a great deal of bogans do. You can be a bogan if you drive a V8 but only listen to Nickelback. You can also be a bogan if the only thing you know about your car is that it’s green, but SLAAAAAAYER!
Some could argue that bogans are just metalheads or petrolheads, but there’s also an attitude that goes along with being bogan. Bogans are generally laid-back, go with the flow, “shit happens” kind of people. We also don’t really care what others think of us. We do our own thing. Why the fuck else would I have a rainbow-themed blog, and openly admit to loving late 90s boy bands? Not all metalheads or petrolheads are like this and some would even get offended if you referred to them as bogans.
Then there’s the idea that bogans are uneducated. Some are, but some like Dave and Sam have PhDs. Most of the bogans I know have a degree or diploma of some sort, and the conversations that go on at bogan parties can get very intellectual. Political even. We run the gamut of ideologies as well. And religion, well… here’s another little ‘blow your mind’ fact about bogans: we’re not all atheists. A real life example is our friend Anton, who is one of the “double bogans” into both cars and metal mentioned above. He’s Christian… and not just for Census purposes.
It’s hard for some people to see bogans as being anything other than that basic derogatory Australian definition, because well, they are the original bogans… but like I said earlier, we’ve taken the word and given it a slightly different definition and we’re proud of it. It’s a subculture that gives those of us in it a sense of community and belonging, and just like every subculture there are good and bad members. I would be lost without my fellow bogans. They’re all good cunts.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, here’s the clip. Sam and I are relegated to background actors, but I’m still mighty proud to have been a part of this.