LAD culture: what’s behind it?

Lads - konstantynovNow when we hear the words ‘lad’ and ‘banter’ we think of: drinking, immaturity, crudeness, womanising and downright daft antics. By and large there’s nothing wrong with these things in moderation and they all have their place, however, sometimes the desire to seem like a ‘LAD’ can make these things get out of hand.

Dares for ‘LAD points’ have seen people end up in hospital; today I noticed this article about teenagers being hospitalised after taking part in the cinnamon challenge. For those unfamiliar with the challenge, it’s where a spoonful of the spice is ingested without any fluids, triggering the gag reflex resulting in coughing and spluttering.

Other more sinister dares or challenges are also becoming increasingly popular and often have a misogynistic undertone to them. Games like pull a minger/pig and rodeo show the ugly side to today’s male youth.

But where did this all come from? Something must have happened to cause this behaviour shift, right?

I believe part of the answer lies with more relatable role models that have emerged in recent years. People perceived as ‘real’ who are put in the spotlight on shows such as The Only Way Is Essex and Geordie Shore who, in their heavily engineered televised lives drink a lot, have a new girl every week and don’t have to suffer any real consequences. These are people who look like us, talk like us, go to the places we go and are on in primetime television slots where the largest possible audience can see their antics. They also have a massive sphere of influence; Mario Falcone has 903,123 followers on Twitter at this time – Gaz Beadle has 1,267,710. Both are famous for not being able to commit to relationships and both have acted aggressively as well, yet they’re hailed as heroes to some young guys.

Gaz, 25, has previously sparked controversy on Twitter by starting the trend #bedofshame which encouraged his male followers to post pictures of their sleeping female partners on the social networking site. The incident was branded by women as ‘disgusting’ and ‘sickening’ but as ‘banter’ by men. Gaz issued an apology for this and fortunately it didn’t get too out of hand, otherwise he may have been in some serious hot water.

Other, more traditional role models are possibly also to blame. Footballers and pop stars are in the news for having affairs and going on all night benders now more than ever and high-profile offenders such as John Terry and Wayne Rooney who are watched by people of all ages should arguably conduct themselves with more decorum. Harry Styles of One Direction is also a famous womaniser and while it’s nothing new that the rich and famous often live frivolously and sometimes recklessly, the media scrutiny today is at a higher level than it has ever been.

Additionally, the popularity of websites such as truelad.com, theladbible.com and unilad.com have allowed people to anonymously post, share and view ‘banter’ and ‘lad’ experiences which have become more and more popular and commonplace. This has fuelled the fire of lad culture and made it into a way of life for some people. Like most things, it is fine in moderation and not taken too far, but there is another side to being a ‘lad’ which isn’t all fun and games for everyone like it was originally supposed to be.

LAD culture isn’t all bad and can even be entertaining when it’s light-hearted and not too extreme, but, like a lot of things, it can be taken out of control by a few. There’s no one reason why it’s taken off, but I believe the factors I’ve talked about have contributed to it and will continue to do so.

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David Mayers

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