When The Pick-Up Artist 2 first came on, Dave and I groaned, “oh, God…yuck” but we were soon riveted by the show’s ragtag assortment of nerds desperate to learn how to talk to girls. And the show amuses from the get-go: As soon as the camera zooms in on Mystery’s big furry hat, eyeliner and black nail polish, I immediately start laughing.
But the nerds are pretty endearing, and to the show’s credit, they are not She’s All That -style “let’s put glasses on a hot person and pretend he or she isn’t hot” nerds but actual nerds: Among them is a 28-year-old virgin, a guy who has never been given a haircut by anyone but his mom, a guy who hasn’t gotten laid in 9 years or something and a Radio Shack employee who, after he found out his girlfriend cheated on him, didn’t dump her for another three months. (His intro video has him strumming a guitar and singing about being stabbed in the heart with a spork.)
As Mailee pointed out in a comment on my last blog, the show felt the need to trek to Phoenix to find women who might not have heard these tired pick-up schemes that are detailed and outlined in Neil Strauss’s The Game . So in the first episode, the nerds are let loose in a noisy, cheesy club to humiliate themselves demonstrating how abysmal their game is while Mystery and his wingz watch on hidden cameras. Afterwards, Mystery and his cohorts swoop into the club to show the nerds how it’s done.
To showcase his true skill, Mystery — oooooh! — removes his ridiculous hat and goggles, demonstrating his pick-up mastery sans douche accoutrements. Inside the club, Mystery makes spooky hand gestures in front of one girl’s face that reminds me of people wiggling keys to entertain babies and Matador drags a couple chicks over to Mystery who asks him “Are they cool?” And Matador shrugs and replies “Cool enough.”
Right. If some dude said that to me I would be like, Fuck. You. Hat-Douche. But that such a front would actually engage chicks shows that the point of “The Game” is not to pick up normal adult women but to prey on young drunk chicks with low self-esteem who are looking to get laid anyway. Who else would bother listening to that shit?
The bell-and-whistle aspect of The Lame, I mean The Game, is one of the most amusing aspects of the show. In the second episode that aired Sunday, Matt won the Bingo challenge (which was pretty cute: Mystery sent the nerds into a bingo game to practice “opening” sets with some unintimidatingly old biddies. After the nerds made the rounds, Mystery asked the ladies to mark on their bingo cards who they liked best.) so his “prize” was this ridiculous feather boa that Mystery gave him to wear to the club that night. When Matt fails to work the boa to Mystery’s satisfaction, Mystery scolds him, “That boa is magic in my hands!” Dave and I had a good guffaw over that scene.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…do catch the “makeover” segment of the first episode, where the nerds are taken to a douche-outfitting boutique to choose their new “avatars.” Bahahahahahaaaa!!!! They actually call them avatars! The pick-up douche avatar — where sex meets Dungeons & Dragons.
Anyway, Mystery and the Wingz offer critiques and encouragement while the nerds paw through and try on white Fedoras, sparkly vests and shiny button-down shirts. Their eyebrows and chests are waxed, their hair cut and dyed and, puke, most of them are adorned with piercings to render them cool. Is it 1991 in Arizona or what?
But the nerds do look a lot better, although most of their new “avatars” would completely repel me personally, but whatever. Newly confident, they return to the club and it is heart-warming to see that after just one lesson, their game has improved quite a bit.
This is the essence of the show: it’s a feel-good triumph-of-the-underdog kind of thing and the guys they chose for the cast seem pretty likable, which helps. But this sunny take on the pick-up game — that all it is is helping shy, awkward guys get over their fear of women — seems as disingenuous to me as the cutesy, fawning media coverage of The Game did.
A friend of mine dated one of these pick-up aholes in San Francisco for a month or two, and I know more about this community than I really care to. (Incidentally, I met this guy once and I swear to god, he was the most hollow, dull, repulsive little prick I’ve ever met in my life. She urged him to run some of his lines on me that were supposed to be engaging and so he said “You’re like my little sister,” and I was like, what? He also sullenly stood in the doorway of the restaurant and muttered that he wished he could he could machine-gun everyone in it. Yeah, really impressive. I have no idea what she saw in him, never have I so instantly and enduringly despised anyone.)
My friend found their internet “lair,” Fast Seduction, which offers some free lessons on dehumanizing women (you rarely if ever see the word “women” in this community; they’re referred to as “HB”s, which stands for “hot babe” or “hot bitch” and is usually followed by a numerical rating. So “I met these two girls at a club last night” becomes “I opened a two-set with an HB8 and an HB7.5,” etc. etc.) but the most interesting section is the message boards. There, self-described reformed “frustrated chumps” gleefully write “lay reports,” in which they detail their exploits. Some of these guys get more excited about accumulating several phone numbers in an evening than actually getting laid, seriously.
They did mention “negging” in the show but only briefly. Here’s the fast seduction definition of it:
“A negative remark towards a girl designed to break her indifference to you by showing her that you are indifferent to her beauty (or other striking features). Not an insult, that would be bad. More like ‘Those are interesting nails – are they real?’ or ‘It’s really cute how your nose wiggles when you talk – look, there it goes again!’. No more than 2 negs on an average HB (7-9/7-9), a maximum of 3 on a super HB (10/10). Negs are pretty much a necessity for 10s or strippers (whether they’re 10s or not – simply because they are in an environment which is conducive to them thinking they are 10s).”
Those are pretty mild neg examples, if I remember right. Some of these little turds will say shit to a chick like “That’s a pretty dress; I’ve seen three other girls here wearing the same one.” I mean, these guys are awkward; the odds of them going too far with any of this shit is pretty high. Negs are annoying and they are meant to insult the targets, I mean, come on (and women are called targets, by the way).
But the most basic, and I think disturbing, tenet of the “Mystery method” and other off-shoots of this mind-fuck philosophy is that no woman is special, they’re all the same and therefore there’s nothing to be afraid of. I think that how much a pick-up student embraces the misogynistic aspects of the game varies a great deal. But still. I remember there was one guy who was one of the nerd-king teachers who did have a girlfriend, and this appeared to be accepted among his peers, but in general, a guy who is thinking about settling down with one girl is derided as having “one-itis” and dismissed as a chump. You’re not supposed to want a serious relationship, so …how healthy is the game, really?
I haven’t been to the site in years, not since Strauss’s book came out and all the nerds were in a tizzy over the mainstreaming of their formerly secret world. But I can tell you that several years ago, there arose among the pick-up douches a rallying cry for “proof” of how hot these conquests actually were, which led to fucking VIDEO and photographs of these chicks, often obviously unknown to the (mostly drunk) women. Many of these idiots posted these pictures and videos on this public board and elsewhere until a few voices of reason got them to stop and move them to private “lairs” that were password-protected. (It would likely surprise you how long it took them to wise up and do this.) It was pretty fucked up.
When Neil Strauss did a reading a few years ago in West Hollywood, I pitched a thing about it to the LA Weekly. The editor wrote back, cc’ing a couple other editors, but with palpably mild interest; he admitted he was pretty skeptical that any halfway intelligent woman would fall for their bullshit. Like the rest of the world, evidently, he seemed dubious that there might be anything really sinister about this, so I bagged on it and didn’t even go to the reading. It didn’t seem worth racing to WeHo from Chatsworth after work for the “thanks, but I’m going to have to pass” that I felt was inevitable.
Yes, folks, that’s the kind of naked ambition that has me blogging for you for free here today. Yahoo! And think of all the pick-up wisdom I missed out on, too.