The controversial internet star now outranks Trump for Google searches. But who is he and why is he causing so much concern all of a sudden?
What’s all this?
Last week, Instagram news juggernauts Shit You Should Care About shared a message from a teacher at an all-boys secondary school in Aotearoa, lamenting that internet star Andrew Tate had become a “poisonous addiction” for their students. “The majority of our students, especially the juniors, are obsessed with him and the outlandish views he portrays,” they wrote. “What’s more terrifying is they actually see him as a role model.”
How can he be a role model if I’VE never heard of him?!
You are one of the lucky ones, please savour these last few Tate-free moments because we are about to make your world slightly worse. Andrew Tate is a 35-year-old former world champion kickboxer and reality television star who made his millions running an adult webcam business called “myfreecams” with his brother. At the height of the site’s success, he claims to have had 75 women working for him across four locations, and that he was making $600,000 a month, despite his brother saying on record that the venture was a “total scam”. He’s also subject to an ongoing human trafficking investigation in Romania.
Tate now runs an enterprise called Hustlers University where he teaches men – sorry, soldiers – how to be hustlers for just $49 a month. The Hustlers University Discord currently has over 140,000 members, largely aided by a scheme that rewards affiliates with 50% the fee for new sign-ups. Sound familiar? Sound… pyramid-ish? When he’s not being the Chancellor of Hustlers University, Tate appears to spend a lot of time smoking cigars, lying in a big bed, posing with his guns, and guesting on podcasts that have names written in all capital letters.
Hold on a minute, is that Joe Rogan?
It’s not Joe Rogan, but it’s not not Joe Rogan, if you know what I mean.
Surely he can’t be that controversial, he even called himself a feminist once?
Was that before or after he said “I think my sister is her husband’s property”? Or lamenting the rise of physically strong female characters in movies, suggesting that they should simply “suck dick and cook” instead? Or was it when he got banned from a plane after taking a photo of the female pilot and posting it with the caption “most women I know can’t even park a car, why is a woman flying my plane”? Or was it when he decreed that “if a man slept with 20 girls or 200 girls, he is still the man. If a woman slept with 200 men, she is worthless”? Or was it when he argued that female OnlyFans creators should pay a stipend to their male partners because “the intimate parts of her body belong to him”? I hope Gloria Steinem is taking notes.
Why does everyone suddenly know about him now?
It’s partially due to his appearing on some high-profile Twitch streams of the likes of AdinRoss, but it is mostly because of the aforementioned triangle-shaped scheme that has got him a lot of attention. Through tribute accounts called things such as Tate Clips, Tate Teacher, Tate Basics and Tate Speech, people are encouraged to compile and clip his controversial media appearances to get mega-views, often with a link to Hustlers University in the description box. “I put a plan together to conquer TikTok four months ago, boom, now it’s done, I own it,” he told CEOCast earlier in the year. The #andrewtate hashtag now has over 12.4 billion views on TikTok, and on YouTube it’s no different.
Why is a guy like Tate dangerous?
Look, we’ve got a good few years of evidence as to why furious men spouting bigoted bile to millions online are dangerous. What’s extra frightening about Tate is the extent to which he appears to be influencing (pre)teens and young men, including here in Aotearoa. The concerned teacher who contacted SYSCA said that their students were “starting to genuinely believe being successful is synonymous with abusing women” and that they overheard junior male students as young as 13 years old assert that rape victims were “asking for it”. As Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill told Newshub, this attitude can be “really damaging” to young people, especially given the harmful gender dynamics already enforced by pornography.
Why doesn’t TikTok do something about it?
In this investigation by The Observer into the rise of the misogynist algorithm, TikTok responded with the following: “Misogyny and other hateful ideologies and behaviours are not tolerated on TikTok, and we are working to review this content and take action against violations of our guidelines. We continually look to strengthen our policies and enforcement strategies, including adding more safeguards to our recommendation system.” As an experiment while writing this, I signed up to TikTok as a 13 year-old boy interested in “comedy” and “hacks” and got served up an Andrew Tate video within 60 seconds of scrolling.
Seems like, for now, they are tolerating it.