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The term bogan (//) is Australian and New Zealand slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for an individual who is recognised to be from an unsophisticated background or someone whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour exemplify a lack of manners and education. Whilst bogan is widely recognised, localised names exist that describe the same or very similar groups of people.
The Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) included the word in its Australian dictionary project in 1991, and said the earliest use they found was in the September 1985 issue of surfing magazine Tracks: "So what if I have a mohawk and wear Dr Martens [Doc Martens] (boots for all you uninformed bogans)?"
Sir Thomas Mitchell (Surveyor General in 1835) drew a sketch entitled, "Talame, a young native of the Bogan tribe" which is in the National Library of Australia
Author Rolf Boldrewood,1888, in "Robbery Under Arms" describes the Lower Bogan: "Two or three weeks after, Starlight and I were taking a ride towards the Bogan Road, .... the Lower Bogan, an out-and-out wild place".
There are places in western New South Wales that contain 'bogan' in their name — for example, Bogan Shire, the Bogan River and the rural village of Bogan Gate — but they are not regarded as the source of the term. The 1902 poem "City of Dreadful Thirst" by Australian poet Banjo Paterson makes reference to a "Bogan shower" as a term meaning "three raindrops and some dust", although this is likely a reference to the dry area around the Bogan River. Also, makeshift gates in a rural fence in north west NSW were known as bogan gates at least as early as the 1960s.
The word Bogan entered the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2012.
According to anecdote, the term emerged in Melbourne's outer-Western and outer-Eastern suburbs in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The equivalent term in Queensland was Bevan and in NSW they were known as Westies (hailing from the western suburbs) however Bogan is now more commonly used Australia-wide.
The term became widely known in the late 1980s when the teenage character Kylie Mole (played by Mary-Anne Fahey) in sketch comedy television series The Comedy Company frequently used the term to disparage anyone she disliked. The same programme included a sketch about a magazine called "Bogue" (a parody of Vogue), which featured traditional bogans. Merrick and Rosso (from Melbourne) also used the term on their Triple-J national radio show.
In the mid 1990s, New Zealand Bogans were stereotypically clothed in all black. Super-taper black jeans were fairly standard and black woollen jersey. Long fringe or long hair in general was usual also.
In 1995, long-standing West Auckland punk band The Warners released their last album entitled Bogans' Heroes on Wildside Records. Australian ska-punk band Area-7 achieved one of their biggest hits with the song "Nobody Likes A Bogan", released in 2002.
The Microsoft Corporation deemed "Bogan" to be one of twenty Australian colloquialisms most relevant to Australian users. Residents of streets such as Bogan Place and Bogan Road have been moved to action by the negative connotations of their street names and lobbied to rename them.
Mel Campbell argued in a 2006 article in the Sydney Morning Herald that bogan (including "cashed-up bogan") is a nebulous, personal concept that is frequently used in a process by which "we use the idea of the bogan to quarantine ideas of Australianness that alarm or discomfort us. It's a way of erecting imaginary cultural barriers between "us" and "them"." Campbell argues that though many people believe they know exactly what a bogan is and what their characteristics might be, there is no defined set of characteristics of a bogan: the speaker imagines the denoted person to be different from, and less cultured than, themselves. Campbell considered "cashed-up bogan" to be a "stupid term". A similar argument is made by David Nichols, author of The Bogan Delusion (2011), who says that people have "created this creature that is a lesser human being to express their interclass hatred". The popular website (and 2010 bestselling book) Things Bogans Like contains 250 articles on various things that bogans are claimed to like, and suggests that a "bogan today defies income, class, race, creed, gender and logic".
Certain types of clothing are stereotypically associated with bogans, including flannelette shirts, monkey hoodies, Stubbies shorts, ugg boots, jeans and black leggings. Vehicles such as the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, particularly modified or poorly maintained examples, also have similar associations.
The term bogan has been employed favourably to indicate being proudly un-fashionable or "rough around the edges". Radio station Triple J held a "National Bogan Day" on 28 June 2002, which they commemorated by playing music by bands such as Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, Rose Tattoo and AC/DC.
"CUB" or "cashed up bogan," was used by one marketing researcher in 2006 to describe people of a blue-collar background now earning a high salary and spending their earnings on expensive consumer items as a matter of conspicuous consumption. The media adduced tennis player Lleyton Hewitt and his actress wife, Bec Cartwright, as examples. Subsequently, the Kaesler Winery, in the Barossa Valley, released a Shiraz wine under the name Bogan.
Although the term 'bogan' is understood across Australia and New Zealand, certain regions have their own slang terms for the same group of people. These terms include:
The term "westie" or "westy" is not synonymous with bogan, although westies are often stereotyped as being bogans. "Westie" seems to predate bogan by some years, and originated in Sydney in the 1970s, to refer to people from that city's western suburbs. As Sydney's western suburbs are predominantly working class blue collar areas, the term connotes a predominantly working class blue collar person - someone with little education, little intelligence, little taste, and very limited horizons. Someone whose idea of a good time is meat pies, beer, cigarettes and playing the poker machines at the local football club. "Westie" is now in wide use in many cities and towns across both Australia and New Zealand, where it especially refers to the denizens of West Auckland. "Bogan" is referred to by Ja'mie in Summer Heights High when she enrolls in a public school and is surprised at the students' lack of education. She calls them "fat ugly Bogans"
Pursuant of brevity, the pejorative term "ebo" (ee-boh) has appropriated "bogan" despite their loose similarity. Ebo, or Ethnic Bogan, refers to members of any ethnic minority that exemplify negative stereotypical archetypes of their ethnicity and its public display. Similar to bogans, these perceived ethnic idiosyncrasies are typically exemplary of an unsophisticated background or lacking in manners and education.