By now, you’ve probably heard the name ‘Dapper Laughs’. He is one of the first social media ‘stars’ to break into mainstream television in the UK and is the alter-ego of ‘comedian’ Daniel O’Reilly. O’Reilly first found fame on the app ‘Vine’ and if you’re interested in blatant harassment dubbed as ‘banter’, or view women as sexual objects, his profile is the place for you…
His hilarious ‘banter’ includes telling one female in his audience that she was ‘gagging for a rape’ and in another instance telling a homeless person they ‘stank of sh*t’, (both of which feature on his novelty Christmas album). His offensive and essentially unfunny humour resulted in the rejection of his donation to a homeless charity as Shelter felt his ‘brand of ‘comedy’ is something they felt it was important to stand against’. Hear, hear.
This crude comedy persona not only reinforces negative stereotypes of women, but also perpetuates the stereotype that men are all crude and boisterous.
It is both disheartening and unbelievable that someone like Dapper Laughs has found success via his blatantly sexist and offensive material (for instance, telling a girl to ‘turn around and lift up her fucking shirt’). This blatant promotion of misogyny seems to have come to a head with a petition to cancel his show on ITV reaching 68,000 signatures in just 4 days and O’Reilly killing off his alter-ego and claiming he would ‘not allow Dapper Laughs to represent [himself]’. The fact that ITV ever thought such a low-brow form of ‘comedy’ was ever acceptable is shocking and O’Reilly’s attempts to wash his hands of the ordeal should not be ignored, just because you create an alter ego does not mean you should not be held accountable for what you say. His material trivialises and normalises violence and harassment against both women and men- his measly excuse is almost as unfunny as he is.
What about ‘freedom of speech’? I hear you cry. Dapper Laughs is not being censored or banned in any way, he is still free to perform anywhere that will have him. The fact that around 70,000 people have voiced their opinion that he should not be allowed on ITV, that Cardiff University refused to let him perform for them and that a charity for the homeless refused his money is in no way affecting his freedom to express himself- but rather the vast majority expressing themselves. It is in no way acceptable for those who find his actions abhorrent to have to sit back and let him normalise sexual harassment in the name of ‘banter’ and under the pretence of ‘freedom of speech’. Harassment is not okay, it isn’t ‘banter’ and it certainly isn’t funny- and someone like Dapper Laughs should have never been allowed on mainstream television in the first place.