Opinion

Andrew Tate is the worst possible example of being a man

Today's role models for young men are bitter and aggressive muscle-men who eat raw meat and never smile, where has playful irreverence gone?

Andrew Tate. Image: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Should they get elected, the Labour Party have said they will train up “positive male influencers” to go into schools and teach young lads not to be dickheads. This, they reckon, is a necessary response to the insidious influence of internet weirdos like Andrew Tate.

Tate, in case you don’t know, is a buffed-up manchild who chomps cigars and brags about his fast cars on social media. Somehow, he has become a role model to millions of young men across the globe who buy into his daft worldview (based on throwback ideas of ‘tough guy’ masculinity and a fear of women, veiled thinly behind confused, shouty, anti-feminist rhetoric). 

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He truly is the dick’s dick. The sort of bloke who almost certainly had no mates at school and struggled to ever look girls in the eye. In any just world he would still be living with his mum, binge-drinking energy pop while being catfished by Russian bots pretending to be sexy girls.

But in 2024, Andrew Tate really is rich, famous and admired by a worldwide legion of spod-acolytes.

He is, of course, the symptom and not the cause of this lonely and pitiful brand of modern masculinity. It is a culture inhabited by young men who unironically talk and think like Apprentice candidates: preoccupied with being dominant. They want to be seen as the best at everything they do: physically strong, mentally sharp, philosophically bold. Most of all, they want to be taken seriously. And that is the biggest shame of all. 

When I was a young dickhead I knew I was a young dickhead. Our role models weren’t muscle-men who ate raw meat and never smiled. They were playful idiots like Paul Gascoigne or Jacko from Brush Strokes; happy-go-lucky types who seemed to have a healthy grasp on the fact that life was absurd and none of us had much control over its outcomes, so we all might as well have a laugh. It wasn’t an ideal dogma to live by (Gazza was a drunk with a record of domestic abuse) but I feel as if it was slightly sunnier, at least. It was certainly less bitter, angry and aggressive.

It was also more human. By having a sense of our own irrelevance – a healthy notion of how fleeting and pointless life is – we were able to enjoy the moment. Growing up, I didn’t really feel as if I was in an earnest contest against other boys to be the best, the toughest, the richest or the smartest. And I didn’t see women as  some sort of rival tribe who needed to be conquered or cajoled either. 

But the Tate outlook is about all of those things. It is a warped interpretation of Darwinism, wherein the strongest survive and all of us are in constant conflict. Not only is this scientifically inaccurate (evolutionary winners are the ones who learn to work together, not against each other) it is so unforgivably dull and joyless. Think about the best times you had at school: I bet you were laughing with your mates in all of them. You could sit through 100 hours of Tate and his followers on TikTok or YouTube and not see any of them laugh once.

It’s such a shame that the world has become so serious. You know who I blame? People. Before the internet, we weren’t all exposed to the billions of other humans all over the world with their strange ideas, irritating habits or horrible opinions. Now, we get that stuff force-fed to us every day. No wonder young people are so angry and frustrated and confused. They are exposed constantly to a tsunami of human failing. The likes of Andrew Tate deliver a simplistic and palatable strategy for navigating their way through the shit. He’s a plain old grifter and young, male dickheads are his low-hanging fruit.

It’s nice that Labour recognise the problem, at least. But if we really want our kids to stop being groomed by online wankers, we just need to teach them to start laughing at things – starting with themselves.

Read more from Sam Delaney here.

Sort your head out book cover

Sort Your Head Out: Mental Health Without All the Bollocks by Sam Delaney is out now (Constable £18.99)You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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