Teenagers post makeup tutorials, cartoon transformations, “comedy” sketches, gaining millions of views. How did a 2000s insult find a second life? It’s about special games.
Someone is having fun
“Yes, I’m pregnant,” the girl says to a friend in a TikTok video that has been viewed more than 2.6 million times. The initiator is trying to hide. Wearing an Adidas top, the heroine covered her eyebrows, purposefully not mixing three shades of bronzer too dark for her. Her friend performed a similar makeup procedure. However, she scraped her hair into a stiff bun.
The clip is titled “Dress for school, school and class.”
Another TikTok is a “pick your character” video. Shows the personification of “Chav”. Like a video game figure bouncing up and down gently. It spins in the selection menu of a young schoolgirl wearing patchy makeup. The following phrases appear next to her: “Wears black air force”, “says bruv & fam”, “say it to my face”, “I know people”, “try to be cool, be late to school every day”.
These videos are just two of the thousands of challenges. Posts are marked with the hashtag #chav.
@mariamraidixThis is for everyone requesting more chav vids 😂😎 ##viral ##foryou ##fu ##4you ##fyp ##trend ##funny♬ original sound – ___.imvu___
The essence of the cartoon
“Chavs” – a special kind of humor. Initially, the cartoons were created to ridicule the British working class. Over time, the definition has changed.
Today, the British call “chavs” white young people living in poor areas. The peculiarity of the characters is the desire to appear better. However, they can be seen by vulgarity (behavior, appearance), ignorance.
@vkanieWe’re getting kicked out 😖 ##chav ##fyp ##feaureme ##foryourpage ##uk ##british♬ Shut you down – _itsbenj_
The etymology of “chav” is unclear. It may come from the gypsy word “chavi”, which means “child”. A more popular (and probably incorrect) theory is that it is an acronym for “Soviet Home and Violence”.
Whatever the origin, the meaning is universal: a stereotype that portrays parts of the British working class as evil, profitable, with no real life ambition.
What is the popularity
The TikTok platform is full of makeup tutorials, cartoon transformations, comedy sketches. What are Loora Wang and sister X. However, the offensive challenge is gaining momentum.
Videos with the hashtag “chav” have been viewed more than 160 million times. There is even a popular dance group with over 450,000 followers called TikTokChavs. The team consists of five boys dressed in Adidas tracksuits, pouffe jackets, dancing to viral songs.
One member of the group recently stated:
“I have to say that none of us are chavs in real life. Everyone has been brought up quite well, but we try not to let the followers know about it. The worse the behavior, the higher the ratings.”
Examples of works and their research
If users didn’t know that the videos were posted recently, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were made in the early 2000s. During the reign of shows such as Little Britain, The Catherine Tate Show. A time when “privately educated, multi-millionaire comedians dressed up as chavs for our amusement on popular sitcoms,” as Owen Jones writes in his book Chavs.
The journalist and activist believes that for some time a form of class hatred has become an integral, respectable part of modern British culture. She was present in newspapers, TV comedy shows, movies, internet forums, social networking sites, everyday conversations.
Incidentally, Catherine Tate will be reprising her role as Lauren’s reunion alongside Little Britain for the BBC’s big night.
But why is the chav cartoon suddenly making a comeback on TikTok, a platform with a predominantly young audience? After talking with several users of the utility, who became famous for scandalous content, it became clear that each of them followed the trend, copied someone else.
Abi is 16 years old. She has over 800,000 followers on TikTok. A few months ago, she created a series about Stacey, Local Chav. In a voice completely different from her character, the blogger said:
“I saw another person do it and I thought it was funny. I decided that I would make one video. It worked out well, so I continued the series.”
Abi thinks Chav is “your stereotypical British girl with big eyebrows who smokes, wears perfume”. According to the blogger, being a chav is “a stage that we all went through [в школе], in the seventh, eighth grades. It is a state of mind, not just an appearance.
