Uni Lad Culture: A Thousand Monkeys
To me, the experience of encountering ‘Uni Lads’ in day to day life resembles watching a nature documentary, where you curiously observe those cheeky apes that fling their faeces at each other. Now you know that they are generally disgusting, but their behaviour is amusing rather than offensive precisely because they are apes. This is why Unilad ‘magazine’ worries me, not so much because it’s disgustingly misogynistic or upsets a great many people, but because apes aren’t supposed to be able to type…
Everybody understands that the internet gives stupid people a forum to be heard; to those who haven’t experienced the site, UniLad.com is just a sexist example of this. In the past a satirising of rape has been left to the Jimmy Carr’s, where this sort of material is used precisely because it’s provocative, precisely because it pushes what is deemed as socially acceptable; I don’t believe that it was ever meant to become the stuff of cheap mainstream banter or resemble a perverse and immoral knock-knock joke. Beyond this, even the controversial public figures don’t create articles entitled ‘how to survive a one night stand’ or ‘medley of minge’- fantastic use of alliteration there. If you can’t understand why quantifying women via a numerical scale is disgusting, or why rape shouldn’t be a basis for slapstick humour then I would strongly encourage you to stop reading now, because this will be wasted on you.
Now the ‘editor’ of Unilad (‘Alex’) makes the effort to defend the website. He (or she?) says: The site isn’t out to offend, it’s to give them (the lads) a break from the heavy stories in the mainstream news and to have a laugh.” Now I’m assuming that this is a joke; lads engage with the ‘heavy stories’ in the mainstream media!? I doubt many would suggest that Roy Hodgson resembling an owl is really at the pinnacle of journalistic or intellectual thought, and I don’t believe that dialogue between ‘lads’ is often steered towards topics like the budget, Scottish independence, gay marriage or intervention in Mali etc. – If you’ve had an intellectual conversation with a lad or know somebody that has then please write in.
Without wanting to simply bash the character of Unilad with mediocre sarcasm (it doesn’t deserve a lot more) I’d conclude this critique by saying that the site just doesn’t really resemble the work of a particularly savvy group of intellectuals or comedians, more the work of a rabble of middle class white boys who haven’t grasped that going to university doesn’t mean you’re intelligent.
We need to be seriously careful when we ascribe moral authority onto something that really doesn’t deserve it. When did people like John Terry or those who believe that John Terry resembles the ideal man become the moral arbiters of society? Lad culture started as something stupid, it now occupies mainstream space. The amount of time that is devoted to a deconstruction of Unilad.com in an attempt to expose its misogynistic values is staggering; articles from The Guardian, The Independent and The BBC all seeking to illustrate to readers why said values are unacceptable. It’s like looking for hay in a hay stack, in the middle of a field of hay stacks, and then setting it ablaze to show others that there is in fact hay there- misogyny is self-evidently offensive.
Devote your time to demonstrating to the young men susceptible to mediocre online memes that ignorance and immorality have never at any time in human history been seen as positive traits. Unilad is popular because it taps into a misappropriated childlike ideal that insensitivity is a function of masculinity. Unilad isn’t funny if you’re intelligent; this is because intelligence stems from an understanding of the world that engenders emotions like empathy, compassion and respect. Try educating people, teach them how ridiculous their cultish insensitivity is and demonstrate to the women who see and engage with these misogynistic views that behaving like a feckless sex doll is not something to strive for.