THE BLOG

Why Understanding Dapper Laughs Is Probably Better Than Hating Him

11/11/2014 11:56 GMT | Updated 11/01/2015 10:59 GMT
Jon Furniss/Invision/AP

Like a lot of people in the last week I've been on a crash course. I've binged on Vine. I've read every outraged blog. I've even watched two troubled media types debate on Newsnight - yes, Newsnight - the enigma, the phenomenon, the [INSERT OFFENSIVE WORD OF CHOICE] that is Dapper Laughs.

What I've managed to glean from my research is, like Ukip, that Dapper Laughs seems to represent the few, but has somehow managed to elbow himself into the minds, newspaper pages and Facebook accounts of the many.

His really, really, really tatty six second videos are genuinely naff. They're a sort of unironic Viz being played out in human form. Sid the Sexist for the millennials, if you like. The main difference is that during my crash course I didn't register a single laugh. This guy is 'proper' unfunny. But not only that. His views are dangerous. His jokes about rape are threatening. He's more than unlikeable.

But here's the paradox of Dapper Laughs. He's popular. This pied piper of Twattery has built an army of 1.7million followers on Facebook. For some perspective Ed Miliband - potentially the next prime minister - has 56,500 likes. Dave Cameron - the actual PM - has 398,000. Like it or not, this guy is influential and talks to a generation of men in a way very few people can.

Earlier this week ITV announced it will not continue to air the controversial Dapper Laughs on The Pull show. It seems execs, in the race to grow audience, miscalculated the impact on their brand hiring this guy would have.

One blog we've previously published on the Huffington Post about Dapper Laughs has gone viral and I recommend you read it.

In it Lee Kerns argues about the Dapper Laughs programme.

"What we put on the screen has a real world effect. And this show contributes to a culture of abuse that degrades us all - men and women - boys and girls.

"It is bad for girls evidently as they have to put up with numbskulls like Dapper Laughs, but it is damaging to boys as well by filling their heads with such nasty, disabling nonsense, warping their sense of what real engagement with 50% of Planet Earth's population could be like."

I couldn't agree more. Last week HuffPost UK relaunched its mens section. I wrote:

"Who are the role models educating boys about how they become men with values that benefit society? Who are the mentors working with young men on their confidence so they can achieve great things and grow in a positive way? Who in Britain is helping us build better men?

"We all need to change the way we talk about men because not only does it benefit how they see themselves, but because it will change how they view women. If we can prevent the problems of the past that men have created for women then both sexes win.

"We want to to tackle the things that are endemic amongst men that have now led to crisis points such as male suicide, body image, emotional issues and attitudes towards women."

I stick by this and believe that if, as a society, we are to understand and improve the attitudes of young men towards women then we need to understand exactly who is influencing them.

Who influenced Dapper Laughs? Why does he think his material is important? He's a living, breathing social subject we should learn from. We should probably try to understand him - it's more useful than hating him.

Like a lot of young men, Dapper Laughs needs to be brought into the fold. It's too easy, and possibly too predictable to call for him to be banned. Let's not make a marginalised hero of this guy. Why not follow him on social media so we can understand exactly what it means NOT to be a man and work back from there.

Instead, why not have a truth and reconciliation agreement. Failings of the past can be admitted and forgiven, and the 1.7m audience who mistakenly clicked on 'like' can be educated and mentored in a positive way to create some real change.