In Batman versus Superman, Lex Luthor says, “Do you know the oldest lie in America, Senator? It’s that power can be innocent.” In the film, Bruce Wayne decides that Superman is just too powerful and needs to be stopped because he’s a danger to society.
We need heroes. We’ve always needed heroes. The archetypal hero embodies strength, courage, mastery. The hero slays dragons, rescues the innocent and helpless and crusades for justice. The hero is powerful.
The hero fights for ‘good’, as he defines it. You may find you do not like his definition. The ‘shadow’ side of the hero is arrogance, narcissism, and using his mastery for himself rather than the world. Hence, a little dispute between two big superhero egos.
Andrew Tate, former professional kickboxer, founder of Hustlers’ University and former social media influencer has become a hero for a generation of young men. But he is a selfish sort of hero – even an anti-hero – bragging about his Bugattis, private flights, venerating money, demeaning the role of women, toting guns, all while a fat cigar hangs from his lips.
I’m an unlikely champion for Andrew Tate. He’s big enough and ugly enough to fight his own battles. And I don’t like his neanderthal attitudes towards women one bit (although I have sympathy for his promotion of traditional family values). But I want to rebut the idea that deplatforming him makes the world a safer place and explore why he has become a modern day hero for a generation of young men.
The controversial social media star was removed from Instagram and Facebook by parent company Meta for violating policies on dangerous individuals and organisations on Friday 19th August. TikTok and YouTube soon followed. Tate had 4.7 million followers on Instagram at the time of deplatforming, and videos with the hashtag #andrewtate had more than 13 billion views on TikTok. You might say he had Superman-esque social media powers.
Heroes must overcome the problems of their times, which is why the cultural and literary hero has evolved over time; social conditions create different heroes. Andrew Tate displays a sexist streak which is unpalatable to mainstream doctrinaire, and this has ultimately led – at least ostensibly – to his downfall. In fact, sexist diatribes were not his only fare, and his content focused on how to overcome depression, be successful and not be ‘a slave to the system’.
In multiple videos he tried to expose that freedom in modern society is an illusion and that people should understand manipulation and cut their own path. He doesn’t believe in climate crisis, he talks about globalists and hidden agendas, he casts doubt on the severity of Covid. In short, he has been a misinformation unit’s worst nightmare.
Many believe this is why Tate was really removed from social media platforms and de-monetised. Over the last few years, how many people have started to question the slippery, illusory quality of freedom? That life is not what they once thought? Tate’s apparent handle on an uncomfortable truth might be the secret to his social media stardom.
I spoke to teenage boys about why they like Andrew Tate and why they thought he was actually deplatformed. Journalists writing about Tate seem all to ready to demean boys for liking Tate and show little interest in understanding why. In fact, the idea for this article started with WhatsApp messages from one of my own sons. Normally he messages me to ask when dinner is, or send me links to clothes he wants me to buy. In the week that Tate was booted off social media, my son had an epiphany about freedom of speech and cancel culture. To my amazement, we had our first meaningful conversations about power and politics.
Young men were forthcoming about Tate’s allure. Joe, aged 15, said, “All my friends watch him. He’s got an interesting lifestyle, people look to up him. I think he’s straight up about what he thinks. He makes me laugh. Some of his opinions are quite – I don’t know how to say it – extreme. I like him.” Which views are extreme, I asked. “His views on women. Stuff like how he’d rather be in a plane flown by a man not a woman. He doesn’t think women should drive.”
Similarly, Frank, 16, acknowledged that Tate is sexist: “You can’t talk about Andrew Tate in front of girls. Partly he believes what he says, partly he’s trying to be funny, but girls don’t like it. They don’t like that he’s said it’s ok for men to cheat but not girls.”
I wondered what Frank made of that. After all, Tate has been removed from the internet because his misogynistic views are supposedly dangerous. He told me he agreed with some of his views on women, for example that women are better at some things, and men are better at some things, such as physical strength but said he didn’t agree it was OK for men to cheat, although he understood the “theory” behind the view.
All the lads I spoke to found Tate to be a positive role model, on balance. Will, 17, said that Tate was “alpha”, which is what he wants to be, while he felt that society encourages men to be “beta”. Frank was particularly moved by Tate’s content about male depression: “He was a positive role model because he taught young men not to be depressed. He says the cure for depression is being manly and successful. I agree with that.”
Young men also feel browbeaten by ubiquitous terms such as toxic masculinity, and relentless ideological education at school. “Woke people are passive aggressive and force their views on people,” complained Frank.
These young men were cynical that the calls for Tate to be removed from the platform were made over fears that he could be normalising violence against women. None of them believed that the real reason was misogyny. And why would they? The drill and rap lyrics they listen to, and the social media platforms they inhabit, are awash with sexism.
