Cult Leaders, Masculinity, and White Supremacy on YouTube: The Case of Stefan Molyneux: The Truth About Stef

Daniël Hans Marinus Jurg, Maximilian Schlüter, Marc Tuters

Research output: Other contribution


Since 2013, the internet has seen a rise in reactionary counter-culture, from radical anonymous collectives on fringe message boards such as 4Chan to alternative right-wing opinion leaders and micro-celebrities on mainstream social media platforms (Nagle, 2017; Hawley, 2017; Donovan et al., 2020). Around 2018, YouTube, in particular, served as an important place for new right-wing ideological entrepreneurs to build and sell audiences on reactionary ideo yu logy (Lewis, 2018, 2019, 2020). The ultimate danger of this reactionary “counter-culture” became apparent in 2019 when 51 people were killed during a terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. After a thorough investigation, the New Zealand Royal Commission concluded that YouTube played an important role in the shooters’ radicalization process. For instance, he consumed the content of white supremacist and alleged cult leader Stefan Molyneux and made donations to his channel. Molyneux was also identified by The New York Times as a particularly dangerous right-wing ideological entrepreneur who fulfills and performs the role of an authentic, harsh but fair male “father figure” for young audiences (see Roose, 2019). According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, people like Molyneux operate like cult leaders. They perform roles of traditional masculinity (Connel & Messerschmidt, 2005), who “speaks the truth as it is,” without sugar coating it – or as Ben Shapiro’s catchphrase suggests: “facts do not care about your feelings.” This suggests that through the portrayal of such traditional masculinity in the form of a “stern father figure,” the logic of self-help (self-improvement) and reactionary ideology are inherently linked together through the logic of patriarchal and racist hegemonic thought, as is implicit in traditional homohysteric masculinities (Anderson, 2009). This project aims to understand how the logic of masculinity and white supremacy operates within a YouTube influencer culture where audiences develop intimate relationships with content creators.
Original languageEnglish
TypeCult Leaders, Masculinity, and White Supremacy on YouTube: The Case of Stefan Molyneux
Media of outputWiki
PublisherDigital Methods Initiative
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • YouTube
  • White supremacy
  • Stefan Molyeneux
  • Audiences
  • Comments
  • Digital Methods

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