21st Century Boy - Introduction and Early Days


So why '21st Century Boy' ? - Well some pundit (a journalist actually) suggested that Tom Daley epitomised all that was best in the youth of the 21st Century - and this may be true.

The 20th Century saw the creation of the concept of youth.
What we often don't realises is that concept of  'youth' - 'young people' itself is a very odd concept.
For example, before the nineteenth century there was no such thing as 'young people' - they were just 'miniature adults' (see right).

The reality of youth, and youth culture emerged at the end of the Second World War - and was very much an import from the United States.
Initially youth was in opposition to their elders, beginning with the Beatnicks, in their duffel coats and roll neck pullovers, and then with the Teddy Boys (see right above), aping their Edwardian predecessors (hence 'Teddy').
The Teddy Boys morphed into Rockers and Hell's Angels on motorbikes, and the new boys on the block were the Mods, on their scooters and dressed Italian style.

Later came the 'Punks' with their safety-pins and 'bondage', and rather more acceptable were the 'New Romantics' (see Duran-Duran left) - although their 'gender-bending' caused considerable consternation to many members of the older generation.
But what about the 21st Century - well, youth culture has radically fragmented, and includes such diverse groups as Hip Hop, Chavs, Indie and Emos (see right above), Scene Kids, Nu-Metal, Rave, Goths and Preppies (see left) to name just a few.
Most of these subgroups are peripheral, however, and do not really represent viable alternative lifestyles.
So what's all this got to do with 'our Tom' ?

Well, contrary to some reports to be found in the media, young people in the 21st Century are not all binge drinking looters and rioters.
If anything, the dominant youth style, amongst white teens, is the Preppie style, which is remarkably conservative and conformist, both in appearance and general social attitudes
Preppy, preppie, or prep (all abbreviations of the word preparatory) refers to a modern, widespread clique, originating in the United States, which is often considered a subculture.

While originally a style restricted to the wealthy upper classes, the preppy style has now filtered down to to the white working class.
Characteristics of Preps include a particular subcultural speech (awesome, totally, fab, omg etc), vocabulary, accent, dress, mannerisms, and etiquette.
Preppies are depicted as a shallow and transparent group primarily concerned with extrinsic things.
Preppy fashion became popular when designers like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, and Luella Bartley added the Preppy style into their clothes.
The main concerns of Preppies are popularity within their own social group, physical appearance, and material possessions - remind you of anyone ?

Now this Preppy generation is very different from its forebears.

The generation of Teddy Boys, Bikers, Mods and Rockers, Punks (see right) and New Romantics all had one overriding ambition, and that was not to be like their parents.
In achieving this aim, in most cases, they caused their parents heartache, and earned the disapproval of the older generation.
The 21st Century generation, in this respect, is very different.

They are essentially conformist.
Mum and dad want their offspring to be attractive, successful, and moneyed, and so do their children.
And children are now so pampered and guarded, from their earliest years, that it is difficult to imagine all but the most rebellious or disturbed offending their parents in any way.
This is a generation with no 'fire', despite the much touted 'Olympic Flame', and the generation to be 'inspired', will only be inspired to mindlessly conform.
And 'our Tom' is thus the epitome of this new generation - truly a '21st Century Boy !'

He is polite, of a sunny disposition, always clean and well turned out, with a dazzling plastic smile.
And he is usually deferential to his elders.
His ambition is to be famous and rich - and that's it !
Read his autobiography - written in Prep-speak, (a bit like New-speak - see Orwell 1984) - and you will find no 'inner life' - no soul-searching.
There is no metaphysical core, no cultural ideal motivating this boy's remarkable career - just a blind striving for fame and fortune.
The nearest Tom ever gets to idealism is a rather outdated striving to 'win for his country - Great Britain' - and hence all the Union Jacks, with their unpleasant associations with extreme right wing politics.

And so we begin with our 21st Century boy - the first child of a working class couple living in Plymouth.
Tom, the first child, is taken by his doting parents to various out of school activities, including swimming and martial arts.
He's a good boy, pale, slim and shy, - always working hard at school, attending to his homework, although he is not as tidy at home as his always immaculate appearance would make one think.
But then Tom gets up on a diving board - a fateful act that changes everything !



