Anyone who says men don’t have 21st Century role models has never seen University Challenge

Starter for men


A lot has been said recently about chivalry, masculinity and the 21st Century man. 

There are pundits who claim young men haven’t a clue where they belong in the scary world of 2015. They say without the right role models, boys won’t grow up knowing what it means to be a man. But anyone who really believes that has obviously never seen University Challenge.

Nodding their scholars’ names to the camera, coolly buzzing in to boss Paxman on the difference between Debussy and Berlioz: if you want to see male grace under pressure — that’s real masculinity — tune into University Challenge on a Monday night.

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These men know where they stand in today’s fraught gender politics. It’s them against the clock and an inferior uni with the world as their audience. Their names read more like soldiers than students: Durham Morgan-Thomas, Manchester Stallard, Pembroke Foxall. They aren’t colleagues, they’re comrades, going over the top to face Paxo’s machine-gun questioning.

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They’re not phased by looking cool: they don’t bother with trivial styles (sweater vests), glasses (rimless) and haircuts (bowl). They know winning their team’s starter for 10 is all that matters. Fashion is fleeting, but the glory of correctly answering which nomadic people established their first empire south of the Danube in the late 7th Century is forever. Just look at the victory sips of water they earn with each begrudging nod of approval from Paxman.

York Keane

Former names of which capital city include Ji, Yanjing, Khanbaliq? Beijing.

UCL Cook

“You may not doubt that this object, unwanted even in commercial America, is the deflowering of our capital.” This statement concluded a protest by notable figures including Zola and Dumas? The Eiffel Tower.

Caius Loveday

“Whom the gods love died young” is an aphorism attributed to which ancient Athenian dramatist of whose extant works the play “Dyskolos” is the most substantially complete? Menander.

These brothers-in-arms are such paragons of masculinity, imitation videos have sprung up in admiration. Laying down a swaggering soundtrack of Dr. Dre, the editors of these videos know what University Challengers mean to whole classes of young mean. Kings of general knowledge, thugs among men.

If you’re a young man reading this and you’re still doing bicep curls for girls, furiously clicking through pick-up artist sites and porn, deciding which Topman low-cut v-neck best accentuates your pecs: stop it. Put down the weights and turn off incognito mode.

Do you want to be a man? Learn from the best. Look at how UCL Papaphilippopoulos likes to get down. I bet he goes by Big Papa for short.