X Close

Laurence Fox meets Andrew Tate: a taste of things to come

Masculinity representatives Andrew Tate and Laurence Fox. Credit: Rumble

October 2, 2023 - 1:00pm

It was perhaps inevitable that the defenestration of Laurence Fox should have attracted the attention of Andrew Tate. Fox became last week’s Current Thing, when he was suspended from GB News after saying of PoliticsJOE writer Ava Evans “who’d want to shag that?” As “cancellation” only ever really means “departing for a more congenial filter bubble”, no one should be surprised to find Fox in the media orbit of a man who built a cam-girl empire and social media career on the premise that women are objects.

Yesterday, I tuned into the Rumble livestream, in which these two titans of contemporary masculinity pooled their woes. I don’t recommend it; perhaps the kindest thing I can say about the fug of woolly thinking, machismo, self-pity, and sexual ressentiment on display is that it wasn’t really appropriate for mixed company. 

But this is precisely the point: I’m emphatically not the intended audience for such content. The engine of internet virality is (figuratively) listening at the door while social circles you don’t belong to talk among themselves. Then, when you hear an opinion that was never meant for you, the fun lies in loudly experiencing horror, outrage, derision, disgust et cetera — and sending the opinion on so others can do the same. 

Canny internet operators know this. The ones that attain household-name status generally have a knack for saying things that energise their base while also being both legible and infuriating to outsiders. When someone beyond their intended audience gets wind of it the influencer is borne aloft on the viral winds of internet outrage. Tate is a master at this, but there are many others. 

The opinions themselves don’t need to be internally coherent, at least not beyond the brief clips that lend themselves to viral transmission. In the Tate/Fox transmission last night, for example, it was agreed both that women are better than men at looking after children, but also that it’s not fair that women get custody of children in a majority of divorce cases, which is evidence that our way of life is now rigged against men. Should women be treated as having a special facility for care and nurturing, or not? The product on offer here isn’t a coherent worldview, but a habit of mind. 

None of this would matter were these figures minor characters in a discourse otherwise dominated by the kind of reasoned discussion and truth-seeking the original digital utopians envisaged. But they aren’t, not least because the utopians were wrong. Despite being regularly evicted by one platform after another, Tate has 1.64 million subscribers on Rumble, and his livestream with Fox has enjoyed over 679,000 views since yesterday. Fox has been on numerous other podcasts since insulting Ava Evans on telly. Broadcast and legacy media have joined the feeding frenzy. 

Next week the Current Thing will be something else. But this is how the mass-emotion industry works: influencers sell their in-group mindset, while also trading off the pleasurable outrage this induces in their out-group. Even, or perhaps especially, political phenomena with serious real-world implications are now routinely subject to the Current Thing dynamic: a far from exhaustive list in recent years might include Covid lockdowns, vaccinations, BLM, asylum policy, and how to respond to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

And though it’s a point I’ve made before, it bears repeating: in the digital, post-literate context this is very difficult to avoid. There are only weak incentives to pursue objectivity, compromise, reconciliation, or truth, and strong ones to gain reach on rage-bait and context collapse. There’s no going back to a print-first culture, short of unplugging the internet. Just today Gillian Keegan announced that smartphones are to be banned in schools, which is a start.

But if we’re to maintain any kind of functional social fabric with it still plugged in, my hunch is that we’ll need to develop a stronger collective immune response to the kind of fast-flowing digital hysteria that drives Current Thing feeding frenzies.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

moveincircles

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

40 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike Downing
Mike Downing
9 months ago

I agree with most of the article, but it’s totally one-sided and would just point out that the ‘victim’ in all this, Ava Evans, is likewise delighted with all the hysterical attention. She must be ready for a rest cure after all the media appearances she’s made off the back of it.

Furthermore, she herself has repeatedly used phrases like ‘I wouldn’t shag you, mate’ online. So the idea that now she’s afraid for her life doesn’t elicit in me any desire to empathise and ‘feel her pain’.

