Daniel O’Reilly declared on Newsnight that his character, Dapper Laughs, was dead, never to be performed again, after a petition with almost 70,000 signatures resulted in the termination of his ITV2 show.
The character, a self-confident cheeky chappy with an eye for the ladies and no chat-up line too outrageous was, as he said himself on Newsnight, no more than a character, as many of his defenders have said, much in the same vein as say, Al Murray’s the Pub Landlord.
But what was different in this case? Internet feminists decided that the mere presence of Dapper Laughs on television was going to cause men to commit rape.
In seemingly the only actual grilling of a guest on Newsnight since Paxman’s departure left the show toothless, Emily Maitlis went at O’Reilly with no holds barred, reciting things the character had said but stripped of any context and accusing him of inciting rape.
She followed the “incitement to rape” line for some time, to the point where he was conceding he would “feel terrible if his act led anyone to go on to do something like that”, despite the fact there is not and has never been any evidence to suggest that monkey see, monkey do, in the face of decades of moralising crusaders attempting to show just that, with study after study attempting to link violent video games with real world violence and ‘disrespectful’ porn to real world rape all bearing no fruit.
Perhaps Maitlis had access to some top secret files about some particular definitely-inspired-by-Dapper crimes that have been committed of late, but more likely, realising that there was going to be hysteria for daring to even invite him on, she had to make the interview a ritualistic slaughter, lest the net nannies click their mice to pull the plug on Newsnight too, for “spreading this sick filth”.
At the British Comedy Awards, Jo Brand, when asked what her favourite type of man was, answered, “a dead one”. Had James O’Reilly said this to an equivalent question about women he’d be arrested for psychically channelling Peter Sutcliffe.
James O’Reilly first became prominent on social media site ‘Vine’, where he amassed over half a million followers, and he went on to make a programme for ITV 2. The former consisted of general hijinks and one-liners in his South London accent like, “I was gonna tell you a joke about me cock but it’s too long”, and the latter involved stunts like him musing that women love testosterone and rubbing bull’s balls on his neck, and cake (“for the bigger girls”, apparently). Hardly even vaguely amusing, but then I’m not its target audience.
I hadn’t seen O’Reilly’s style of “humour” since my school days. He carries enough confidence and comic timing that one or two of the lines he delivers bring laughs, and there are “did he really do that” moments of sheer brass neck, like when he throws a crisp packet at Gary Lineker’s son.
This sort of behaviour had largely disappeared from television, with comedy programmes now consisting mainly of panel shows making jokes about David Cameron, but O’Reilly’s popularity on Vine illustrates how flooding the airwaves with something can’t force people to laugh at it. As one of O’Reilly’s fans questioned, defending him on his Facebook page, “What next, we’re forced to laugh at Miranda? F**k that.”
The guys who found the brash, self-confident class clown at school funny didn’t go away. They didn’t automatically graduate from laughing at his year 11 pranks of pretending to fill a girl’s bag with insects and inviting a reaction, to chortling over Alan Davies answering yet another QI question with an obvious (but wrong) answer for the 427th time.
Whether internet feminists like it or not, there’s clearly a market (which seems to be working class men) for this sort of humour, and middle class feminists seem to be waging a class and gender war against working class men and male humour and lad “banter” as a whole. Looking at the Dapper Laughs Facebook page, his fans accuse offended feminists of “not getting it”. And why should they get it? They aren’t the target market.
Yes, women might well find Dapper Laughs offensive, but right wingers could be offended tuning into any of Radio 4’s alleged “comedy” shows. The difference is that in recent years, internet feminists have taken it upon themselves to try to get anything and everything they deem “offensive” excised from the airwaves and, in the case of “pick up artist” Julien Blanc, denied visas.
Irritation that used to just culminate in women frustratedly conversing with their girlfriends about disliking Dapper Laughs, over a bottle of wine has, thanks to the internet, taken on a hideous authoritarian power where mass outrage can be manufactured and acts pulled via the power of feminist Twitter.
Imagine if they had put the power of their petition clicks not into censorship, but into something positive. Feminists often complain that women footballers are paid significantly less than male footballers. Just imagine if the 70,000 who signed that petition against Dapper Laughs had signed one to get women’s football shown on TV then actually watched it, creating demand!
Internet feminists and their click censorship is becoming more and more prevalent and needs to be stopped before our entire airwaves become one long broadcast of Women’s Hour, and anything even vaguely off-colour is either purged or self-censored in fear of an angry mob of red-faced clicks, giddy from their last authoritarian victory.