In the ongoing cultural appropriation wars we forget that skinheads got a serious raw deal in the 80s. Firstly, the subculture informed in part by Jamaican reggae and ska was infiltrated by Nazi punks who wouldn’t fuck off — and that was only the start of it.
As well as the rise of dodgy oi! punk and skinheads eventually being tarred with the Nazi brush (defo the worst brush), their culture was plundered by Weetabix, who turned their wholegrain sawdust biscuits into little skins, with drainpipe jeans, braces and DMs.
The Weetabix skins – four guys and a girl – were in TV ads from 1982-89, declaring a turf war on “titchy breakfasts” and “breakfasts fit for sparrows”.
Brian, Brains, Dunk, Crunch and Bixie chased vampire hunger pangs, punched holes in boring toast, and did keep fit on kitchen utensil assault courses – all over an infectious knees-up ska soundtrack. Dunk was the de facto leader, who got to say “If you know what’s good for you” in Cockney bovver boy speak, while Brains was basically Ian Dury, Crunch sounded like an East End gangster, Bixie is a Brummie girl for some reason, and Brian is the slapstick dunce of the gang, bumping into things and squawking “OK” like a parrot.
You can follow the emergence of other 80s subcultures in the ads through the decade – from the skins breakdancing to a robo-electro soundtrack, to Licence to Ill Beastie Boys rip-offs, acid house adventures and a turn as A-Team-style breakfast renegades.
I think by this time we’d hit peak skinhead, you would’ve sunk your 18-hole oxbloods into the TV. And it would be nearly 20 years before Shane Meadows made skinheads cool again with This Is England.