The LadBible want you to take them seriously and think they’re cool
But they’re still cringe af
“Any female proving hard to bed shall be referred to as a Nobstacle Course.”
Remember that classic? That’s one of the early “commandments” the Lad Bible used to share. This was back in 2011, back when the uni lad wasn’t just cool – he was the Carling binning, slut shaming king of whichever shite poly campus he surveyed.
That year The Inbetweeners Movie grossed £41.8 million at UK cinemas. Mario Balotelli was still at Manchester City. You could say the word “banter” proudly, publicly and without irony.
You booked a summer holiday in Zante or Napa or Maga. Your best mate owned a garment he referred to as his “pulling shirt”.
And mirroring it all online, reflecting the style and substance of that way of life, was The Lad Bible. It was the place you’d go if you wanted to read, like and share statuses like this:
Somewhere along the line everything changed.
The Topman clearance shelf misogyny, the boobs, the blokes and the regular features with names like #CleavageThursday all vanished.
Clearly a painful process like this doesn’t happen overnight. Just as a small, stupid rodent slowly turns into a slightly less small, slightly less stupid rodent, the Lad Bible has evolved and changed into something less obviously sexist, less obviously toxic.
Yeah, you’ll still find Sunday League goalie fuck-ups, breakdancing grandmothers and guys peeling potatoes with drills on the Lad Bible.
But there’s also a whole new level of seriousness and even attempts to cover actual, non-viral, non-banter this is quite real lads news like the Paris Attacks or the Syria airstrikes. It’s become a little bit left wing and they’ve traded in Mario Balotelli for Stormzy and Justin Bieber.
I first noticed the change in the last couple of months when pieces like “Frankie Boyle Made Some Interesting Points Regarding The Paris Attacks In His Latest Article” started appearing on my timeline. It was like getting a lesson in politics from the guy in your class who’d previously struggled to spell his own name.
Of course, you can mute and unfollow the people who share this crap, but the Lad Bible isn’t going anywhere – it’s embarrassingly massive. 17 million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram means it dwarfs traditional media entities.
There are six million 18-34-year-old men in the UK and the Lad Bible claims to have five million followers in the UK in this age category. Everyone is a lad now, whether you realise it or not – you are, your mates are, their cousins and their mates are.
Emboldened by the creation of this brave new ladocracy, the Lad Bible has made some big hires: people who’ve worked at Disney, Yahoo and Vice. Even a tortured chronicler of anxious cool like Clive Martin has made positive noises about their transformation.
Speaking to the Guardian, Lad Bible CEO Alexander Solomou reflected on the changes they’ve made: “We are strong enough now and big enough to influence what people think about ‘lad’. That old-fashioned idea – I prefer the word lout – is not something that we believe in.”
Ultimately though that old-fashioned idea of the lad is what made the Lad Bible distinctive, unusual and successful. It was cringey and problematic and you never would have read it, but there were plenty of people called Dean (favourite food: chips) who loved it and shared it.
Now the Lad Bible wants to convince us that it’s not as embarrassing and as juvenile as the Facebook comments under its articles. The Guardian piece mentions a VW van shaped fridge full of beer in their Manchester office and that they’ve hired women (women!) to work for them.
They want us to think they’ve grown up, stopped tweeting about their accumulators and finally put the N64 they only kept for Goldeneye on eBay.
But turning into a watered down, illiterate, Upworthy for British men doesn’t change the name: Lad Bible. Could you actually say the words “Lad” and “Bible” in the same sentence without cringing? Probably not.