A conservative commentator, Crowder drew millions of views and Internet notoriety, much of it from his podcast and viral ‘Change My Mind’ videos, filming street-style interactions on various hot topics from male privilege to the scope of the 2nd Amendment.
Today, of course, googling Steven Crowder will give you an entirely different set of results. Crowder made headlines over a June 2021 video presented as an example of his verbally and emotionally abusive tendencies in his past marriage. In the video, captured on a Ring doorbell cam, Crowder berates his then-pregnant then-wife Hilary for “refus[ing] to do wifely things” including picking up groceries, complains about how his wife’s actions weren’t “worthy — wife worthy,” and finally screams, “I will f*ck you up,” a clear threat to the woman carrying his children. His wife reportedly fled the property shortly afterward, and the two would divorce in the months that followed.
Let’s get the obvious part out of the way first: there’s nothing masculine, moral, or excusable about Crowder’s actions. Despite what a gaggle of Twitter trolls and baffling online commenters seem to think, Crowder is squarely in the wrong, even by his own semi-admission. There’s no defense, conservative or otherwise, of what he’s done here. I have to admit, however, that the first thing I thought after watching the video wasn’t about the future of Crowder’s media empire, the perceived invincibility of conservative celebrities, or even the extent to which the political industry too often incentivizes horrific abuse.
I was remembering the first time I ever watched Steven Crowder.
Rewind to 2018, when my political peers and I were all holed up in our rooms watching ‘Ben Shapiro owns the libs’-style YouTube videos. Simpler times notwithstanding, I recall vividly seeing a video of a political commentator I’d never heard of show up in my suggested feed: Steven Crowder. The segment was entitled “What a REAL Man Needs to Be,” and featured Crowder giving a more introspective talk on the nature of manliness in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. “What should you look for in a man?” Crowder asked his audience. “An honest man with a backbone that’s it you want a man who you’re going to reach for when the wolves are at the door.” To Crowder, the meaning of masculinity was the qualities of courage and fortitude that spoke far more than physical strength or perceived ‘manly’ activities: “a track record, a lifetime of honest, integrity, [and] discipline. No one rolls the dice on the squad leader.” Later in the video, he harped on anger as a tool for good: “There’s righteous anger versus douchebaggery,” he argued, urging his audience to the latter as a weapon against evil in phrasing that’s prescient in retrospect: “That’s the kind of man you want when the wolves are at the door.”
As a 16-year-old who lifted weights, struggled with mental health, and didn’t always resonate with the sleek image of the Daily Wire-style influencers, Crowder’s tougher brand and more straight-talking style got to me. Crowder took on issues in a down-to-earth style that complemented the more polished and expert-driven commentary that figures like Shapiro represented. Seven years later, as an aspiring member of the political media, I’m driven to look at Crowder through new eyes.
The thing about Crowder’s style (or shtick), and the content of many of his more philosophical musings in the era of YouTube, is that it wasn’t all harmful. Crowder was right about what a man is supposed to be, even if he failed to practice what he was so hell-bent on preaching. His distinctions between legitimate, righteous anger and the rage and abuse of an egomaniac were correct, even if he discarded those qualms when it counted. His worst moments are inexcusable, and the consequences of his actions are deserved. But, for those of us who grew up in the political Youtube sphere of which he was a part, it’s worth remembering that, for the people who found legitimate advice and ideas in his content, he was more than his worst moments.
Now the man who was a part of my political evolution has had his worst moment arrive. If I’m learning anything from working in politics, it is that people bring their entire selves to this industry—temptations, vices, and all. Steven Crowder may once have been a role model for young men looking for a way to reconcile their politics with the worlds of mental toughness and the down-to-earth struggles of everyday life. Now, he’s become something far darker and more complicated: a real, sinful, thoroughly flawed human being who should not be remembered but who, for me, is impossible to forget.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.