@mollymayyxoPOV: dress down day at school n the chavs are in ur class ##foru ##foruyou ##foryoupage ##fyp ##chav ##girls ##pov ##chavygirls♬ original sound – mollymayyxo
Like Abi, Molly Mae believes that being a chav is a personality type. TikToker from Leeds says:
“I think this is exactly the person you really are. For example, if you are someone who has a lot of makeup, is a little rough and so on. Your social position doesn’t matter. It’s just like personality, isn’t it?”
Molly Mae also made a video after seeing someone else doing a caricature.
Since most of the discourse about the smearing of the working class took place in the late 2000s and early 2010s, it is unlikely that today’s teens will grasp the meaning. Although none of the TikTok users we spoke to seemed to know just how historically, politically loaded the term “chav” is.
@miss.layla.bPOV: you’re sitting in front of the chav pt 1##foru ##fyp ##foryourpage ##fy ##chav ##viral ##ukchavs ##britishchav♬ The chav chat – miss.layla .b
Bloggers realized that portraying a character is sometimes problematic. Abi assured:
“I would say it can be quite controversial. Especially because a lot of rich people are very defensive, holding back from commenting. However, most people laugh at it.”
While Mariam, who posted one video, says she went to high school with “a lot of girls who were called ‘chavs’ by the boys.” Classmates tried to copy the same language used by representatives of the verst. The blogger herself uses slang on a regular basis, so imitation was natural for her.
“I just made an exaggerated version of how I speak. Especially in high school.”
Niebel, 20, from Surrey, says “chav” isn’t as offensive as “then”. She said:
“I would never call someone ‘chav’ because obviously it was offensive to them. Now I think it’s a little better. More and more people call themselves “chav”. It’s like a funny joke.”
@amelieob2.0POV: the chav gets her mock results back ##foryoupage ##fyp ##foryou ##trending ##viral ##mocks ##results ##chav ##british ##exams ##jessica♬ original sound – amelieob2 .0
While the videos do not embody the principles of the TikTok community, Faiza Shaheen, director of the KLASS think tank, believes that these kinds of images of a person can have real consequences.
“Often people think they are laughing a little, just joking with someone. This is a deeply political issue. If you look at what happened to the demonization of the working class [середина 2000-х годов], they have been turned into caricatures of people who speak in a certain way. Like they don’t care. People commit petty crimes, have children and unwanted pregnancies.
It was a certain way of portraying working class communities without any strong moral values. But this was followed by a huge reduction in benefits, restrictions on housing benefits. What we call the “pathology bill around the white working class” in particular.
The cartoons were made to provoke the real villains of society. We were told that they are racists, that they create problems for society. Even though people think it’s a bit of a joke, it really isn’t. Perhaps some are too young to remember this.
This narrative of the lower class “chavs” has led to real hardships in terms of low incomes. Whether we like it or not, people love to make fun of others. And especially when you’re younger, you don’t really understand the implications. When there is no police action, then I guess that’s something you can get away with.”
Unlike those who came before them, the TikTok generation can’t afford to make mistakes in front of a small audience – emotionally evolving online. This is another thing they need to learn to navigate. In a few years, some of the teenagers will be dissatisfied with the content they have created. Bloggers will write reflective apologies in the Notes app, remove content from channels, asking for forgiveness from TL.
@rosieaegraham##foryou ##fyp ##foryoupage ##trending ##viral ##chav♬ original sound – rosieaegraham
Clearly, there is a disparity between today’s teenagers and the long history of British classicism that precedes them. But can we really blame them for this? We spend so much time collectively studying the mistakes of individuals instead of asking why and how classism has infiltrated every part of our society. As a result, this particular type of abyss occurred in the first place.
Over the years, talk of class and privilege has become so obscure that some people think that earning £80,000 doesn’t make you rich. It would be unfair to only point the finger at teenagers when most of the adults around them and the institutions they belong to have not understood this either. But not hearing the term “chav” circulating on daytime TV and in the media doesn’t mean the conversations around the class are moving forward.
Even if it’s fun now, ridicule can lead to tragic consequences. So far, the social network TikTok does not block such content. Everyone decides whether to create scandalous cartoons or not.