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MY TAKE ON ANDREW TATE

I’m confident you’ve heard of him. And more so that it wasn’t by choice. The internet is great; there is so much informative and inspirational stuff out there. But it all comes at the cost of the algorithm simply pushing whatever’s viral in front of our faces.

Most of it can be ignored. We can shake our heads and scroll on by. But this Tate thing is different. My partner and I are concerned. We both work with young people. We care about issues that impact them. We want them to turn out, to grow into good people. So when someone as toxic as Tate is polluting the minds of young boys and men, it worries us.

Following Tate’s recent arrest and rise to the front pages, I’ve done a bit of a deep dive. Yes – I’ve willingly gone further into what I’ve termed ‘The Tatetrix’. And honestly, it’s heartbreaking.

I can’t believe the things his army of young supporters have been saying – who are often just parroting his words rather than reflecting on their own experiences with the world. For example, here’s a 16yr old Tate fan in a debate, telling someone much older – who has a career and is married – all about ‘the real world’ and what women want.

That said, I’ve also found some informative and hilarious content on the topic:

Normally I’d leave things be. Except, I have to consider the sheer amount of pro-Tate content out there. Especially because of the affiliate marketing program Tate runs through his Hustler’s University. In a nutshell: Tate fans cut snippets out of his many long-form podcasts and interviews.

They turn them into reels and other short-form content with a referral link to join Tate’s $50 per month online community. As the algorithm pushes the content and others see it and sign up, a small commission is awarded. This is why there is so much Tate out there. It’s not that people appreciate it as much as they do; they see it as a chance to make a buck. Basically, Tate is Tupperware for teenage boys.

Why Tate is appealing

I know I’ve come out of the gate biting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m anti-Tate, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand. I get why he is so appealing. I’ve taken subjects on developmental psychology; I have a partner who is a high school teacher; and I was once a young man myself. I was once at the mercy of the adolescent male brain and pubertal hormones.

As science explains, young men are hypersensitive to status and respect. They are constantly concerned as to where they are in reference to their peers. Why? Well going back to more primitive times – and confirmed in current observations of non-human primates – being the pack leader guaranteed one’s pick of the ‘fruit’ and the chance to reproduce with multiple mates. We have evolved since then; we’re more civilized and have societal rules. But human biology still be biologisin’. (That sounded better in my head.)

I remember in high school the ‘cool kids’ would don the clothing brand SMP. The little spiel, repeated over and over, was that it stood for sex, money, and power. Which is everything, most teenage boys with bubbling testosterone levels want. SMP is no longer around, but sex, money and power remain at the top of the teeny wish list and the desire is constantly reinforced through movies, music and mainstream culture.

Found this on Google. Sorry to use your photo, guy. I’m sure 22 years later on you’ve changed.

Here comes Tate

A huge difference between my time as a young person and now is social media. It makes comparison so much more of an issue along with making space for almost anyone to step into the spotlight. Or in this case, driving through with multiple Bugattis, surrounded by women while shirtless and aggressively yelling over everyone about how great they are.

Tate is the type to get attention – a lot of it. You can multiply this by five due to the MLM scheme, and then ten due to his mission to offend and outrage – ensuring a response which means more engagement and views. There is no denying Tate has mastered marketing along with other achievements in competitive chess and kickboxing. But what I see is a big act void of any authenticity.

He has encouraged me to reflect on my own behaviour. Particularly how hard I tried in school to establish myself as the funniest – to compensate for my insecurity about my smaller size. I pushed my parents to get me ‘cool clothes’ and got haircuts every two weeks to keep my sick side fade. I got in trouble with the police for vandalism and bullied other kids who I felt were lower on the pecking order in order to elevate my standing. (This wasn’t an ongoing thing and I also reached out on Facebook later on to apologise.)

Looking back, I’m not too hard on myself. This wasn’t my failing or that of my parents; it’s a part of adolescence. Things also could have been much worse as I never went off the rails completely. And with time, I grew up and had adequate socialisation.

I learned the important lessons, such as that being the most physically attractive isn’t the be-all, and you can’t bully and intimidate your way through life. Being humble and respectful will get you much further. And all the material possessions and fame can never replace healthy, loving reciprocal relationships.

I didn’t get the money or fame, but I spent enough time trying to climb the corporate ladder to realise it wasn’t for me. There is also no shortage of famous people who cave under enormous pressure and end up having problem after problem.

Regarding dating – after reading The Game and being introduced to RedPill ideas, I quickly realised the advice is manipulative and silently screams of underlying insecurities and trust issues.

21yrs old in 2009. Before I learned life isn’t meant to be lived flexing the whole time.

Why is Tate, Tate

So, why is Tate the way he is? We don’t know. Because from everything I have seen, he always seems in character. It could be his absent, cheating father and the way he blamed his mother. It could be his early unstable romantic relationships that have left him resentful. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) are recognised conditions that have links to early trauma, genes and brain development. I’m not a psychiatrist, so this isn’t a diagnosis. I don’t know what he’s got, but something ain’t quite right.

