Andrew Tate has made a name for himself by openly stating controversial opinions. He has also been accused of engaging in illegal activities such as human trafficking, which we will address later. However, it is his outspoken nature that likely led to the other alleged offenses.
Tate, a retired kickboxer, utilized his fame in the ring – along with his unpleasant yet undeniable charm – to establish himself as a prominent online influencer. He is notorious for his misogynistic tirades and promotion of male dominance (“Women’s self-defense is a joke. What are you going to do when your face is smashed?” he states while mimicking punching a woman). He assures his followers that he can counteract the feminization of society today. His supporters eagerly sign up for his “university” classes in the thousands, eager to learn how to imitate their idol.
The documentary I Am Andrew Tate, which aired on Channel 4, covers the story of Tate and his brother Tristan’s arrest in Bucharest on suspicion of trafficking and other crimes. The film was supposed to include interviews with Tate himself, but the arrest occurred just as filming was about to begin. Tate had chosen Romania as the location for his webcam business due to the perceived weakness of their police force. Additionally, there are ongoing efforts by lawyers to reopen the investigation into multiple rape allegations made against Tate in the UK several years ago, with complaints that the police did not handle the women’s reports properly. The documentary covers all of this and more in a long and disheartening hour.
So there are no direct interviews. Instead, the documentary reconstructs Tate’s story from the copious material already out there. There are hundreds of hours of existing recordings of Tate ranting on podcasts and radio shows about his brilliance as a businessman, his philosophy of life and his upbringing. “I NEVER SAW MY MOM ASK MY DAD TO DO DISHES!”, he shouts triumphantly at one giggling, titillated male host. “I NEVER SAW HIM TAKE SHIT!”
There is an abundance of footage in which he discusses the luxuries that come with his success – the wealth, the cars, and the submissive women. He boasts about living the life of a “showy teenage boy”. It would be pitiful if it weren’t for the fact that his success is built on the suffering of women and his evident anger issues. When questioned about why he keeps a machete by his bed, the tone quickly shifts from pathetic to alarming as he responds, “The machete is on the floor, her panties are soaked, you’re going to have sex with her. Slap, slap, grab, choke, shut up, bitch, sex.” A “graduate” from Tate attempts to assure us that this is just a “humorous” aspect that has been taken out of context.
Tate’s account is contradicted by the statements of two women involved in the initial investigation in the UK, who claimed he had strangled and sexually assaulted them. They received limited updates on their case until Tate was a contestant on Channel 5’s Big Brother in 2016.
We received a message from Cassidy Pope, an educator in Texas whose video discussing Tate’s influence on her 14-year-old male students has gained support from teachers around the world. We also heard from Joe Mulhall, an anti-fascist activist who played a key role in exposing Tate’s actions and preferences.
However, the film relies heavily on Tate incriminating himself through his own words, which he certainly does. Nevertheless, without further examination of how Tate rose to fame, the documentary runs the risk of resembling the liberal version of the “Two Minutes Hate” in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. We are given the opportunity to express our disgust and revel in our sense of moral superiority, only to return to our daily lives feeling cleansed and self-righteous.
What makes the environment for Tate’s teachings so conducive? What emptiness exists within men that he is able to fill so effectively? From my perspective, Tate and his supporters appear to embody the saying that when one is used to privilege, any effort towards equality can feel like oppression. However, has modern society left some men (not all, of course) feeling lost and neglected in a manner that manifests in violent behavior if not addressed? Or is it simply a case of the saying “the buck stops here”?
Tate is like Trump; it’s not enough to dismiss him and his fans as deplorable. If we want to prevent the rise of others of his ilk, we have to look beyond him and ask what led to his popularity and how we can prevent this from happening again.
Andrew Tate is currently featured on Channel 4.