Neos Kosmos has been inundated by letters and comments related to the recent news of Nick Giannopoulos and his trademarking of the word ‘wogs’. Here’s what some of our readers thought:
It’s with some surprise that I have followed the ‘recent’ splash made by the ‘revelation’ of the trademarking of the word ‘WOG’ by Nick Giannopoulos.
This information is actually old – Nick himself addressed his trademark in interviews now years’ old, where he confirmed that he trademarked the word/term to prevent it’s misuse (and that he would be willing to allow it’s use for suitable purposes). Of course, no one is naive enough to read or hear that in todays’ world and not presume that there is some monetary benefit he derives from this arrangement, but I do believe the motivation behind the action was genuine and well intentioned. The trademarking was never a secret, and so those who are outraged should do some fact-checking before they attack him.
I’m of a generation of Greek-Cypriot Australian’s who was fortunate enough to have missed the era where ‘wog’ was primarily a dirty, racist word, and aside from barely a handful of isolated incidences where some idiot tried to use my cultural background against me in my formative years, Nick Giannopoulous’ style of ethnic comedy and the similar styles it gave birth to, were my main experience of ‘WOG’. I loved the humour, and I loved the way all our people (Greek and Greek Cypriot) together with our friends (European, Australian, Asian etc.) gathered with pride to watch it. We all knew it was silly, we all knew it was a stereotype, but we owned it and we recognised caricatures of ourselves, our mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles in it. And this comedy that is suddenly being so derided, generated conversations amongst us and in our homes (serious and not so serious) about the experiences of the word WOG, and about who we were, that might not have taken place otherwise.
My own issue is not with the trademark – if it wasn’t Nick Giannopoulos it would have been someone else.
My own issue is not with the trademark – if it wasn’t Nick Giannopoulos it would have been someone else. My issue is with how that trademark is managed. Mr Giannopoulous cannot play God with the use of the word WOG when it resonates with so many other people (and this I believe is the crux of the outrage and the issue the public has with him). He is one man, and his own personal experiences cannot and should not be the platform upon which he decides how others get to use it. If Mr G can demonstrate to us – the other WOGs – that he has mechanisms in place to prevent a monopoly – then I may be satisfied that he really was genuine in his motivation to trademark it. By mechanisms, I envisage a committee of people, an independent body of thinkers, who might manage trademark use requests reasonably and fairly. That’s just my opinion, I’m sure the public might have many other ideas if you put it to them!
To finish, I am not a die-hard Nick Giannopoulous Fan. There are several things that irk me about his work (his representation of Greek/Ethnic women in his body of work is pretty awful if not altogether missing entirely!). But what bothers me about it has never stopped me watching and appreciating what he and his colleagues do, recognising the familiar in it and enjoying it.
To paraphrase what another Neos Kosmos reader/commentator wrote just recently (I’m sorry I don’t recall their name), it is time for our ethnic comedy to mature and move forward, beyond the activity of making fun of a generation of migrants who in truth we all cherish now they are so much older. We have an entirely new wave of migrants who have joined us in recent years, and whole generations of men and women who have been born in Australia who straddle and negotiate the identities of two countries; all of who might appreciate being represented in new ways, in now ways.
We love to champion and celebrate our own, quite rightly. And in truth new generations of performers and writers will do so, whether Nick owns manages, misuses or liberalises the trademark to the word WOG or not. The question is, whether or not Nick Giannopoulous is willing to champion them, when they come to him about using his trademark.
Open letter to Nick Giannopoulos
Dear Nick Giannopoulos,
Most Greek Australians are aware of you as being a trail blazer by making wog comedy hip and likeable thanks to the highly popular and successful stage show Wogs out of Work during the late 1980’s and later the TV hit show Acropolis Now.
Where once we had to endure skips with cliched imitations of us wogs playing characters known as Con with a greasy hair style, a three-day growth, usually fat and of course owning a fruit shop and speaking with an accent that us real Greek Aussies knew just didn’t exist beyond the TV studio, you and your ethnic mates came along and changed that image for ever. That ethnic caricature as portrayed for many years and which had become believable to many Australians was to change thanks to these real wogs who had finally arrived on the scene.
Suddenly we had real wogs taking the mickey out of us wogs, but what was different is that us wogs loved it. Not only was Wogs out of Work imitating many situations we had found ourselves in real life but some of the characters were also realistic and could identify with either ourselves or a close relative. Best of all, those involved in the stage show and TV show were wogs themselves and at last they could get a steady and hopefully consistently paid job.
Better still, us wogs were able to reclaim the word from being a racial slur to a term we were proud to be called, of course, at times it depends on how it is said and by whom, although these days as a derogatory term it’s rarely heard directed at us.
However we now learn Nick that you have trademarked the word ‘wog’ so other comedians can’t use it without paying you for usage. I presume it’s for anyone who uses the word in a comical way or is it a blanket cover that you can’t use the word ‘wog’ if there is a possibility of making some money out of it in some way.
Nick, I hope someone gives you a boot up the khyber. Granted you’re a smart wog by trademarking the word, but sorry Nick you don’t own the word it belongs to all the ethnics who got verbally abused as a wog or bashed for being a wog. I find it insulting that you’ve trademarked the word so you can make money out of it.
Your reputation amongst Greek Australians is in free fall now as we are all appalled you are trying to get rich from a word that has a special place in our psyche.
