The picture above is me. And, three years ago, this photo appeared in the Wikipedia article about ‘Chavs’. Here’s a link to the last revision – second photo down. I suppose I’d better explain why the photo came to be, and how it came to be on Wikipedia.
The photo was one of several taken of me, by friends but on my camera, in March 2005 whilst at university. I must stress that, even at the time, this was not how I used to dress normally – this was a fancy dress party where the theme was ‘chavs’. It was in honour of a friend who had recently started teaching in a school in a Yorkshire town, which, at the time, was known for having a population of people you could describe as ‘chavs’ – ‘a young lower-class person who displays brash and loutish behaviour and wears real or imitation designer clothes’, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary.
The clothes were mostly bought cheaply from a charity shop especially for the occasion, and haven’t been worn since – I may have actually thrown them away in a previous house move. I’ve been informed that a real chav would not wear a Puma jacket.
After the event I uploaded the photo (and the one on the right) to Flickr.
So how did it end up on Wikipedia?
I had no part in this, but a Wikipedia user must have found the image, uploaded it to Wikimedia Commons and then added it to the page. Which they would be within their rights to do – the image is licensed under Creative Commons with a license that is compatible with Wikipedia. So I’ve implicitly allowed this to happen.
Whilst the photo is not on that page anymore, and not linked from any other Wikipedia pages, at time of writing that photo is the second result for a Google Image Search for ‘chav’, so it has made it into several derivative works. A friend posted an image that was supposed to be ‘people from Castleford’ containing the photo – I’ve never been there apart from passing through on the train once or twice.
How do you feel about this?
Honestly? I’m generally non-plussed about it. It’s just something that happens on the internet, I suppose. As far as I’m aware nobody has turned it into a meme yet, at least.