How Greta Thunberg mastered the art of the Twitter clapback, from Donald Trump to Andrew Tate

When Andrew Tate decided to seek attention from Thunberg, the climate activist had the perfect retort

Clémence Michallon
Friday 30 December 2022 14:33 GMT
Greta Thunberg and Andrew Tate trade barbs in viral Twitter spat

On Tuesday 27 December, Andrew Tate, a former professional kickboxer, former Big Brother contestant, and current self-described misogynist, resolved to catch the attention of Greta Thunberg, the 19-year-old environmental activist. He did so on Twitter.

Mr Tate was banned from the platform in 2017, but notably returned in November this year. Elon Musk did not specifically say he had removed Mr Tate’s ban, but Mr Tate came back on the platform at the same time Mr Musk announced he had lifted bans on other previously banned accounts.

“Hello @GretaThunberg,” Mr Tate wrote. “I have 33 cars. My Bugatti has a w16 8.0L quad turbo. My TWO Ferrari 812 competizione have 6.5L v12s. This is just the start. Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions.” Ever thoughtfully, Mr Tate attached a photo of himself pumping gas into the Bugati in question.

Andrew Tate responds to Greta Thunberg's comments about him

In the realm of those who believe “owning the Libs” to be a worthwhile pastime, Greta Thunberg is a frequent target. After all, she rose to fame when she was 15 years old. What better way for a rich, famous man to assert his moral and intellectual superiority than to publicly go after a girl? Besides, she spends a large part of her time fighting climate change, an activity apparently worthy of endless ridicule.

Not that Ms Thunberg cared much about Mr Tate and his Bugatti. To Mr Tate’s carefully composed missive, complete with statistics and a photo, Ms Thunberg replied in 10 devastating words.

“Yes, please do enlighten me,” she wrote back. “Email me at smalld**” (The capitalization is mine; Ms Thunberg’s clapback was written entirely in blasé lowercase.)

Ms Thunberg’s tweet has received 2.8 million likes (Mr Tate’s, for comparison, currently has 193,100) and delighted Twitter users. It was a perfect comeback, albeit not a surprising one: for years now, Ms Thunberg has perfected the art of the devastating retort. The chronically online might recall the time in 2019 when then-President Donald Trump decreed that “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

Ms Thunberg could have wrapped herself in disdainful silence, but she chose a more entertaining alternative. She updated her Twitter bio to read:  “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old-fashioned movie with a friend.” And the following year, when a panicked then-President Trump tweeted to “Stop the count!” as it became apparent he would lose the 2020 presidential election, Ms Thunberg wrote: “Donald must work on his Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Donald, Chill!” She has also used her Twitter bio to clap back at Vladimir Putin and Jair Bolsonaro, when they respectively called her “poorly informed” and a “pirralha” (which translates to “brat”).

Key to Ms Thunberg’s comebacks is their disinterested, almost bored tone. She never sounds like she’s trying too hard. The voice is reminiscent of the titular character in MTV’s Daria. There is a constant implication that Ms Thunberg took time out of her busy day to swat her trolls’ tweets like flies before resuming more important pursuits. Since her reply to Mr Tate, he has sought to draw out the controversy through several tweets. He wrote back directly to Ms Thunberg: “How dare you?!” He replied to and retweeted a few tweets from people who sided with him. He tweeted, separately from the thread where it all began: “Strange as it may seem, there is a teenager out there who believes your government should tax you into poverty to stop the sun from being hot.” When someone distastefully posted that “Andrew Tate and Grata [sic] Thunberg need to stop flirting and just f*** already”, Tate, who is 36, retweeted the message and added: “She ain’t ready.” Eventually, he filmed and shared a video about his Twitter exchange with Ms Thunberg.

As for Ms Thunberg, she hasn’t said as much as a single additional word on the matter. The message is clear: she barely – barely – has time for these shenanigans. That’s the whole point. It’s been the whole point all along.

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