August 24, 2022

Tate Modern

Despite the temptation to label the misogynistic, abusive and downright dangerous attitudes towards women held by Andrew Tate as “Neanderthal”, his views are quite modern. Very modern actually.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Tate. Well google him. He’s a US/Brit celebrity who was once kicked off Britain’s Big Brother when a video of him beating a woman with a belt was uncovered. He claimed consent by the way. He’s a kickboxer too, so perhaps she got off lightly with him.

But if you are looking for Tate, don’t search for his personal accounts on TikTok or Facebook or Instagram, he’s been cancelled from all of those as of all of five minutes ago. But his millions of followers who have shared billions of views of his views will be harder to scrub from the collective consciousness.

As you can see from the photo above, Tate is living the dream. Living the modern dream of being independently wealthy and experiencing the ultimate version of “You Do You”, the highest calling in the land (in the Western land at least). Cars and girls. Wasn’t it ever thus?!

Tate is the modern day Hugh Hefner stripped of all of the glamorous veneer. Mind you, with Hefner now dead and the Playboy Mansion girls free to talk, this veneer is proving to be extremely thin indeed. It was simply hiding the same misogyny Tate now holds.

But the modern Tate knows that when it comes to crafting a sophisticated gentleman-of-the-world approach to sexuality – an enlightened unsuppressed new way of seeing things and seeing women as things, well shoot, ain’t nobody got time for all that veneer. No! Tate cuts to the chase. And has led a generation of boys – yep many of them are boys – to learn to cut to the chase too. Articles in the Australian media this past week revealed that high schools are noting his influence on their male students.

And if you’re an adult or a parent reading this, then don’t say “He can’t be important, I’ve never heard of him.” Surely we’re past that stage by now. Surely adults know that influencers are the new institutions. Ask the young men around you if they know of him. I bet they do.

Before we say some stuff about how did it get to this, and how did Tate get banned from all the platforms, here’s an array (which I’m going to link to, but not quote) of Tate’s very modern wisdom for a very modern world of human relationships.

Though I will quote this, cos it’s a doozy:

“I have everything every man has ever dreamed of. I got a big mansion, I got a super cars, I can live anywhere I want, I got unlimited women, I go where I want… I do anything I want all the time. So, I’m an amazing role model.”

And clearly he is. Clearly he’s the dream of many a young man given how many follow him. Or perhaps they follow him because he’s saying what they feel they want to say and be, but know that’s both transgressive and out of their reach anyways. Either way, just realise this, you know that aggressive, pumped up man in a “doof-doof” car giving you the finger as he cuts you off in traffic, having just coming out of the gym in his drippy gear? There’s a chance he’s looking at Tate and saying that’s my ideal. Think not? Argue with his billion figure view count, not me.

Or what about this (if you can mind the language):

“Everyone, when they get that application form from God… would tick tall, strong, smart, mentally tough, doesn’t cry, gets p*ssy, rich, they’d tick all the things they tell me I’m bad… All the assets I have.”

Sounds a bit like a Nebuchadnezzar type doesn’t he? Wonder how this thing will work out?

Well faced with the lack of any god-type figure or any view of transcendence at all, the social media platforms assumed that role and smote him with a great smiting. They cancelled him. Which is all just a precursor to what the last day of his life will do to him. Sadly on the last day God might say:

“Pity you missed the box at the top of the application: ‘humble and contrite of heart'”.

Now for many of us from a particular vintage, Tate would be an object of amusement – an X-rated and extremely polished mash up of James Bond and Austin Powers, if he were not so dangerous. But he’s only dangerous because for many young men it would seem that he’s the most viable model of manliness that is being put on the table for them.

Here we are in our modern West kicking up all sorts of dust about what a woman actually is, and who gets to be one, and quietly behind the scenes the likes of Tate are building huge armies of followers, by saying this is what a man is. And oh the irony that both of those arguments are being controlled by men!

When it comes to what a woman is, the most vociferous voices are also men – regardless of how they identify. Tate has a lot in common with the trans ideologues on Twitter, because when pesky women speak their minds – either blonde young things who date Tate or robust, fiercely intellectual women such as JK Rowling who challenge the ideologues – they’ve got this one thing in common – a good stern beating is the answer.

Perhaps it seems a little confusing to the average man who identifies as a man that when a man who identifies as a woman wishes to wail on a woman that’s okay, while when a man who clearly pitches himself as the epitome of manliness does so, well that’s cancellation. But then again, no one’s ever accused social media platforms of consistency have they?

Of course every media outlet under the sun has a diagnosis and a cure for Tate Modern. It’s because young men haven’t been given enough education about women and consent etc. Actually, they probably have, and in fact they could probably pass the exam. But like all exams you say what you need to say to get by and then go off and do what you actually want to do. Which is why so many posh, well-heeled schools are constantly surprised at the trauma their young women often endure at the hands of – along with other body parts – their young men.

What was surprising/not surprising was the roll out of articles by women from a more progressive stance, who are saying enough is enough, and that it’s high time we got to the stage where women didn’t commit to a relationship with a man unless he had his junk sorted out, had signed a contract declaring his intentions and would be a provider for her if she had children. Well hello traditional marriage!

