mon 02/08/2021

Inside the Secret World of Incels, BBC One review - involuntary celibacy, violence and despair | reviews, news & interviews

Inside the Secret World of Incels, BBC One review - involuntary celibacy, violence and despair

Inside the Secret World of Incels, BBC One review - involuntary celibacy, violence and despair

A disturbing documentary about men who feel rejected

Catfishman: "I'm a legend in the incel community, a hero"

A sad story of lonely men, Simon Rawles's atmospheric and beautifully shot documentary has no narration, apart from the occasional faint, off-camera question from the interviewer. This makes everything more depressing. We’re alone on a nightmare ride, starting with Catfishman. “I catfish females.

I’m a legend in the community, a hero.” He is living somewhere snowy and motionless in north America, we’re not told where, and spends his days constructing fake online profiles, targeting women. His mindset is grim. “I pose as a male model, good-looking and attractive, and I set up dates. I reel them in, it’s as easy as abc.”

If and when the unsuspecting woman turns up, he “confronts and exposes them”. Wearing a torn neoprene mask, he yells abuse – “You fucking got catfished, bitch” - videos the result and posts it online, cackling with laughter. “It’s my retribution to all those girls treating me like shit. It makes me feel good.”

Catfishman is an incel, an involuntary celibate. It’s not fair, he tells us, that good-looking men should get all the sex (it turns out that he did have a girlfriend, but domestic violence ensued and he was issued with a restraining order. So perhaps he’s not even a true incel, just a regular sociopath). He admires Elliot Rodger, who killed six people (the parents of one of his victims are interviewed in Rawles's film), all students at the University of Santa Barbara, in Isla Vista, California, in 2014 (he then shot himself). Before the killings he uploaded a video online, explaining his motives. Women weren't attracted to him, so he decided to murder as many of them as he could. He was 22.

Rodger is regarded as a saint and a poster boy in some dark incel circles, where men believe they’re owed sex and sanctioned rape is seen as a good idea. There have been various copycat killings, including Alek Minassian’s Toronto van attack in 2018, in which, citing the “incel rebellion”, he killed eight women and two men.

Toronto-born Dr Kaitlyn Regehr, a lecturer at the University of Kent in England, brings a bit of perspective to bear. She is researching online misogyny, with particular reference to Rodger, and the way violence gets normalised and spills offscreen on to the streets.“It’s not just that they feel isolated by women,” she says of incels, “but that they feel isolated by society in general.” Before the internet, of course, it wasn’t so easy to find validation. “The police should be looking at this in the same way as religious extremism.”incelLooking on the bright side, this disturbing film does emphasise that not all incels feel violently entitled to sex and relationships with women. Matt, a doggy-day-care worker in New York (pictured above), is mild and charming, with long hair, a fine-boned face and a strong singing voice (he bursts into a rendition of “I’m just a weary exile/ singing a song of loneliness”). He explains that, officially, an incel is someone who’s been celibate six months or longer, and it doesn’t mean that you’re a misogynist. Some incels are just shy. “I’m so alone, it hurts a little bit, but I can’t let that be an excuse to be unkind to others.” The online community is a source of comfort, he says, and makes him realise that having dating problems is completely normal. In other words, he’s sane. Though a bit odd.

James, from County Down, cuts a tragic figure. He means well, but, at a low point, fell into an Elliot Rodger mindset, composing raps with lyrics such as “Suck on my nuts as I blow out your guts.” “Do you see why that might be problematic?” ventures the interviewer. “You’re lost in darkness, you lose hope,” replies James, who now makes daily YouTube videos, sharing his thoughts and trying to help other incels, and gets positive feedback. He’s embarked on an online romance with Sara, another KHHV (kissless, handholdless, hugless virgin). “She’s the same as me, which is great. I’m hopeful we have a future. It’s a chance to break out of inceldom, a chance for a life.”

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