Have you seen Pornhub recently? It will take seconds to find a clip of a woman being slapped, or worse, and called a whore or bitch. Try searching for ‘TERFS’ or ‘JK Rowling’, on any platform, to find a multitude of recommendations that women standing up for women be raped, violated, hurt, burnt or killed. There are supposedly ‘progressive’ videos encouraging young gender non-conforming girls to have a double mastectomies, for goodness sake. Boys are contacted direct on Snapchat and Instagram by sellers of prostitution and drugs. If the social media platforms really want to clean their houses of sexism, violence and crime, they have much work to do. Andrew Tate barely touched the sides of the misogynistic cesspit.
“What’s the word for misoygny when it’s directed at men?” asked Frank. I paused briefly, as I reached for “misandry”. Frank exploited my pause: “Exactly. No one knows the word. Hatred against men isn’t as common against misogyny, but it happens and no one cares. White men are at the bottom of the food chain. Andrew Tate was rebuilding masculinity.” He seemed resigned, rather than angry.
Heroes speak to the need to achieve. While they are often disguised as normal individuals – such as Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne – they have an inner ability to be larger than life and succeed. Clark Kent’s Superman outfit is worn underneath his daytime clothes. He can break free at any time. What does Andrew Tate represent to young men? I’d suggest they hunger for his hero’s garb of cigar, muscles and fast cars which signal that his masculinity broke free of the woke Matrix. They want to explode into a larger mythology of success.
Will told me that Tate had become too powerful and the Government didn’t like him. I asked how he thought the Government had him removed from social media platforms. A “conference call, probably”. There are literal telephone calls between Government and Big Tech, as Nadine Dorries confessed in the House of Commons. Will’s instincts might be right in this case.
Joe concurred: “It’s weird because he was taken off so quickly, but there is a bunch of other people who do much worse and they haven’t been taken off. It doesn’t make sense. He just says things that people don’t want to hear and that’s why they banned him.”
“If someone opposes the Government, they can be wiped off the internet,” Frank explained. “He wasn’t taken off social media because he’s a misogynist, but because he goes against the Government. It also happened to Donald Trump. I don’t like him but it’s scary that anyone can be taken off social media if they have too loud of a voice. We need someone with a powerful voice to speak out about what’s happening, but Andrew Tate was the powerful voice.”
Frank thought that Tate was targeted specifically because he encouraged people to be individuals. He believes that, “The Government don’t want men to be strong and have our own minds. They want us to be sheep. Manly men do their own thing. The Government don’t want that.”
In the week Tate announced a mass exodus to Rumble, daily active users on the platform surged 45.3% compared to the previous week, according to data collected by digital intelligence company Similarweb.
Will Tate benefit from the ‘Streisand effect’, whereby censorship results in more attention? And can it last? “Our research, along with leading academic research, shows that while these ‘influencers’ might transition some of their following to alternative platforms after being removed from more mainstream ones, they almost invariably fail to regain both the following and broader content reach they had on platforms with billions of users and recommendation engines like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or YouTube,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate.
That’s the win that social media companies – and the wokerati influencers behind them – want. Tate’s audience will be constrained now he preaches from his exile on Rumble.
But what will happen to the 4.7 million followers on Instagram? They are unlikely to forgo their addiction to the mind-numbing cascade of acceptable Instagram and TikTok content, and they are now well-trained in the short form clip, so Tate’s long diatribes on Rumble will likely earn tens or hundreds of thousands of views, rather then millions. But the thirst for a hero (or anti-hero) won’t be satisfied by woke approved accounts.
Add a new cynicism about the Government to this hunger for a hero. A generation of young men now know that powerful voices can be silenced by authorities. “I hate the Government,” Frank told me.
Tate needed sunlight and debate, not to be cancelled and martyred. “They have made martyrs of us,” preached Tate on a new Rumble video. “They thought they could cancel the Top G… I emerge more powerful than ever before.”
His cancellation is a blow for free speech and millions of young men know it. His message was you can’t trust the authorities. Now those young men will think that’s true. They might be right.
And what’s worse, if Tate’s cancellation reinforces the idea in young men’s minds that he was right about not trusting the Government and the media, they might just think his attitudes to women were right as well. Any parent of teenage boys knows that ongoing exploratory and gentle conversation is the antidote to the onslaught of cultural sexism, not a high profile cancellation.
Journalists have hurried to praise the ejection of the King of Toxic Masculinity from the internet. They don’t get why he was a success in the first place. They criticise Tate and they criticise the young men they think he duped into liking him. GQ described his huge audience as “the lonely and the resentful”, seemingly unaware that this describes millions of young men who do not feel they benefit from “male privilege” in the least.
The young men I spoke to were not radicalised by Tate, but they might be radicalised by government censorship. They won’t stop looking for heroes. And heroes overcome the problems of their times.
Laura Dodsworth is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller A State of Fear: how the U.K. Government weaponised fear during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article first appeared on her Substack page, which you can subscribe to here.