Lads on Tour: Please Shut the Fuck Up
Lads on Tour are easily identifiable. You walk into a hostel, bar or party and they’re grouped together, grabbing at each other’s scrotums, downing a beer-bong or arguing with one another about which “tuuuuuunnnne” should be played next on the overpriced speakers they purchased with their last tax return. But it’s okay, because “the bass on these bad boys is sick”. Don’t expect them to be wearing shirts – it’s important to them that you know how hard they hit the gym, but do expect repetition among their travel stories. It’s equally as important that you know just how hard they “get on it”.
“Yeah, well me and Simmo were in Thailand before we came to London and it was unreal aye. When we were in Ko Phangan we all got real fucked on ‘shrooms and went to this full moon party and then Simmo got a root from this bird but GET THIS – they did it in the same bed as her fat friend. What a dirty faggot.”
These groups of men will have typically come together through sport, work or high school (because what else is there in life when your brain cell count totals six) and will be travelling together for months at a time. If they’re Australian, which is more than likely, they probably work in mining. The resources boom in Australia over the last decade has seen an exponential increase in the number of labourers earning disposable incomes that are disproportionate to their usual earning capacity. Now, instead of smashing $10,000 on a week away in Bali on a ‘boys weekend’, they look to smash $100,000 on a three-month European bender, with a quick pit stop through South-East Asia on the way home. They pass through countries at a rapid rate, destroying the few remaining shreds of cultural integrity that Australians abroad have managed to maintain.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “But what’s the big deal? They’re just trying to have a nice time…” it’s likely that you’re either an aesthetically-pleasing young female who searches for sexual attention from these men at the cost of anyone who actually gives a shit about you, or perhaps you yourself are a lad. You may now proceed to punch yourself in the face.
Seriously speaking, there is a valid argument for why the cultural appropriation of “lads on tour” needs to be bought to a halt and, as with most things, it concerns the alienation of “the other”.
If you’re overweight, gay, have an appreciation for the arts or perhaps just aren’t into drinking or drugs at excessive quantities, then don’t expect to feel welcome when the lads are about. It’s seems, at times, that these men have a gene that allows them to exclude “the other” without them even realising it. It’s almost impressive.
Girls who exceed a size 8 will be ignored and snickered about when out of earshot. Homosexuals can expect to be similarly ostracised. While physical violence is less likely than it was 20 years ago, don’t expect to become close friends with a lad – I mean, put yourself in their shoes for a minute, what would Davo think if he saw them talking to a poof? He was the footy captain after all. If exclusion wasn’t enough, you can expect to feel humiliated also. To a lad, there is nothing funnier than a bit of man-to-man affection. Slaps on the ass, surprise cock-grabs and the occasional nipple cripple are hilarious, right? I mean, as if that would actually be how anyone gained sexual fulfillment.
If you’re sitting at a table with a group of lads and feel it’s appropriate to inject some personal analysis or reflection on a film you saw recently, expect to be stared at blankly before being reminded about that time Rob’s foreskin nearly got ripped clean off by this wicked break back home on the central coast. And God help you if you’re not a drinker. You are a prude and that’s all there is to you. Now fuck off and go read a book or something.
At its core, international backpacking embodies the idea that a journey can challenge and broaden your perception on the world. Heightened quantities of interaction with a more diverse range of personalities from different social, political and economic backgrounds are readily available when you’re on the road, and it is through these conversations that we inch closer to a stable idea of self-identity. Young men who travel in packs, obnoxiously dominate social situations and shift the focus of interaction to be solely about drinking and sex are jeopardising why an individual would choose to travel in the first place.
Furthermore, the (often drunken) behaviour of these men in local communities once untouched by the deathly tourist industry gives both Australians and all backpackers a bad name. Most people get it – freedom is yours providing you don’t hurt anyone else in the process – but if you’ve got friends around you and you’re totally pissed, it’s fine to climb all over monuments and significant cultural icons in a drunken stupor. And nah, don’t worry about everyone else on the beach when you’re having a drug-fuelled punch up for the hell of it. Local families love it when you kick sand into their kids’ eyes. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.
Fortunately, Lads on Tour are just a new manifestation of a social enemy that people have been working to fight against for quite sometime – heterosexual, rich, white men; the devil re-incarnate. Resistance against this force has seen the creation of some beautiful things – house music and Orange Is The New Black for example, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when the backpacking community has the balls to stand up and tell it like it is – yes, the size of your triceps are only comparable to that of your ego, but we’re over you’re shit.
Admittedly, the unforgiving working conditions that miners are subjected to in Australia is enough to make anyone want to live in a state of perpetual intoxication. The mental health rates for fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers is distressingly low and unsurprisingly so – it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the ongoing removal from loved ones and consequent sense of isolation makes for a poor quality of life. Combine this with an overhanging angst about just missing out on a professional sporting career upon leaving high school and voilà: hello self-loathing.
I request now, that you quit ruining international travel for the rest of us. Get help for your on/off cocaine addiction and for fuck sake, get some real social skills. There are people out there who don’t like football, don’t have a vagina and don’t wear size 8 clothing and they are still really interesting – swallow your pride and try striking up a conversation with them. If this doesn’t work, and you still don’t feel any better about yourself when you curl up at night, you don’t feel any better about yourself after this, maybe you should spend some of that ridiculously high wage on getting a therapist – the two-story McMansion you’ve got planned in the outer-suburbs of Perth for you, the missus and the four kids you’ll come to hate can surely wait.
*I originally titled this article “Lads On Tour: Shut The Fuck Up, Seriously No One Cares”, but then realised I did care enough to write an article in the first place. And I do care. You’re making yourself, and the rest of Australia, look like dicks in front of a lot of people. It’s really not half as funny as you think it is. Seriously lads, sort it out.