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Through the alt-right pipeline, it is easy for people to get exposed to the politics of the manosphere, even other content creators. Hearing non-political content creators promote manosphere talking points is usually either a case of grifting or pure internal misogyny. Regardless, the current rise of alt-right and manosphere politics into other mainstream, seemingly apolitical media will be explored in part two. Read part one.
The Spillover of Alt-Right and Manosphere Politics into other Mainstream Media
Perhaps the most contemporary and scary development of the alt-right/manosphere are the creators who seemingly have nothing to do with the movement or politics, but still espouse the same hateful rhetoric to their young male audiences.
Akademiks is an enormously popular hip-hop commentator with 5.2 million Instagram followers that has oddly dabbled in the same talking points of the alt-right.
Millions of people have tuned into his videos and Twitch streams, but they will be now flocking to Rumble as Akademiks signed a new deal with the video service. However, Rumble isn’t just another YouTube alternative, the company’s entire ethos is reflective of the alt-right’s—a resistance against “wokeness” and political correctness. Rumble prides itself on being transgressive; they offered exclusive deals to platform Andrew Tate for the sake of fighting against cancel culture.
According to Pew Research Center, around 75% of Rumble’s users identify as Republican or Republican-adjacent. This comes as no surprise because Rumble is a platform that allows homophobic, transphobic, racist, misogynistic and misinformed content to flourish under the guise of “freedom of speech.” In a press release addressing his Rumble deal, Akademiks explained that he felt that platforms such as Twitch didn’t value their creators, but the deal also signifies Akademiks’ association with Rumble’s right wing ethos.
With this new deal, Akademiks finds himself aligned with conservative superstars like Donald Trump Jr on the video streaming platform. It’s safe to assume that fans of Akademiks will be coming to Rumble for his content, but there is nothing stopping those same fans from viewing and being influenced by the omnipresence of far-right-wing content on Rumble.
Another example is Adin Ross, a streamer with over 2.2 million followers on Twitter who has transitioned from content on NBA 2K to platforming neo-nazis and manosphere creators on his streams.
Ross’ pinned tweet on Twitter from 2020 showcases him playing NBA 2K with LeBron James’ son, Bronny James, but three years later he shares some of his streams with Nick Fuentes. Fuentes is a proud white nationalist, incel, and neo-nazi livestreamer who seeks to radicalize traditional conservatives further into the alt-right pipeline. Fuentes has become synonymous with former president Trump’s “Stop The Steal Movement” and the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina, which left three people dead and more than 49 injured from white supremacist violence.
Ross has platformed Fuentes on multiple occasions and considers him a friend, exposing Fuentes’ harmful dialogue to his young male viewers that he originally attracted through video games. Ross is also a friend of Andrew Tate and Tate has appeared on Ross’ streams on multiple occasions offering blatantly misogynistic relationship advice in front of thousands of viewers.
Following Tate’s arrest, Ross has aggressively maintained Tate’s innocence and seemingly has become a reflection of Tate’s views. Some speculate that Ross looks up to Tate because of the violent hyper-masculine figure that he projects, which is why Ross’ content is now infected with alt-right politics. In the months since his interactions with Tate and Fuentes, Ross has transformed himself from a gamer to a streamer with absurd, random right-wing outbursts. In retaliation for his ban from Twitch, Ross tweeted blatant transphobia, “There are only two genders.”
In a stream voicing his discontent with another different Twitch ban, Ross parrots typical right-wing talking points by asking, “if I had blue hair and did my makeup, would you have banned me, Twitch?” With a question like this, Ross utilizes stale, typical, right-wing stereotypes of “social justice warriors” to victimize himself against a perceived “woke” agenda from Twitch.
Ross’ exposure to right-wing extremism has sent him down a rabbit hole and one should worry about how the current state of his streams are exposing impressionable boys to alt-right politics.
The Antithesis To Alt-Right Content Creation: “BreadTube”
If right wing extremists can exploit the technological advances of algorithms for the radicalization of young men, it is only right to ask what the left can offer as opposition to the alt-right pipeline.
What already exists is “Breadtube,” which is a loose network of left-leaning channels on YouTube that seek to infiltrate right-wing algorithms by flooding it with content for deradicalization.
It is rare that Breadtube engages in the promotion of liberal politics; these channels are typically rooted in anti-capitalism, at least ostensibly. Breadtube operates under the understanding that engaging with left-wing politics can be daunting sometimes.
If one’s form of learning is strictly through reading leftist theory, it is easy to become overwhelmed and tired at some points. Breadtube seeks to repackage leftist politics into a more palatable, theatrical and sometimes comedic format.