Apparently, she’s also previously suggested (in jest ?) that it’s ok for women to make bogus rape claims to terrify men into raping women less.

Fox is obviously not worth the bother, but I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s just a professional man-hater who deserves what she gets.

If you can’t stand the heat etc.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Precisely the comment I was going to post.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

That’s not the impression I have of this at all. She looks visibly uncomfortable in all the media appearances following this and nowhere (as a listener of the politicsjoe podcast she’s on) have I heard her say ‘I wouldn’t shag you, mate’ (ps even if she had, the direct, between-friends context that phrase implies is not comparable to the context in which Fox used similar language).
Neither have I heard her say women can make bogus rape claims She merely said that greater male caution in sexual advances towards women is sensible (which many commentators on here, including the author of the article would agree with).
And as to summing her up as a man-hater, most of her journalism is on government policy and trade union disputes, where she gives (the mainly male-comprised) unions a far fairer hearing than most of the media. So actually, far from being a man-hater, she does more for ordinary men than most people.

Last edited 9 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

I watched the panel program in which Evans condescendingly dismissed the very reasonable assertion that men’s state of mental health deserves attention and “ministering”. She was obnoxious. Fox was disgusted by her misandry. So was I. She is the same ilk as Cathy Newman.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

But a hatched job is still a hatched job and this was a hatchet job. Regardless of what you feel about Mr Fox the whole thing was a charade with the media treating as unadulterated truth Ms Evans claims to be appalled by the comments and in fear for her life.
By rights Ms Evans should now be cancelled

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
9 months ago

“cancellation” only ever really means “departing for a more congenial filter bubble”

I find this minimisation of the impact of cancellation distasteful.
For ordinary people, without devoted followers to fall back on, it can mean ruin.
Even for the likes of Laurence Fox, Russell Brand, James Delingpole, Toby Young, and Tucker Carlson, cancellation means lost income and lost influence.
If being turfed off GB News was good for Laurence Fox, you’d expect him to have left of his own accord long ago.

malcolm nicholson
malcolm nicholson
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

It’s precisely the “being turfed off” that’s good for him. Had he left, nobody would have noticed, or cared.

N Satori
N Satori
9 months ago

Why it seems like only yesterday that any man reckless enough to suggest that “…that women are better than men at looking after children” or that “…women be treated as having a special facility for care and nurturing…” would be denounced by feminists for outdated and sexist profiling of women [“Huh! That’s just how men would like women to be” come the indignant cry].
When the ground ishifts so quickly (and opportunistically) it’s quite difficult to keep up.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
9 months ago

I support the Current Thing!

R Wright
R Wright
9 months ago

Down with this sort of Thing.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
9 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Careful Now!

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
9 months ago

An excellent article. I am not familiar with either controversy ( other than seeing Laurence Fox in ” Gosford Park” and an episode of Foyles War).
Yet, is this crisis rooted in two trends of the present day- one of masculinity in the West; or one of mandatory rudeness in social media in language which in my day was dubbed as the type which would make ” a sailor blush”?

Last edited 9 months ago by Sayantani Gupta Jafa
David Harris
David Harris
9 months ago

So you’re quite happy that the only examples given are those the author disagrees with. No mention of the Left wing, woke ‘mass emotion industry’?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
9 months ago
Reply to  David Harris

Indeed reading the comments has given me some context.
I do not know why Mary has not touched on more examples. And I would have expected her to have cited the unreasonable invective of Ava Evans to provide a more accurate backdrop of LF’s rant.
Again confirms to me that a lot of the present hysteria emanating from the Left and being reacted upon by the personages mentioned is due to the inability to conduct a polite discussion minus name- calling and linguistic excess- maybe fuelled by the nature of social media platforms.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
9 months ago

Fox is the rather privileged son of a rebel actor who would like to be the next Nigel Farage; Tate is from a single-mother household who pulled himself up by the bootstraps by becoming a fighter.
It’s the difference between Pink Floyd and Tupac Shakur, although both of those were of the Far Left. Of course, Tate is far more dangerous in knowing how. The international liberal establishment would like to take him down like Assange and Snowden, and they’ve shown how easy that is with Mr Brand.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
9 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

Defending Andrew Tate is so on brand for you!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago

I got it. You are billy Bragg.
Can I have my fiver?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
9 months ago

Why have you denied Guardian readers your wisdom?

