Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Hooliganism Goes Highbrow

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Hooliganism Goes Highbrow

Article excerpt

Browse through any reputable bookstore in Britain and somewhere between Hare Krishna and hunting you'll likely find Hooligan Lit. A peculiarly British literary genre, Hooligan Lit burst onto the U.K. book scene in the early nineties, with titles like I'll Kick Your Head In and Want Some Aggro?, unsettling a reading public more accustomed to the classics of Austen and Forster and the modern pap that is Nick Hornby. Written by ex-football hooligans (for those who don't know: men who regularly engage in violent behaviour with opposition fans in and around football or "soccer" games), hooligan lit recalls the countless battles on the terraces (i.e. in the stands) between rival gangs of hooligans, known in the parlance as "firms."

Hooliganism's entry into the world of British arts and culture was also marked by a number of documentaries and feature films. The 1988 release The Firm featured respected Shakespearean actor Gary Oldman, while the more recent Green Street Elite starred erstwhile hobbit Elijah Wood. And although yet to find its way onto the shelves of Chapters and Indigo, Hooligan Lit's artistic battering ram into the North American market may well be the wildly successful Bravo television series, The Real Football Factories. Each week the show's host--the star of hooligan film The Football Factory--takes viewers to a new battleground in the global world of football violence, from northwest England to the outskirts of Istanbul.

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Although football hooliganism first appeared in the U.K. in the 1960s, it wasn't until the late seventies and early eighties that the phenomenon became widespread enough to warrant the attention of the British government, media and academics. Three competing explanations for the hooligan phenomenon became popularized:

A) The Conservative: Hooligans are lawless thugs on par with Bolshy shop stewards--further proof of the continuing deterioration of British society. …

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