I mean, look away from the screen for a second. In the real world, how many people do you know that act like Tate? To be frank: the people that come to my mind are criminals…

Leading to my next point: Tate is open about making his initial fortune through drug dealing before running a webcam operation where girls were manipulated into performing, tricked out of profits, and encouraged to prey upon desperate lonely men – pulling even more money out of them by selling them fake sob stories. He has casinos and is connected to the mob of Romania, which itself is a country known for unchecked corruption. At the time of writing this, Tate is also in jail awaiting trial for sex trafficking, rape, and money laundering.

I hate using the word, but he has had ‘success’ in what he is doing. His initial venture with webcams worked very well. And with the money came the ability to disregard the laws and customs the rest of us abide by.

It also allowed him to turn himself into a living, breathing marketing campaign – showing off a lifestyle that oozes SMP. A lifestyle that turns heads from a well-targeted demographic of young boys and men dying to know how they can get even a mere drop from his shiny, sweaty forehead. Hence his range of knowledge-based products: Hustler’s University, learn to make money online; and the PHD (Pimpin’ Hoes Degree) – where one can learn his ways of ‘managing women’. An approach the Netherlands Government warns is a type of human trafficking known as the romeo pimp or lover boy method.

From Tate’s website.


The good

Back to me again – I was depressed at 22. Newly dumped and unable to find work post-graduation, I felt fundamentally flawed as a person. I felt I was not living up to my ‘best self’ and it was eating at me. A doctor suggested anti-depressants, but I declined.

What I found relief through was the world of self-help. I loved working out so I already had disciple and drive. And I was an active user on the enormously popular bodybuilding.com forums. So a community of like-minded peers and an endless supply of inspirational and insightful content and was only a click away.

From what Tate fans share, this is what draws them in. Having someone who is loud, confident, and screaming at every bit of weakness in you has an undeniable effect. And it can be addictive. Hell – I used to frequently fire myself up by listening to the famous locker room speech, I am a Champion.

Then there’s the to-the-point practical advice around discipline, setting goals and taking care of one’s physical health etc. Tate’s fans – especially those with short attention spans who live on social media – find it all so easy to digest. I don’t disagree that there are many things Tate says that may be helpful; I just don’t believe it negates everything that’s toxic.

I also don’t understand how his most die-hard fans can act like self-help and motivational content didn’t exist until now. It existed long before Tate – trust me. And even before my time, Tony Robbins had people running across hot coals in the 70s.

People throughout history have accomplished and spoken about amazing things. But the difference is the more recent rise of social media, influencers and para-social relationships (also known as ‘simping’ in Gen Z slang). From the screen, Tate is someone ‘living the dream’ – specifically a teenage boy’s wet one. For those a bit older, he surrounds himself with bags of money – still appealing.

For someone deep in the dumps, hating themselves and their life, Tate puts them down while he puts his life on show – ensuring their admiration while rewarding them with access to the solution he conveniently sells. Where those like myself see a man who hasn’t integrated his shadow, his fanbase sees a candle in the dark.

I don’t disagree that Tate can encourage positive changes in one’s life – even if he promotes a fantasy of living a problem-free, money and women-filled one. It’s the other stuff I’m worried about….

The bad

After Tate draws viewers in, flexing his lifestyle and establishing authority, the toxic rhetoric begins. Examples can be found in some of the widely shared snippets where he refers to women as his property who can’t be trusted to go out without a man, blames sexual assault victims, and pushes other backwards, misogynist RedPill attitudes.

Some supporters claim they are “taken of context” – not that I’ve found the full podcasts to be any better. And others state they just don’t take this side of him seriously – which is great. But the issue is that there are still many that do, especially young men who are highly impressionable and still forming their views and understanding of the world.

There are teachers on Reddit sharing their experiences, I’ve spoken to my partner (also a high school teacher), and this Guardian article also discusses Tate’s impact. Then there is my own my well-being work in schools addressing the expression of ‘toxic masculinity’ amongst young men: excessive aggression, lack of consent and respect of women, and believing that vulnerability is a weakness.

Given my personal experiences and career path, Tate really ticked me off with his claims that depression is made up and going to therapy makes you weak. The truth is that suicide is a leading cause of death for men aged 15 – 44 here in Australia where domestic violence also continues to be a problem. I see hard work being done to help both young boys (see The Man Cave) and adult men (see Movember), and I see Tate only taking things backwards in the long run.

To those who are already well across the line into the wrong camps, Tate only fans their internal flames. He tells them that their anger against women and the wider world is justified. To no surprise, Tate was quickly appointed to a leadership position in the existing RedPill / Mansophere communities.

As someone who appears ‘successful’ he provides assurance there is nothing wrong with their beliefs. He also provides them access to his own echo chamber. Sorry, a ‘university’ – which they can access for $50 a month. To no surprise, Coffeezilla’s review found Hustler’s University to be a half-cooked over-hyped product. I had a good laugh at Coffee’s line: “No. You’re not escaping the Matrix by doing Amazon drop shipping; you’re literally working for the richest man on earth.”

