The self-congratulatory first year Arts student loves the idea of Che Guevara. While Artsy generally knows little about Guevara’s murderous ways , it remains thrilled to embrace the stylised logo of this young, attractive rogue who symbolised the liberation of other lefties from things that lefties didn’t like. The bogan, on the other hand, is generally unmoved by Guevara, because he was complicated, eloquent (and generally not in English), and un-Australian. Still, the bogan attempted to co-opt this figure, as it saw so many examples of him on brightly-coloured T-shirts. The disturbing predilection of second and third year Arts students to query bogans on who, exactly, that person was, led them to look closer to home for their icons.
Being itself a resourceful student of history, the bogan settled on Ned Kelly as its countercultural pinup boy. Born into a criminal family in Victoria during the 1850s, young Ned’s first brush with the law came at age 14, when he was arrested for assaulting a Chinese farmer. While the bogan generally does not know anything about Ned Kelly other than the fact that it likes him, the bogan would approve of its precocious hero beating up an ethnic minority before he was even able to grow his beard. The following year, Kelly assaulted a bloke who accused his mate of borrowing his horse. The bogan mentally substitutes “horse” with “HSV”, and approves.
After a prison stint for other HSV related crimes, Ned won a bare-knuckle fistfight, got arrested for public drunkenness, and ran away from the pigs. Approved. More run-ins with the constabulary followed, leading to Kelly shooting three of them in the bush, and robbing some banks. The pigs arrested and held Ned’s mates, to the horror of the bogan. Nothing happened for a year or so, until Ned turned up in Glenrowan, kitted out in his famous iron suit. The bogan mentally substitutes “iron” with “lime green polyester”, and approves. After taking hostages at the pub, Ned’s plan unravelled. The pigs shot Ned in the legs, and his co-conspirators all died. Kelly was hanged in November 1880, although approximately 30,000 of the bogan’s ancestors signed a petition to spare his life. The bogan mentally substitutes “signed a petition” with “joined a facebook group”, and approves.
The bogan’s lack of interest in the details of Kelly’s life and death allows it to project onto Kelly anything that it wants. Unionised bogans have conceptually linked him with the Eureka flag, where a six month old Ned Kelly is understood to have totally killed some pigs on behalf of his comrades. Other bogans see him as a high-minded Robin Hood, despite the fact that Kelly acted almost exclusively in the interest of his own vanity, prosperity, and freedom. Others still see him as a true blue gangsta, yo. The bogan’s deep love of quick and easy part-truths, nurtured by Today Tonight, allows it to live a life free of any hypocrisy at all. Catering to its market, Australia Post released a Ned Kelly postage stamp to mark the centenary of his death back in 1980. The bogan mentally substitutes “postage stamp” with “extreme tattoo on Ben Cousins’ stomach”, and approves.