Tuesday, 2 December 2014

"Cunt", Australia's favourite word

As your correspondent in Australia, I want to explain its culture and language, and both of these include the word "cunt".

I should warn you - you've read the word "cunt" three times now, and if you're feeling upset or offended you shouldn't carry on reading. Because I'm going to write the word "cunt" a lot of times, and I'm not going to censor any of them. Let's begin!

New Zealand has good cunts...


At a house party in Wellington, 2 months after moving to NZ, a huge guy slapped me on the shoulder and drunkenly called me a "good cunt".

I immediately thought I was in a fight.

Thankfully it turns out "good cunt" in New Zealand is a compliment. A brash, crude, bogan compliment, but still a compliment. Most Kiwis wouldn't use the phrase at all, but everyone's heard it and everyone knows it.

To clarify, calling a stranger "cunt" in New Zealand is still massively offensive - and like in the UK, it's often used between young friends as a jokey insult.

But "good cunt" (or "GC") loosely means a person is reliable, dependable, has a good character, a nice guy, or just simply someone worth knowing.

...Australia just has cunts. Lots of them


Now let's look at Australia, where there's plenty of "cunt"s to go round.

Here's 2 amusing videos, made by Australians about Australia:

Australia in 2 minutes by Neel Kolhatkar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grh0tlJtViw

  • This video manages to offend just about everyone, and Kolhatkar deliberately crosses the line to make racist generalisations
  • However, the video crams in a lot of crude stereotypes in a short time, and they all tell a lot about Australian culture, humour and society
  • The magical line "Give us ya fucking money, cunt" is sometimes used with props (a banana for tropical Queensland, digging up money for mine-riddled Western Australia) - but more effectively, the video just repeats the exact same clip with a different place name each time.
Kolhatkar is not just jokily suggesting most of Australia is thuggish, trashy and wants your money - he's showing how often you might hear the word "cunt" here in the Lucky Cuuuuuuuunt-ry. Which brings us to:

Australia Day - with Ken Oathcarn [RAP NEWS 11] by Juice Media

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRhBRg-XkWY

  • Juice Media's 11th episode of the wonderful "Rap News" very articulately covers the unethical history of Australia's national holiday: Australia Day AKA Invasion Day, which I wrote about here
  • By using stereotypical bogan character Ken Oathcarn, the video enthusiastically throws around "cunt" to ridicule the crude, racist and bigoted parts of Australian society
  • It even opens with a banner saying "Warning - contains Australian language"
  • The video re-works the Team America song "America, Fuck Yeah" as the even more crass "Australia Day, Yeah Cunt!" (full version here) for hilarious and cynical effect:
Australia Day, yeah cunt!
Coming again to celebrate invasion
Australia Day, yeah cunt!
Denial is the only way, cunt
Refugees, you're fucking screwed, if you try to come into
Australia! Yeah cunt! Cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt "Australia Day, Yeah Cunt" by Juice Media/Ken Oathcarn

The word "cunt" is not news in Australia


But how about a third example: Eddie McGuire, owner of Collingwood AFL team and sports/comedy TV presenter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0hhn0TefRo

In April this year, McGuire called AFL player Kane Cornes "cunt" live on TV at 7:30pm. It was a slip, an accident - not that he didn't mean to say it, because it was clearly an affectionate joke - but just that he didn't mean to say it at 7:30pm on national TV.
"Good on you mate, congratulations, go and have a rub, sing your song, enjoy yourself, all those things mate, you might have to have two rubs being an old cunt" Eddie McGuire

You can say it's remarkable that dropping a C-bomb in friendly conversation felt so natural to McGuire, a veteran broadcaster, that he did it on live TV. (And hell, I'm definitely a fan of the unscripted, relaxed nature of Aus/NZ TV interviews and news coverage, which make their UK equivalents seem sanitised, reptilian and pathetic.)

But what's truly telling about Australian society is that it was news for about half a day, then it stopped being news, because the word "cunt" is simply not news in Australia.

I'm trying and failing to imagine a British equivalent - Alex Ferguson maybe, as one of Britain's best-known football managers, or Chris Tarrant, host of UK's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (McGuire hosts the Aus version) - jokingly calling someone a cunt at 7:30pm on live TV without it being a national outrage.

And as you can see, Cornes clearly didn't take offence:


(Kane plays for Port Adelaide, in case you wondered)

Everyone's working class here in Straya


The fact is for young Australians, and male Australians of all ages, "cunt" is simply not the shockingly unsayable swearword that it is in other countries: prudish US, uptight Britain, even hardy New Zealand.

People of all these countries will use it as a genuine trashy insult - the kind of thing you'll hear from angry young men on a Saturday night, where a drunken fight might break out.

But for young Australians, this is a word casually used among friends on a regular basis. And it's used a lot.

It's very much connected with the working class outlook that soaks all Australia's social levels: to call an enemy a cunt is still an insult, but to jokily call your friends this horrible word shows how comfortable you are with each other.

It's also generally a masculine trait - showing how tough you are by using the worst possible word in the English language. But young female Australians use it too, and certainly more than British or Kiwi girls and women, which again reveals something about Australia's culture and (white, colonial) history: brash, tough, no-nonsense.

Some people might doubt "cunt" really is said more in Australia than in the UK or NZ. To be fair, young Brits do love the C word, and say it in a particularly British way. And it's probably hard for some prudish outsiders to tell the difference between NZ (frequent) and Aus (constant) on the cunt scale.

But just hear the regular stories of Aussies landing in London, having a great time with their new friends and workmates at the pub, and then casually calling someone "cunt" - to horrified reactions.

Even in Britain, a C-bomb dropped at the wrong time creates an explosion of silence.

Want more proof? Here's the search results in Youtube for "Australia" and "cunt". Go for gold mate, there's plenty to watch.

Swearwords: Treasure them


I'm a fan of swearing. It's often healthy to swear, and it's unhealthy to deny it happens.

But even I've been surprised by the amount I've heard the C word this year in Australia.

"Cunt" is a beautiful word.

I don't necessarily mean in the noble way feminists are trying to reclaim it - although after all, like many swearwords, its origins are fascinating and hardly dirty or taboo. And I've deliberately avoided discussing the meanings, origins and potential sexism of the word "cunt", because that is a whoooole other massive topic.

I think it's beautiful in its simplicity.

It is small but devastatingly effective. It is crude and yet perfectly formed.

But we are all in danger of overusing it. Aussies are just ahead of the English-speaking world in this cultural trend. The more you hear "cunt", the more ordinary it becomes. And I think both the prudish and the crudish would agree we don't want that to happen. Not too rapidly anyway.

The value of swearwords is in using them rarely, with respect.

And on that note, thanks for reading cunts.



2 comments:

  1. As the great Malcolm Tucker once said... "If some cunt can fuck something up, that cunt will pick the worst possible time to fucking fuck it up cause that cunt's a cunt."

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  2. Holy cunt! What a good cunt of a write up. Good on ya, ya little cunt. Welcome to Straya, where cunts r us.

    ReplyDelete