When it comes to greeting cards in the UK, it seems we simply cannot get enough. Last year the market in the UK was valued at a whopping £1.7bn. And with a large majority of those cards being described as ‘vulgar’, we ask: does the rise of the offensive greeting card mean that Brits are becoming more comfortable with swear words? Or are they simply an ugly hangover from the 90’s lads’ mag era where the crude drawings of body parts on cards were considered a bit of harmless ‘banter’, the catch-all word for ‘harmless fun’ whose actions often stray into the murky world of workplace disciplinaries, university expulsions and criminal trials?
Inspired by the ‘On The Offensive’ Guardian article that looked at different people’s opinions on the greeting cards, whether that be linguistically, commercially or culturally, we found these differing opinions:
Back in 2008, Dean Morris was reportedly selling 750,000 cards a year. Dedicated to the card crusade, Morris views his cards as endearing gifts to give to friends: ‘sharing swearwords almost means people think highly of you’.
It would seem that context is everything. If I wanted to give my best friend an offensive card (and who would find it in good humour), then surely there is no harm done? Well, not according to:
The Business Owner
In 2017, customer complaints forced Paperchase to pull some cards from their stores and use ‘rude cards here – you have been warned’ signs, along with ensuring the adult cards were kept out of a child’s eye line.
Andy Medhurst, author of A National Joke: Popular Comedy and English National Identity believes that British humour has always been ‘nasty’. He views the buying of these cards as the enforcement of ‘gang mentalities’, where boundaries are pushed and only two camps can exist: it’s us and them.
So, the next time you go to pick a card, maybe take a second to reflect. What may seem to some as a bit of a laugh on a birthday could come across to others (at best) as embarrassing, (or worse) as reinforcing the same outdated gender stereotypes that were outdated even when Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ was top of the charts.