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
9 months ago

There is nothing to call between Laurence Fox and Ava Evans. Both are tasteless character acts, with Evans laughing at male suicide while encouraging schoolgirls and female undergraduates to do their bit for the Cause by making false allegations of sexual assault. She cannot be in earnest. Can she?

Meanwhile, Andrew and Tristan Tate are free to wander the streets at will while charged with rape, human trafficking, and forming an organised crime group. You do not have to like the Tates, or even to take them seriously, to be able to see when prosecuting authorities have realised that they have no case and are now just trying to work out how to save face. I am sure that I could stand no more than a few seconds in the company of Andrew Tate, but I cannot imagine that the United States would allow a white liberal American citizen to be treated as he has been, and I have said from the very start that I would not be at all surprised if little or nothing ended up coming of this.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago

“… for example, it was agreed both that women are better than men at looking after children, but also that it’s not fair that women get custody of children in a majority of divorce cases, which is evidence that our way of life is now rigged against men. “

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
9 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The word i’m surprised about in this quote is “now” – as if something had changed recently in either our perception of the female propensity for childcare or the way courts make decisions around childcare.

Last edited 9 months ago by Steve Murray
Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

but things have changed…albeit gradually. the feminist movement has been chipping away for a long time and has brought in the idea that man and woman should share equally the task of bringing up the child.
This idea fails because maternity leave is much longer than paternity leave (in general) so the woman has that key, precious time to complete the bonding process. if I said that men and women should share the work, everyone would agree. if I said that men and women should share equally the maternity/paternity leave, there would be howls of derision and much anger.
What if a woman in a family has the main job but the man wants her to share equally the task of child care. There are arguments and both step away from the job at the critical time, leaving the child unprepared for the world. ask any primary teacher about the number of children who start school without potty training.
For a separation somebody has to leave the family home. I feel that the courts would give custody to whoever lived in the family home because the child needs needs a home. but the man seems to be the leaver – why is that? Possibly because the woman still takes total responsibility for choosing the make-up of the home – soft furnishings etc.
Really, to make things truly equal, there should be a sharing of the maternity/paternity leave.

Rae Ade
Rae Ade
9 months ago

There is. You can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between you.

You need to share the pay and leave in the first year after your child is born or placed with your family.

You can use SPL to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work, or take it all in one go.

H H
H H
9 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Surely we need to move away from this idea that women are “better” at caring for children than men. Clearly men and women care for children differently, and this should not be considered controversial. The role of the mother is primary in the early years, especially if she is a breastfeeding mum. In Ireland families receive a home visit from a public health nurse soon after giving birth. Our family was visited by a very elderly nurse who instructed my husband to “take care of your wife so that she can take care of the baby.” This advice sounds terribly old-fashioned but it made absolute sense. I don’t know how I would have coped without his support and love in those early days of motherhood.

Elizabeth Hamilton
Elizabeth Hamilton
9 months ago
Reply to  H H

HH, a long time ago, I read somewhere that in traditional Japan, children of both sexes were mainly confided to their mothers until age 7 at which time boys were confided to their fathers. There were reasons for that which are probably worth exploring with an open mind.

