Friday, 22 February 2013

The rise of the LAD.

Romantic Ireland's dead and gone
It's with O'Leary in the grave
W.B Yeats

He was a sagacious ol' soul was good ol' Billy Butler Yeats. He wrote that very line 100 years ago this year. He was cultured, he was curious and he was astute. He was everything that a LAD is not. He is the antithesis of everything LADs stand for. 

In fact, were Yeats to stroll down Grafton Street in February 2013 and were he to encounter a group of LADs, they'd more than likely deride his iconic spectacles than actually recognise him.

Ah, LADs. You may be wondering to whom I am referring to when I write LADs (You may also be wondering why I insist on typing LAD in all caps - well, you can't fully convey their overt pseudo-masuclinity with just "lad".). Am I writing about every heterosexual male? Nope. Every male under the age of 25? Nah. Every male who enjoys sports? Crumbs, no.

I am referring to the new type of adolescent male that exists today. I am talking about the default setting for so many males between 16 and 25 today. It is a new-ish strain of masculinity. It is brash, it is abrasive and Jesus Christ it is actually contagious. If you are a college student or someone who encounters students on a regular basis you should know what I mean when I type LAD.

Indeed, it ain't very difficult to spot a LAD. They're rarely quiet and they're rarely inconspicuous. They stay in herds too. LADs on their own are surprisingly manageable and even affable - it's when they're in their herd they feel the need to act lie absolute fucking imbeciles.

In case you have trouble recognising them (you shouldn't) here's a handy list of LAD characteristics (Or LADeristics, if you must) that you can cut out and keep so you know when you're in the vicinity of a LAD.

  • They're the type of people who piss on your doorstep and knock over your bins for comic effect. 
  • They're the type of people who start those incongruous chants inside and outside nightclubs. 
  • They're the type of people who go to Santa Ponsa or Magaluf on holidays. I would rather consume my own feces before subjecting to myself to the horror of Magaluf/Santa Ponsa.
  • They're the type of people who talk about having "BANTER" and have now shorten the term to "BANTS" as BANTER is just something that is so fundamental to their very existence. 
  • They're the type of people who wear Hollister. It is a fucking LAD uniform. 
  • They're type of people who, when asked what type of music they enjoy, reply "Anything, really" - "Anything, really" meaning a narrow selection of chart hits (Note - "Anything really" will be written as "Netin, reli" on LADs' Facebook pages).
  • They're the type of people who LOVE Mumford & Sons and think that Ed Sheeran is lyrically deep.
  • They're the type of people who become bona fide golfing experts whenever a Ryder Cup/US Masters is on but wouldn't know a sand wedge from sandwich every other day of the year.
  • They're the type of people who think scarves are "gay" but wearing body warmers when playing football is perfectly within the realms of their pseudo-masculinity. 
  • They're the type of people who think wearing a shirt is "fancy".
  • They're the type of people who think climbing a couple of lampposts and taking their tops off is "MAYHEM" (I'm looking at you NUI Galway, you absolute plebs. I mean Jesus, I saw the title of that video and thought someone was going to be killed).
  • They're the type of people who will tell you that chick-flicks and rom-coms are "gay as fuck" and in the same conversation will unironically profess their love for Home and Away. 
  • They're the type of people who just LOVE the Fast & Furious film series. 
  • They're the type of people who actually enjoy nightclubs.
  • They're the type of people who had blonde highlights in their hair when they were 12, the "V" haircut when they were 14 and a mullet when they were 16. LADs are just evolved chavs after all.
  • They're the type of people who take time off work/college/school during Cheltenham so they can go fritter their money away on racing beef burgers and lament their monetary losses in a very manly tone the following day.
  • They're the type of people who discovered memes 8 months ago and now find the derogatory replies "Cool story, bro" and "Still a better love story than Twilight" absolutely fucking hilarious. 
  • They're the type of people who pretend to know about farming.
  • They're the type of people who have made facebook "creeping" an art.
  • They're the type of people who love/pretend to love cars.
  • They're the type of people who live for RAG week.
  • They're the type of people who have just discovered Breaking Bad in the last 8 months and insist on informing you of how "unreal" it is.
  • They're the type of people who can express contempt for the British Empire and the Irish language in the same breath, without a hint of irony. 
The LAD culture isn't exactly castigated or censured. Its largely embraced. Such is the sheer volume of LADs that it is difficult to start a movement against them. They have even infiltrated the corridors of power in Ireland (Leo Varadker - huge LAD). Their rise must be admired, in some ways. 

They have a mouthpiece too - a mouthpiece on social media, anyway. UniLad and The Lad Bible (You may be familiar with both) are websites but more popularly Facebook pages which celebrate LAD culture in its most visceral form. They are to LADs what the Little Red Book is to Maoists. Both supply a heady cocktail of bad jokes, overused memes and latent misogyny. 

It's difficult to define what the LAD movement really is though. Is it some post-modern counter-reaction to feminism? Is it the last roar of conventional masculinity? Or has it always existed and will always exist just now, since the advent of the internet, it is much more visible and much, much more annoying? I don't know. I'm tempted to go with the third option as I ain't one for blind nostalgia and would like to think this whole LAD thing isn't a generational problem. It also should be noted that the LAD movement is in no way exclusive to Ireland. UniLad and The Lad Bible are both British creations and their problems with LADs are just as grave as ours. 

By the age of about 25, LADs seem to settle down. Their idiocy is only passing but it leaves its mark. They become well-liked members of society after this and their contribution is valued. A handful fall through the net - which is a real shame as there is nothing worse than a LAD in his 30s - but it's a small enough portion to manage. 

So, LADs. Can't live with them. Can't live withou- Oh, no. I just can't live with them.

*For the purpose of this blog I have consciously adopted a very condescending tone. Please, it is not sincere. It is a "joke" if you must. I am typing this disclaimer so I do not receive incandescently angry hate-mail calling me a snob.

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