Andrew Tate: The Man Who Groomed the World? review – the revelations in this excellent exposé are a major coup | Andrew Tate

According to conventional logic, Andrew Tate – the Anglo-American kickboxer turned public misogynist currently awaiting trial in Romania on charges of rape and human trafficking – should not be this famous. How did a man whose biggest claim to fame before TikTok remains a six-day stint on the 2016 series of Big Brother become one of the world’s most Googled people?That’s the mystery “no one has figured out”, says investigative reporter Matt Shea at the start of his second BBC documentary on Tate – which is a bit strange considering he already told us how he did it minutes into his first film, The Dangerous Rise of Andrew Tate, which was screened in February. Alongside extensive interviews with Tate and women who claim to have been abused by him, Shea explains that the money-making courses Tate flogs online using his bombastic personality and glitzy lifestyle double as an “affiliate marketing” scheme. Subscribers flood social media with videos of Tate saying wildly sexist things, using the attention generated to convince others to sign up to his virtual school; if new subscribers use their link, they get 48% of the fee. In other words, Tate has created his own promotional army. That’s why Tate is everywhere.What Shea is trying to do in his follow-up film – Andrew Tate: The Man Who Groomed the World? – is find out who helped Tate orchestrate this. It’s a less flashy premise, but an incredibly important one – especially when the business in question is so nefarious. Shea homes in on the War Room, the most expensive tier of Tate’s online school, and using 12,000 pages of internal chats supplied by a helpful internet sleuth – in what looks like a real coup – reports that members are encouraged (or even pressured) to lure women into lucrative sex work and then take all their earnings. Shea manages to track down two of the women mentioned in the messages, and they provide extensive corroborative details. Tate’s ethos is not a return to old-school patriarchal ideals where women submit and men provide; this model of appallingly exploitative misogyny sees women submit and provide, too.Continually juxtaposed with these infuriating and disturbing revelations is the so-called humour Tate deals in. Since the first documentary was released, Tate has been obsessively mocking the superficially nervy but courageous journalist in his content, producing DNG (Dork, Nerd, Geek) T-shirts with Shea’s picture on them, and ensuring that Shea receives a personal email each time one is purchased. It’s not the only bit of wearisome banter on which Tate fixates: when Shea travels to Bucharest in an attempt to interview him again (he is under house arrest), Tate says he will only oblige if Shea presents him with a box of chocolates – a power play his followers are advised to use to ascertain whether a woman is easily manipulated.Tate delights in rejecting Shea’s dogged advances and you can’t help but wish the reporter would stop giving him the satisfaction. His repeated attempts to quiz Tate demonstrate that the production has been scrupulous in giving him the right to reply to some extremely serious allegations, but as material, it seems a waste of time: at this point, Tate’s internet presence and the women’s testimony tell you all you need to know about the man. Especially considering his modus operandi in previous interviews has been to adopt a faux-reasonable persona to argue his way out of the allegation that he is promoting violent misogyny, or take on the guise of an irony-saturated troll, leaving the promise of meaningful dialogue slipping like sand through a reporter’s fingers.Much more satisfying is the fact that Shea manages to pin down a key accomplice of Tate’s who has been flying firmly under the radar: a sixtysomething American known as Iggy Semmelweis, self-styled spiritual leader and “greatest hypnotist in the world”. This documentary suggests that Semmelweis is the “real mastermind of the War Room,” and used Tate (already a notorious misogynist who ran a business streaming sex shows) as a figurehead for his own enterprise.It’s impossible to believe the egomaniacal and sometimes scarily messianic Tate is anyone’s stooge. However, the leaked chat log suggests Semmelweis is particularly intent on getting War Room members to procure women for sex work. We also hear from a “family connection” who claims that he has a long-established involvement in cults and, according to Eli, a former War Room member who worked as head of sales and marketing for Tate, treats the business like one, too; employees are advised to cut ties with loved ones.Unlike Tate, Semmelweis doesn’t seem to be after fame or money and appears to live modestly in Los Angeles. So what is his agenda, Shea asks. “To take over the world, I guess,” Eli, the former member, replies matter-of-factly. Considering one statistic revealed in the film – in the UK, 52% of boys aged 16 to 17 have a positive view of Tate – this nightmarish vision of the future isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. But it’s also one that Shea’s excellent exposé has made just a little less likely. Andrew Tate: The Man Who Groomed the World? was shown on BBC Three and is available on iPlayer.

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