H H
H H
9 months ago

That makes a lot of sense Elizabeth. The psychologist Steve Biddulph talks about this in his wonderful book, “Raising Boys.” He writes that between the ages of six and fourteen, a boy’s father counts most. One of the things which I learnt from reading this book was that it’s very important as a mother to know when to get out of the way, and not to intervene every time my boys get into an argument or play rough. In recent times there has been a move towards pathologizing very normal male behaviours and medicating boys who cannot conform. Having previously worked as a secondary school teacher I could very quickly spot the unfathered boys. This might sound awfully corny, but I heard someone say recently that it takes a father to find the man inside a boy. I think it’s true.

Last edited 9 months ago by H H
Cheryl Zacharias
Cheryl Zacharias
8 months ago
Reply to  H H

Raising Boys is an excellent book. It was briefly popular when it was still ok to acknowledge all the psycho-biological research that shows important differences between boys and girls and mothers and fathers for optimal human well being.

Elizabeth Hamilton
Elizabeth Hamilton
9 months ago

“Ressentiment” is the perfect word to describe so many of the complaints one hears about women coming from the manosphere where the themes Mary cites –that women are better at taking care of children but it’s unfair they are so often accorded custody and child support payments in cases of divorce– are mainstays. Though ressentiment does have its place, such spheres are no place to go looking for serious thought on how men and women might best collaborate in the all-important project of raising our children, the future.

Dominic A
Dominic A
9 months ago

Indeed – and it works both way: many women have resented men’s success without realising what they sacrificed to achieve it. (I’m not saying that is always the case, or even the norm).

j watson
j watson
9 months ago

‘Stronger collective immune’ response -i.e: basically don’t get so worked up about marginal nonsense flowing through cyberspace.
Hmm I wonder if we’ll see that reaction on Unherd about Trans or some other marginal nonsense, or even the dial down indignation from the Author on certain subjects?
But also should we let 1.6m of listeners to misogynistic tripe rattle around in an echo chamber without listening to an alternative perspective? Were it of little or no potential harm probably just ignore a good strategy. If it fuels abusive behaviour then perhaps a different matter? These are dilemmas without simple solutions. I’m not in favour of cancellation unless someone is inciting violence, but I do think right to reply and having to accommodate a challenge to test one’s views important.
I think the Author struggled a bit here. She knows these two appendages quite a virus among some young men but she underplays the potential consequences.

Last edited 9 months ago by j watson
David Harris
David Harris
9 months ago

As usual the only examples given are those the author disagrees with. No mention of the Left wing, woke ‘mass emotion industry’. Quelle surprise.

Graham Bennett
Graham Bennett
9 months ago
Reply to  David Harris

You misunderstand Mary if you think this. She has as much criticism for the left as anyone else. That’s what makes her such a brilliant heterodox thinker and commentator. Get to know her writing and you’ll see.

Last edited 9 months ago by Graham Bennett
Lynwen Brown
Lynwen Brown
9 months ago

Fox is an actor. He should have been allowed to continue to act. Instead he has had every possible roll taken away from him because he has wrong think. Now instead of acting he’s become a social commentator, a roll he’s not best placed for and the people who denied him the jobs he should have been doing are outraged by the roll he’s created for himself. Looks like an own goal.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
9 months ago

I midunderestimated the headline, seeing as they just said ‘Andrew’, and thought it’d be one of those ‘wouldn’t shag that’ vs ‘would’ discussions.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
9 months ago

Laurence Fox isn’t cool or edgy, he’s a bellend.

Dominic A
Dominic A
9 months ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

He’s one urethra short of a bellend.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
9 months ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

Not moving in homosexual circles, I had to look up “bellend.” You can get quite an education these days.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
9 months ago

Two fine examples of conservative thinking. Add in the p*ssy-grabber-in-chief and you’ve got the trifecta.
You must be very proud….

Elizabeth Hamilton
Elizabeth Hamilton
9 months ago

Champagne socialist, “thinking”? What are you talking about?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
9 months ago

He’s a paid troll or a tragically lonely man. Both, most likely. No need to feed.