One of the originators of Breadtube is Natalie Wynn, better known by her YouTube channel, Contrapoints. Wynn has garnered over 1.6m subscribers on YouTube proudly advocating for a socialist revolution through videos both philosophical and comedic in approach.
Contrapoints, like other Breadtube creators, embraces a commitment to not hear both sides, but instead explain why the alt-right ideology is laughable in comparison to left-wing politics. Wynn’s videos are created in a video essay format that exhibits a clear dedication to presentation through her flamboyant makeup looks and lively outfits.
For many, watching Contrapoint’s videos is a refreshing take on socialist education when reading theory becomes monotonous.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Wynn spoke on the political environment that her YouTube channel exists on:
“Sometimes imagine a hypothetical nineteen-year-old boy looking for answers,” Wynn said. “He knows that life in this late-capitalist wasteland feels off, that something in his life is missing. What’s he going to find on YouTube that can explain that void to him? Well, there’s mainstream stuff, which he’s likely to tune out. And then there’s a whole lot of Fascist alt-right propaganda and Alex Jones-style nut-baggery. And then there’s me.”
Alongside Wynn in the fight against online fascist propaganda is Hasan Piker, also known by his screen name, HasanAbi. Piker is a socialist streamer whose streams focus on political and cultural commentary, while also dabbling into gaming and “react” content. He is undoubtedly one of, if not, the most popular socialist figure in contemporary internet culture.
In 2020, Piker collaborated with Alexandria Oscasio Cortes (AOC) and Pokimane to stream Among Us and promote youth voter turnout for the 2020 election. The “AOC stream” is currently the third most viewed Twitch stream of all time and it marks a moment in which boomer politicians were exposed to the depths of internet culture as a means to promote youth engagement in politics.
As a mechanism for deradicalization for those targeted by the alt-right, Breadtube has done an honorable job. A quick look at the comments section of Contrapoints, HasanAbi and other Breadtube creators will showcase anecdotes from viewers about how they escaped alt-right rabbit holes through their socialist content creation.
One key aspect to remember about Breadtube and online leftism, in general, is that it’s not the only answer to solve the problems that the alt-right has created. The consumption of online leftist content creation is often a supplement to developing a revolutionary ideology. It is rarely hailed as a replacement for studying theory or historical socialist figures. Like other forms of internet activism, it’s not a replacement for grassroots organizing and creating community in the real world.
BreadTube has its shortcomings and its cultural significance in comparison to the alt-right is debatable. Despite Breadtube’s honorable mission, some critiques have been centered around how Breadtube, nor the YouTube algorithm, doesn’t shine a light on its non-White creators.
Youtuber “F.D.Signifier” released a video in 2022 titled “Break Bread,” tracing the history and exposing the weaknesses of Breadtube from the lens of being a cis-hetero Black man in the space.
One of the theses of Break Bread is that YouTube’s AI algorithms lack the ability to project leftist content from the Black perspective, for Black people, to the masses. F.D Signifer expands on this thesis by explaining that Black people looking for educational content on YouTube are typically funneled into rabbit holes of White-dominated content creators.
As a result, Black leftist educational content is either segregated from a Breadtube algorithm or they become a tokenized member of the White-dominated Breadtube.
F.D Signifier’s criticisms of Breadtube in “Break Bread” is one of many videos that showcases its flaws—even leftist presence on internet culture is not immune to underlying racism.
A double standard exists: White creators talking about issues that disproportionately harm Black creators get far more attention than Black creators talking about those same Black issues.
The politics and inner workings of the alt-right exposes the paradigm shift of how misogyny and White nationalism are brought to the mainstream in the internet era.
Not only are these chauvinistic creators being allowed on social media, but they are being empowered through relentless, soulless, algorithms that fail to detect extremism.
The alt-right’s path of destruction is already documented and is continuing—think about the 2017 Charlottesville tragedy at the hands of White nationalists.
The recklessness of social media platforms and their algorithms bear much of the blame for this path of destruction. They have made right-wing extremism accessible to the masses and the alt-right uses this to their advantage.
Calls for deplatforming hateful creators are often perceived as violations of freedom of speech, but what should be taken far more seriously is that the spread of alt-right ideology has already resulted in violence and casualties.
The alt-right not only feels like, but is a force that liberalism is ill-equipped to handle, which may explain why Breadtube creators are so often far-left, or at least they claim to be. The alt-right partially relies on capitalism to make men ripe for radicalization, therefore liberalism is useless because it is a political ideology that promotes capitalism wholeheartedly.
Thus, rejection of the alt-right is inevitably tied to the rejection of not only patriarchy and White supremacy, but capitalism as well. The alt-right is a perfect example of showing how these systems of oppression work together in protecting the status quo. Material conditions for the masses won’t get better by embracing or strengthening these systems, but instead tearing them down all together.