Grace Dent on TV: Dapper Laughs is unpleasant sexism dressed up as 'banter'

He's that lad in any group of lads you might run into in a bar who takes 'banter' to 'creepily offensive'

From Private Walker in Dad’s Army to Mickey Pearce in Only Fools and  Horses, encompassing Arthur Fonzarelli, Jay from The Inbetweeners, Mark Wright and many more, audiences have habitually been entertained by the “woman-hungry geezer” character

Half peacock, half jackal, permanently on the lookout for skirt. Oh, he’s a one. It’s shocking the way he carries on, it is! But lads will be lads. There’s a moment in the opening credits of Happy Days where the Fonz approaches a mirror to perfect his quiff, then realises he is already staring at  perfection. He is ridiculous and ego-driven, but also lovable and at times needy. His perception that the opposite sex were mainly non-thinking vessels put on earth as his quarry truly belonged in 1950s Wisconsin, but writers kept him the right side of “potential date-rapist”.

Decades later, the kids have Dapper Laughs. He’s ITV2’s new lad star. Dapper made the jump this week from Vine/Facebook/Twitter sensation to his own dating show. Sorry, “on-the-f****ing-pull” show. Wanna get pussy? “Don’t treat them like a mate!” Dapper says. It’s imperative, lads,  a woman doesn’t feel like someone you see as  an equal. Wanna get your length away? “Clothes are important ’cos girls are into fashion and that type of shit,” says Dapper. What an utterly hateworthy prat. 

One of Dapper’s recurrent jokes is to shout “She knows!” as a woman passes. The joke, if I’ve not made it clear, is that the woman doesn’t know what everyone is laughing at while he looks both powerful and virile.

Oh, but there I go with my petty quibbles about women being cited continuously as an indistinguishable mass of feckless idiots. Or that niggling reminder that women must work twice as hard to be taken half as seriously by men like this. Or that it’s still OK to push a mantra that women are really just vaginas with limbs attached. It’s  humourless griping like this that leads men like Dapper to hate women like me even more.

But the fact is that all women have met Dapper in some form, or more accurately, they’ve met dozens of Dappers, hundreds and hundreds of Dappers in fact. Every time we leave the house in summer with bare legs and “invite” shouting. Or wait at traffic lights for a Transit van with a full front seat to pass. Or try and get our cars fixed. Or pass a group of men loitering outside a pub waiting for the comment or grunt indicating whether any of the gang have decided whether we are a potential wank-fantasy or, alternatively, a donkey none of them would penetrate. Dapper is everywhere.

He’s that lad in any group of lads you might run into in a bar who takes “banter” to “creepily offensive”. He’s funny if he’s not picking on you though. He’s that lad who lads think are really funny, until the years pass and they have a daughter of their own and suddenly they think, “Oh my God I have brought a little girl into a world where looking for ‘consent’ before sex is thought of as chivalrous.” He’s the sort of lad that former lads’ mag editors have long nights of the soul over. “I aided and abetted that predatory dickhead,” they think.

Much more important than any of this, however, is the fact teenagers love Dapper’s silly intenet videos – 10,000 Facebook Likes for every remark about his gonads – and grown-up television people are obsessed with maverick self-made youth brands like Dapper Laughs. TV folk really have no idea what Dapper is doing that is so appealing, but know that if they give him space on ITV2 they can sell youth advertising space around him.

That’s really as far as ITV2’s thinking has stretched here. It certainly hasn’t stretched to, “why do we think it’s OK to peddle this same old misogynistic shit about women for a new generation of teenage boys?” or, “in a world where women are making small gains for equality, is it right to pander to the worrying festering mass of emasculated, self-loathing menfolk drunk on  adamance that women, really, are just holes?” Or, even, “why are we, on one hand, going to war on the Seventies and Eighties for the derogatory way men viewed women, then, on the other hand, pushing it to teenage boys as a way of life?”

Oh, I sound like one of those feminists. I’ll never get a length off Dapper now. One thing the Dapper Laughs team certainly have not worked out is whether they are making a spoof comedy dating show around the concept of a fictional prick, or making an actual dating show for unpleasant males who think like Dapper. Perhaps Dapper and his new TV friends should work out what they have created by spending a lovely long time after his next club PA hanging out front of house, getting to know the types of men who think Dapper is an absolute stone-cold legend. They should really drink in their 3am nightclub wisdom about “getting pussy” and see how it sits with their consciences. Oi, and indeed, oi.

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