It was a byword that slipped into our daily vocabulary. A slur, a mild insult, a term to incite satirical comedy. With their burbery hats, hair extensions, jogging bottoms, tight tops and teenage pregnancies, this cohort of social outcasts were the main winners of the annual ASBO ceremonies. They had funny names like Charmaine and Dave, they didn’t have parties but raves. On benefits, scamming the system, Grandma and Grandpa, Mum and Dad, the brothers, the sisters, and the children they’d already had before GCSE’s, all lived in free housing with the newest collections of CD’s, DVD’s, iPods and iPads, the extravagant things that ‘honest’ middle-class children never had.
Foul mouthed, vulgar, vermin and trash, a drain on our social system like an uncomfortable rash. They deserved to be made a mockery of. Their fake tanned selves discoloured our social image as father spent his days in prison, mum binge drinking, the children in a never-ending Police presence schism. Council House and Vulgar, Council House and Violent, Council House Associated Vermin, a ditch into which all fires went.
However you want to phrase it, I find a slight problem with what it intimates.
Yes, there are problems with our welfare system. Yes, there is corruption in response to Public compassion. Yes, our streets are littered with foul-mouthed youths who are over fertile and under productive. But eliding one’s financial status with their moral compass, one’s ability to work with their levels of violence, is, in and of itself, a serious misdemeanour, class-system misguidance.
To make comedy out of poverty can lead to murky waters. It’s like saying people with HIV all sprung from the book of Leviticus. Circumstances shape people. Characteristics are not limited to Job centre visits.
I am afraid that in our desire to make a quick laugh, we confuse those who belong behind bars for social misconduct, with those who are struggling to overcome their financial demons.