READ MORE: To be a wog or not to be
You can’t blame a businessman
I have read your article in relation to a comment regarding the trademarking of the word ‘wogs’ by Nick Giannopoulos. Let us also be frank here, Nick is a business man, and like all business men, we work endlessly to protect what we create.
If Nick wants to trademark ‘Wog Boy’, I guess he has the right to do so as he was the first person who invested his time, and his money over the years to expose himself in a society that considered this word an insult.
The word ‘wog’ used to be a bad word in all aspects of life and it was sometimes an insult to us people who had come into this country with so many dreams. In fact the word ‘wog’ was a discrimination against us, our intellect, our proud Greek heritage and our traditional way of life.
There were fights and arguments where the word ‘wog’ was used. Imagine how tough it was for our fathers when this word was used against them as a way to put them down and embarass them and make them felt as though they had no right to be here.
But Nick came along, used his smarts and his funny way to express to people, not through anger but through the use of comedy to make it okay to call someone a ‘wog’. He put his good name and his family name next to a name that was considered an insult, and he has managed to reverse the insult in a manner that made everyone laugh.
I think what Nick did was really amazing as are his talents and his God-given charisma to make people laugh even after they had a bad day. Not many people can do that. He deserves only the best and he deserves our gratitude. And if people must pay to use that Wog Boy Trademark, well, so be it.
Here’s what our readers said on Facebook:
Helen Stavrellis Alexis This is not his word to trademark! He needs to figure out another way to stay relevant and to profit! We were called WOGS back in the 70s way before he utilised the word to profit at the expense of the migrant community!
Mikey Fis One trick pony. Not creative enough so milking the most of it. What a has been malaka one hit wonder.
Nicky Nickolakis I used to call myself a wog when I was living in London and everyone told me it was offensive… So I had to stop myself!
Anna Hathis The word WOGS (plural only) has been trademarked by someone…quite possibly him. It should not have been allowed. In addition, this was a toxic term that was forced upon us and our parents before us by racists and xenophobes. The term belongs to us all. It’s to remind us of the hate we faced and to stop being hating hypocritical racists ourselves! Plenty of Greeks are now as bad as the AUSTRALIAN racists.
Roula Angelopoulos He can’t own it. He can’t patent it. He can however… trademark the word (commercial aspect of branding/marketing his work – eg in a title of a stage production)
Petros Spilios This whole wog thing got boring in the 1980s with Acropolis Now, which didn’t last for long thank God! Till this day I feel sorry for anyone named Effie or Gino!
George Malamas He should trademark THE WANNABES.
Nik Axaris Still living in the 80s his brand of humour is making us a stereotype we have moved on so should he.
Martin Taylor Nik, I would have thought the term to be offensive. Certainly, in the 1970s it was.
Nik Axaris Martin Taylor it still is but symbolically we have owned the term much like the African Americans have owned the N word yet you don’t see them trademarking it.
Konstantinos Kalymnios Great idea. Then the rest of us can get on with the task of being Greek.
Alekos-Alex Kaltsas Let’s not all find excuses on attacking him… Even if he has made a mistake we don’t just bombard him with negative articles and comments I have read everywhere the last two days.
Georgina Boutsini China has bought it…
Σταύρος Συμπονης He is upset because new acts are making money on a word he doesn’t own? C’mon Nick, time to hang up the boots!
Athena Kontrafouris He’s been out of the spotlight for a while. My take… attention seeking!
Lia Tikas How many times can you flog a dead horse. His humour is not something today’s generation can relate to. We’ve moved on, so should he.
Austin Sfirlas “Wog” has nothing to do with being Greek specifically though. He morphed the definition from being a racial slur to describe a way of life. It has nothing to do with ethnicity…Watch the movies again, properly lol
Nikita Kots WANTED: Looking for a Greek who’s willing to defend Giannopoulos… Haven’t found any yet?
James Dandalhs I think for the first time since the battle of Thermopylae, he has united the Greeks!
Anna Boo So no other artist can talk about their experience using that word unless he approves? His humour perpetuates a racist view of Greek Australians. And let’s non-wogs believe we are all Ok with the word wog.
Odysseus Gipalis He has an attitude. This word I first heard it when I started school back in the mid 70s and don’t like it till today. Unfortunately he structured his career on impertinence.
Emmanuel Raviolos You made your millions from it, how about letting someone else have a go. Making enemies for nothing. Not the right way to go about it. Rezili.
Chris Paul Interesting. To be fair to Nick, he (and Effie and Kapiniaris) played a pivotal role aiding the reclamation of the word “wog”, moving it from a derogatory term used to insult people from my grandfather’s and father’s generation, to now being a word I and many others are proud to identify with. He does not own the word “wog”. He himself has recognised this. He has legally trademarked the word. He’s still working and performing using the word “wog” in his shows. If other comedians are using his trademark(ed) word(s) it makes sense how this could cause customer confusion… I’m not saying I agree with him, but it is the law – you can trademark almost anything and it doesn’t have to be new.
Ange Vaggelis Bantis Look at all you Wogs typically and unsurprisingly bagging and wanting blood from one of our own. Hats off to him for thinking of doing this as most of you would of also if you could. That’s what’s burning you.
Κορνηλια Καρρα That’s a bit far fetched to trademark a word like that, maybe he wants to trademark the work Greek as well!