Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 16:47 GMT
Our Decade: New Lad rules the world
The 1990s. Been there, seen it, done it, bought the T-shirt. But how will the last decade of the millennium be remembered? As we approach 2000, many people are looking back over the past 100, even 1,000 years. E-cyclopedia, the guide to modern living, is staying closer to home with a five-part series on "our decade".
Rewind just a few years, and who would you have seen staring at you from the magazine racks? Gerard Depardieu, perhaps. Sean Connery almost certainly. Nick Faldo quite possibly. For these were the days of the New Man.
But then in 1993 Loaded happened, and nothing was the same again. New Man was dead, long live New Lad. Now it's hard to find magazines or newspapers which haven't been influenced by "him" in some way.
Tim Southwell, one of the founders and now editor of Loaded, wrote in his recently published history of the magazine, Getting Away With It (Ebury Press, £9.99), that there had never been an intention to replace New Man with New Lad.
The magazine's message was simple. It was, he wrote: "[D]on't take us too seriously, we're blokes and we're useless. . .We like football, but that doesn't mean we're hooligans. . .We like looking at pictures of fancy ladies sometimes but that doesn't mean we want to rape them."
Live for the moment
Speaking to BBC News Online, Southwell said he doubted New Lad existed, but said: "If he exists now, then he existed throughout the 20th Century and the entire millennium. If it means anything, I suppose it means someone who wants to live life for the moment and has very little regard for direct responsibility in his life."
The importance humour had for New Lad should not be underestimated, and not just in men's magazines. Comedian Frank Skinner signalled the new agenda when, in 1991, he won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival with a decidedly un-PC approach. In the 1980s, "Alternative Comedy" under Ben Elton's stewardship, had stood for many things, in particular being non-sexist. That, however, was the 1980s.
The new trend spread far and wide. The appetite for irreverence and informality which the magazine had whetted seemed to grow by what it was fed on. Magazines, newspapers, television programmes, and radio followed suit. So did books.
Gazza, who seemed more lad than new, filled the newspapers for years, memorably with drinking tales involving two fine practitioners of the movement, Chris Evans and Danny Baker. New Laddism was even embraced by sections of the female population. Girls and women were no strangers on the terraces and Girl Power swaggered around the pop charts, inculcating a generation of girls with attitude.
As the 90s draw to a close, it's not clear where the New Lad goes from here. Loaded is not as explicit as it once was, perhaps leading the way, while other magazines such as the once ultra-respectable GQ have a nipple count to rival the Daily Sport.
"I've no idea where it's going next," says Southwell. "But then again I'm not really that bothered."
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The next part in this series, looking at the way pop has eaten itself in the 90s, will be published tomorrow.