To clarify: it doesn’t matter how many comments there are that call Tate the ‘TOP G’ because that individual feels motivated to stop hating themselves and make positive changes regarding their productivity and health. I genuinely am happy for them. But I’m looking at the bigger picture here, and listening to those who are in a position to see it.

Extra info: We also can’t overlook the company Tate keeps. He has affiliations with known conspiracy theorists and far-right activists who have been criminally charged.

The changing landscape of masculinity

At the end of 2022, I was invited onto the show SBS, Insight. The topic for discussion was masculinity and I was there to share my personal experience. I used to see masculinity as something defined by my physical appearance. As mentioned, my size was a point of insecurity and I spent my post-school life trying to get as muscular as I could.

I achieved the muscles and a new sense of confidence, but I also eventually discovered self-acceptance was more of an ‘inside job’. Over time I revised my definition of what it meant to ‘be a man’. Against Tate’s advice, I opened up about my mental health and even started going to therapy. I found meaning through volunteering and a career that allows me to help those in need.

Through going on Insight and doing more research, I learned more about the challenges facing men on a wider scale. Young boys are falling behind in school and older men feel unsure about their position in the world. Neel Kolhatkar elaborates in his great video essay titled The Masculinity of Tomorrow. There is also this group panel discussion facilitated by VICE that shared a few different perspectives.

An insightful take I’ve heard is that Tate isn’t the problem; rather he’s a symptom of a much bigger one. As Hunter Johnson of The Man Cave shared: young men feel they don’t have role models who understand their challenges and frustration in a post #MeToo world. They also spend most of their time online where almost anything goes compared to traditional media. This all makes for an environment where someone like Tate can capture their attention and confidently claim a vacant leadership position.

Where to from here?

Tate claims he often gets called Morpheus because he “wakes people up to the real world.” Funny that. Because I honestly believe the way out of the Tatetrix is to grow up and get into the real world. And that’s not in an entirely condescending way. I’m talking about getting some life experience: moving out of home, becoming part of a larger institution through education or employment, and expanding one’s social network which includes engaging with and getting to know a variety of women.

Part of being young is believing in the fantastical – be it that Santa and wrestling are real, or that one is destined to become an astronaut or a celebrity. But with time, a few reality cheques get cashed. I’m confident these young fans will eventually learn how wrong Tate’s misogynistic generalisations are, and that trying to be the loudest and most dominant ‘hustler’ in the room, who treats all social interactions like transactions, isn’t best the way to live.

For every Tate flexing on ‘The Gram’ in their private jets, there are many more whose attempts at this dream have failed to take off. But as expected, reality is never discussed within these multi-level-marketing and get-rich-quick schemes. They stay alive by keeping the dream alive.

Along with recognising that Tate is a businessman running a business, I also hope he gets outed for his cult-like tactics. A quick Google will show that people throughout history have been exploited in the most bizarre of ways.

Cults work by having a self-grandiose yet charismatic leader who acknowledges a group’s pain points, promises an enticing vision of the future, and creates a closed community that reinforces a big scary ‘us vs them’ narrative (there are a few grifters including Tate that have stolen ideas from The Matrix). Here the followers feel a sense of belonging and only grow more distrusting of the outside world. Critical thought or challenging the leader is strictly not allowed. (Tate does berate his webcam girls and students who leave his programs.) I’m not claiming Tate is going to have his fans go flying completely out of Heaven’s Gate; I’m just pointing out undeniable similarities in how he engages with his community.

Final words

When I got to the end of this, I realised I’m probably writing to the converted. But I still found it helpful to put my thoughts down and process everything I’d read – both from Tate and his fanbase. It was cathartic to vent; to let go. Then I had the clarity to see that, as with my work as a counsellor, facilitating change here requires meeting someone where they are with respect, empathy and curiosity. As legitimate as it is, this piece still is a bit of an attack that will spring most Tate fans into defence asking: “what colour is your Bugatti?” So I also put together the video message below.

Before you watch it or comment, know that I’m also genuinely open to constructive feedback and debate. Mass harassment from anonymous profiles and fanatical fans, however, is not constructive and would only further prove my points. Please show your face and share your personal story. Present supported evidence for your case that isn’t just a parroting of Tate’s talking points or personal insults.

Alternative role models

This is not a comprehensive list. These are some of the people I’ve learned from.

  • Eugene Teo – fitness and life advice
  • James Smith – fitness and live advice
  • Ivan Djuric – popular new YouTuber who makes vlogs about weight training and his nursing work
  • Humble the Poet – musician, life advice and creativity
  • Joseph Williams – mental health advocate and retired sporting professional
  • James Clear – writer and productivity expert
  • Andrew Huberman – research and podcasts across many topics
  • Rich Roll – interviews many inspirational people
  • David Goggins – long-distance runner and SEAL who shares a powerful personal story

 


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2 Comments

  1. I love how you discussed positives and negatives of Tate, as much as he is a horrible person it is absolutely true that young men need mentorship. I just hope they can find it from people who encourage them to honour all of their needs (mental and emotional included) not solely their physical and superficial ones.

    1. Thank you for reading Kat. From when I was in school, emotional literacy has come so far! Great orgs doing in school programs.

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