Robert and Debbie
Wedding Photo

Thomas Robert Daley - born 21 May 1994, Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

Robert and Tom Daley
Bath Night

The Daley Brothers 

The Australian Youth Olympics in January 2007 welcomed Tom as part of Team GB’s young athletes group.
Now competing against elite world class peers, he continued to impress.
At age 13, still two years below the minimum age requirement for the Youth Olympics, Tom was given special dispensation to compete.
Despite what might have been a disadvantage he proved his ability by winning a Silver medal in the 10m Platform Synchro event and finished fourth in the individual competition.

Young Tom


At age 7 Tom’s diving career began after displaying incredible raw talent for the sport and a strong competitive instinct.
In June 2004 Tom made his competitive d├ębut and became the youngest ever under 18s Champion at the Nationals.
He hasn’t been beaten in his age group, at any National Championship event, ever since!

Tom Daley - Underwater

Tom and Robert Daley - Early Days

Tom Daley - Skiing

Tom Daley - Training - Early Days

Tom Daley Diving - Early Days
Tom Daley - Early Publicity Shot

So many people will be saying 'Finally !' - or 'I told you so !' or something similar.
But Tom's little video bombshell is not really all it seems to be.
It gives the impression, with its 'wobbly' framing - and impromptu, of the cuff style, that it's Tom just having a personal chat with you.
In reality, of course it could be seen as a carefully crafted piece of publicity utilising an autocue.
Perhaps - realising that Tom might be soon to be 'outed' the video can be seen as a pre-emptive strike aimed at damage limitation.
Some have commented on the fact that Tom does not use the words 'gay' or 'coming out'.
He simply states that he has a relationship with a 'guy' - and he adds that he still 'fancies' girls.
Now it was obvious to some, from when Tom was a boy, that he could be described (maybe unfairly) as 'fay' and effeminate - and the bullying at school was quite probably from other boys who perceived Tom as 'gay'.
In addition, as far as has been generally reported,  Tom never had a 'real' girlfriend - just girls who were friends.
Yet Tom (wisely) refuses to allow himself to be given a 'gay' label.
Career-wise, (in terms of advertising) of course, the 'gay' label could be financial suicide.
Only a small percentage of the population would describe themselves as 'gay', and so, for the advertiser, a 'gay' media/sports star might not have sufficient general appeal for them to be a profitable proposition.
However, an even smaller percentage of the population would label themselves 'bi-sexual' (although, in fact, bi-sexuality - to some degree is the normative sexual position), and so Tom was probably carefully advised to avoid that term as well.
With great skill, he has obviously beensuggested to him that he should present his sexuality in terms of a positive 'relationship' - which just happens to be with a 'guy'.
In addition, the 'form' of the relationship is not specified.
Comment in the media indicates that most people have taken the relationship to be a sexual one - a 'gay relationship', but Daley doesn't use the word 'gay' or sexual in the video.
The way is, therefore, open for him to 'flip-flop', and if things become problematic, to indicate that the relationship in question was a 'platonic' (non-sexual or non-physical) relationship.
Daley admits in the first part of the video that he has been 'vague' when talking about some 'intimate' matters.
Probably some would consider the the words 'devious' or 'misleading' more suitable.
In this video, however, which purportedly clears everything up, he could equally be seen to be vague.
All he reveals is that he is having a 'relationship' with a 'guy', and that he feels happy and 'safe'.
The true nature of the relationship is not made clear, the identity of the 'guy' is not given (although his identity is obviously known), and the actual nature of Daley's sexuality is not indicated.
So everything still seems to be very 'vague', and the video may be seen to be a 'red herring' - a false trail, possibly intended to put to right the so called 'misquote'.
Some would suggest that it would have been refreshing if Tom had simply said 'I'm gay (or bisexual), and having a gay relationship with .........' (and we all know who), rather than this carefully scripted ramble intended, apparently to make the event as anodyne as possible.


This post has now been superseded, as Daley appears to have taken the plunge (no pun intended) and has decided to 'marry' his 'guy'.........



click below for

find out about the Tom Daley
who was left out of 'My Story' - Tom's autobiography