My original post follows:
It sounds a bit like one of those espionage novels he used to write: A former pickup guru known as Coach Red Pill, who had recently reinvented himself as a Ukraine war “reporter,” has apparently gone missing — and has either been arrested as a pro-Russian propagandist or just straight up executed, at least according to various rumors swirling on social media.
All we know so far is that he’s been quiet for three days. The former Coach Red Pill — real name Gonzalo Lira — had been pumping out pro-Russian propaganda online since the start of the Ukraine invasion, and his “broadcasts” were often cited by Russian government media. Some even suspect that he was actually a Russian spy. If so, he was not exactly doing a bang up job keeping himself out of the limelight, as spies (I thought) were supposed to do.
Reactions to his disappearance and possible death have been — how can I put it? — mixed. His fans see whatever has happened to him as an international scandal.
Some of his detractors, meanwhile, are having trouble containing their glee.
Others see it as a sort of karmic retribution for his sins against humanity.
Others aren’t convinced the rumors are true, suggesting that it would be completely in character for Lira to fake his own death.
Assuming the whole thing isn’t a hoax, what might have led to Lira’s current, well, situation? Some, instead of looking at Lira’s history of pro-Russian, er, reporting, have put the blame on a critical piece about him that ran on the Daily Beast last month. Indeed, Lira himself put out a video before his disappearance suggesting that if anything bad were to happen to him that the Beast would be to blame.
So what exactly did the Beast article say? The lengthy piece, by Mark Hay, attempts to explain, per the article’s title, “How a Sleazy American Dating Coach Became a Pro-Putin Shill in Ukraine.” It tracks Lira’s strange career and life trajectories from his years as a writer of (reportedly very bad) spy novels through his career as a “Red Pilled” dating coach and up to his stint as a pro-Russian video blogger living inside a country being attacked by the Russians.
I never paid much if any attention to Lira in his Coach Red Pill days. But from Hay’s description of his videos nothing about his “teachings” would come as a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time. His material, according to one expert Hay spoke with,
was steeped in old and reductive views on gender and society, as well as outright vile misogyny, often defended using “questionable interpretations of evolutionary psychology.”
In one video, Hay notes, the fiftysomething Lira told his followers to
“Never date a woman in her thirties” … He … argued that, “irrespective of what they claim they want,” all women only truly desire money, a house, and kids, as child-rearing is the one thing that will biologically validate them. That women who are still single and childless in their thirties have supposedly ignored that imperative in order to live the ‘hedonistic’ lifestyle that a “degenerate” Western culture pushes them towards, chasing the hottest 15 percent of guys for meaningless sex. And that when they hit their thirties, they all get “baby rabies,” but realize their looks are fading. (“It’s biology,” he said. “Women age badly. Men age like wine.”) So, they will all supposedly lie and connive to trick a man into marriage and a pregnancy, after which they’ll reveal their true faces.
Hay notes that for those unfamiliar with the manosphere,
Lira’s rapid transformation from a self-styled relationship expert to a small but prominent peddler of pro-Putin hot takes and conspiracies may seem bizarre.
In fact manospherans like Lira have long embraced far-right ideologies, with a particular fondness for Putin and other Russian opponents of contemporary values, frequently contrasting Russian traditionalism with the ideologies of the allegedly “degenerate” West.
But his relatively recent shift to pro-Russian propaganda may have been motivated less by ideology than by a search for fresh fans and fresh cash. As Hay puts it,
several observers The Daily Beast spoke to suggested that he might have adopted his new persona as an ostensibly neutral but in fact evidently pro-Russian commentator on the conflict because he saw a market for the Putin-praising viewpoint in the spaces he inhabited, and may have wanted a new hustle.
It’s not as if being a Russian propagandist is particularly difficult. One right-wing Youtuber told Hay, “I think he watches Russian news shows and then just copies what he sees there.”
But if there is or was little danger that Lira might strain his brain putting out pro-Russian “reporting,” there is or was the danger that he would piss off the Ukrainian government. Indeed, Lira himself claimed, as Hay notes,
that the Zelensky administration sent men to his home in Kharkiv to disappear him, but that he miraculously avoided them and was at least recently hiding out in an undisclosed location in the city.
If this is true, it’s an indication that the government was already well aware of Lira — and that blaming the Daily Beast for whatever has happened to him (assuming anything has happened to him) is absurd.
The one thing I would blame the Daily Beast for is bringing up Lira’s career as a novelist without giving us any details on the novels themselves — which one Amazon reviewer has compared to the movies of Ed Wood. I may have to research this angle on my own.
In any case, I will continue to follow this incredibly weird story as it develops.
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