Behind the Bastards

Behind the Bastards
Behind the Bastards
Topic: Historical Crime
Network: Cool Zone Media
Podcast Year: 2024

Every week I listen to this podcast about the worst humans in human history and wonder if perhaps I’m now on some sort of covert government hit list. The host, Robert Evans — no, not that Robert Evans — has very interesting politics. I think they used to call it libertarian, though I think he refers to himself as an anarchist? But he’s more conspiracy-adjacent, anti-establishment gun enthusiast than I would normally be comfortable hanging with. You know, me being a squishy Gen-X, blue-state lefty afraid of my own shadow. Drugs? No thanks. Drinking and fighting and possibly hacking official systems to steal the secrets of nefarious US programs? Nope, I’m good. Point is, this dude is everything I am not. But I do love a story about terrible people. So sign me up and I’ll ignore the nonsense. Hopefully my cookies aren’t being collected by some shadowy cabal somewhere. See, there I go.

It’s generational; I get it. We’re rule followers and trust that our governments are working in general good faith. This podcast, not so much. It’s been up and running since 2018, so I am super late to the game, just joining the party in 2023. I haven’t scrolled back through the entire back catalog, but presumably he did all the Hitlers and other WWII German ghouls in the first year. Moved on to strongmen and dictators from there. And worked his way into mass murderers and cult leaders. Bastards all. He does move beyond history’s monsters, though. Propagandists, tech leaders, scammers, insurrectionists and others. If anyone any time in history has called you a piece of shit, you’re on his radar. And even some that are not.

And, yeah, I could watch the History Channel and get all the Goebbels and Pol Pots of the world, but Evans has multiple episodes about dudes like Lord Aspinall, G. Gordon Liddy and modern bastards like Sam Bankman-Fried (which is actually about author Michael Lewis) and stupid-ass Scott Adams. And, yes, the level of bastardness is seriously variable. Nobody is putting the dude who created Dilbert on the same level as Mengele, but the man has definitely been called a piece of shit a few times in his life. And, honestly, it’s these kind of mysterious historical folks or organizations that I’ve never heard of that are the most interesting. Or things like the Illuminati, whose history is way different than I knew. It’s educational! You just have to work yourself through Evans’ sometimes oddball voice and left-of-center sense of humor. And his somewhat sus politics, of course.

But he clearly puts a lot of work into the show. He does deep research on whatever the subject of the week is. He generally goes chronologically through the development of the person or organization that is the subject of the pod. Starting with early life and going through death or prison or whatever makes a logical end. Some is straight-up Wikipedia. But other stuff is research on papers, historical documents, interviews and all the other places people find information. In his case, I’m sure he’s dark-webbing some of this stuff and maybe calling up some of his presumably unsavory connections through old jobs and wherever he spent his nights in his early life. He’s still a relatively young dude, and despite working at he feels way more Vice. So Vice. His sense of humor basically involves shitting on the fact he has to run ads on his podcast to pay the bills. I’d call his style “dark.” But he’s covering dark things. Subversive? Not really. I’d classify it as sophomoric un-PC, really. But don’t think that he’s reporting on these people because he’s on their side. Hardly. Again, his politics are clearly very complicated. Guest hosts run the gamut racially, sexually, gender fluidly, etc. He clearly hates government overreach. And fascists. And racists. And anyone who has made money on the backs of the poor, unwilling or unaware. Hates big control in politics and tech and anything else where privacy is risked and lives controlled. Live and let live, I guess. But with guns. Let’s call it paranoid laissez faire liberalism.

Anyhow, the podcast is entertaining and I’ve learned about all sorts of people and things that I never would have by listening to Evans and his guests. I do like how he takes what feels like an Internet rabbit hole and gathers it in a digestible way that makes sense. I wouldn’t call it reporting, per se, but he is really good at culling disparate info and presenting a cohesive chronological story in an audio-only format. Which I imagine is a pretty time-consuming, difficult thing to do consistently. It’s just amazing there are this many bastards for this podcast. But I guess there are new ones born every day.