It’s a long way back to there from the “consent” model in which the only safety brake is whether she said “yes”, and even then we’re down to letting the courts decide that one. What a mess.

Where does such longing – one that seems both ironic and pitifully naive – come from in the progressive set that has junked the Christian frame? In an ahistorical age such as ours, anything that happened before the Sexual Revolution is either a blur, or of no significance. So where is it from? It surely a cry of the heart, isn’t it? There’s a certain sadness – and a tendency towards Schadenfreude if one is not careful – hearing the more progressive voices admit that perhaps the Sexual Revolution didn’t do anything at all for women. Or didn’t do anything that makes up for this. And by this I mean Tate Modern.

Sky News had a different angle. As Daisy Cousens writes:

Given the disdain for men and boys that has permeated popular culture for the past several years, and the lack of traditionally masculine role models, it’s hardly surprising adolescent boys are gravitating towards uber-macho Tate.

Cousens then goes on to describe that most unfortunate incident at a Melbourne school recently in which the boys were made to stand up during an assembly on rape culture and apologise to the girls in the school. Yep, even the nerdy kid with glasses who hides out in the library playing chess. I mean, why does he sacrifice his queen first, every time?

Cousens is in effect saying that boys have decided that if you’ve been condemned already, and the gallows are beckoning, then you might as well go out swinging. Expectations are low. Why not meet them and have a good time on the way out?

The problem of course is that Cousens is seeing the problem with no real offering of a solution. Traditionally masculine role models come in all shapes and sizes, and for huge swathes of history, Andrew Tate’s attitudes would be a traditionally masculine role model. He would certainly have gotten plenty of high fives and “right ons” among the Roman ruling class of men for whom power was the deciding factor. And come to think of it, Vladimir Putin is just Andrew Tate thirty five years on, with a whole country of women to dominate. Cousens is missing what is staring her in the face.

We don’t need a traditional masculine role model. We need a gospel masculine role model. Role models.

Having just read Glen Scrivener’s excellent new book The Air We Breathe: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress and Equality, I thoroughly recommend his take on how much changed when the gospel came onto the scene. His subtitle is instructive because it reveals that the post-Christian ache for those qualities is thoroughly Christian, even while it turns its face away from the gospel.

Scrivener draws heavily from Tom Holland and John Dickson in painting a picture of seismic social change brought about by the gospel. A change that our progressive culture wants, while all the while refusing the conditions that brought it about. Don’t like Tate? Then push this thing out another thirty or forty years and he’ll be considered by then to be one of the the nerd boys he so clearly despises.

Here’s the bad news for our progressive culture which abhors Tate, but whose very mantra “You Do You” can’t bear the heat and light of its logical conclusion. The culture didn’t create Tate, it just gave him the soil, the pot, and the fertiliser to flourish. That’s the thing with a well tended garden, the weeds get fed too.

Of course I’m not going to say that you can’t be a wonderful role model as a man outside of being a Christian. But the things that our culture cherishes as role model behaviour in men? Those things are inherently Christian. The gospel meant freedom and liberty and dignity for slaves, women and children. In other words, the people Tate despises. Have a read through Tate’s mantras. He cannot abide the weak. He sees weakness as a moral failure. The gospel came to the weak at a time when the traditional male role model looked in many instances, a whole lot like Andrew Tate.

Our masculine role model? Jesus surely. And those who imitate Jesus to the point that they can say in the midst of a culture that is every bit like Tate, ‘Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

There’s a deep irony when Pilate has Jesus up there in his quarters, presenting him to the baying crowd. What does he say?

“Behold the man!”

If only he knew! There he is mocking the one true model of masculinity that defies tradition. The one true model of masculinity who is exactly what a man God intended a man to be: someone who would put his interests aside for the sake of others, especially others who cannot help themselves. Pilate speaks beyond what he knows. Here is the new Adam standing before him, the new king who is charged with stewarding and ruling the world, and how does he do it? Through sacrifice and restraining his power and rights.

Men who follow in his footsteps are all sorts of masculine: beefy or slight; quiet or loud; rugged or bookish (sometimes both); MMA tragics or chess players; single or married; heterosexual or same sex attracted. That’s the beauty of being masculine in a Jesus sorta way. The possibilities are endless.

For the Tate Moderns of this age? Not so much. Ironically when Tate posts a picture and says “Behold the man” standing next to a hot woman or a hot car or standing on a hot beach, he reduces manliness to bland monochrome, drained from all the colour that Jesus gives to manliness. When Jesus is presented as the quintessential man on the way to the cross, he opens up a kaleidoscope of manly options beyond anything a Tate (now scrubbed) Instagram pic can do. In fact a Christian community of men who are manly like Jesus sounds like the perfect place for women to hang out and be who God thinks they are. And if your Christian community isn’t the perfect place for women to hang out, then perhaps the men are the problem!

But a community where men and women live like Jesus (cos yep, the gospel gave women a place of honour and meaning and purpose in the religious community that paganism never bestowed upon them)? Well that’s a stunning enough picture to hang in the Tate Modern.

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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