Friday, August 07, 2009


I saw the movie Hitch on television the other night. The movie came out in 2005, so I'm sure that it has been "done" to death by the blogroll already. I probably can't compete with their insights, but I'll give it a go.

  • Will Smith (I will use the actors' names), the professional PUA coach, brags to his married friend Michael Rapaport about his "sweaty" and "varied" sex life. But when Jeffrey Donovan seeks to procure his services to help him obtain what he frankly admits will be a one night stand, Smith sniffs, "Sorry, I only help guys who like women." At face value, this is startling hypocrisy. Smith's character is not exactly conspicuous in his monogamy; as the consummate babehound, he does not aspire to marriage or even an LTR. How Smith supposedly carves a moral distinction between his behavior and Donovan's is a mystery, I don't know. But I'm probably using the wrong hermeneutic; more than likely, the movie is shrinking back from its own logic and wants to assure feminist viewers that, really, Smith only uses his power to do good rather than evil. For instance, the movie never shows us the downside of what must be his numerous non-LTRs.

  • Notwithstanding the "variety" of his own personal experience, Smith is shown coaching men in wooing the "girl of their dreams," and in so doing makes a claim for "game" that no real-life PUA coach ever makes. To the extent that I understand it, one of the core principles of PUA technique is developing a mental state in which no one woman becomes an object of fixation. I believe they call it an "attitude of abundance" or something. And more practically, while PUAs claim to help attract women in general, they acknowledge that the odds that even the best practitioners of game will be able to persuade any particular woman to go home with them are still pretty low.

  • Having said all that, the tactical advice that Smith dispenses is still pretty good, especially how to cultivate an air of "alphaness": show dominance, stand up straight, don't let your mouth hang open, don't talk too fast, have a few set-piece conversation plays and act aloof. (But no requirement to actually be aloof, as I pointed out earlier.) These aspects of the film ought to be required viewing for every nerdy high school student who moons* helplessly over women (like, um . . . Φ, for instance).

Readers: I'd like to know your thoughts on the movie. Please feel free to post links to your own reviews in the comments so I don't have to search your blogs individually.

* Our office has a bunch of high school students, a number of them women, working as summer interns in fairly cramped conditions. So I overhear things. Like, for instance, one young lady complaining to another about a mutual friend from high school: "He's always staring at me! I'll be talking to somebody else, and when I happen to glance around, I'll catch him watching me." On the one hand, I totally get this behavior. Our eyes are naturally drawn towards beautiful things. We almost definitionally take pleasure in looking at them. But when that thing is a female, that female is very likely to be creeped out by your stare. (Trust me: I've creeped out plenty of women doing exactly this.) And if she catches you, don't look away; that only makes you look furtive and amplifies the creep factor. You may as well stare her down that that point. But better yet, if you want to look at a beautiful girl, go start a conversation with her. I know it's scary, but if you don't have an agenda other than an excuse to look at her, then you have a lot less pressure than if you are running game. Also, once you've started the conversation, maintain eye contact. This, too, is difficult; hell, I'm 41, and it still takes a supreme act of will not to study my own shoelaces. But look at it this way: you've already paid for the conversation by overcoming your fear of starting it, so don't throw away the visual pleasure of looking into her eyes.


Ferdinand Bardamu said...

I haven't reviewed the film on my blog, so this is the first time I've ever commented on Hitch. The movie seemed to me like the screenwriter(s) read a couple of seduction community posts, got weirded out (as most people do when they encounter such material), and decided to write a movie about it. Like other mainstream movies that tread the same territory (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Sex Drive, etc.), the film takes good advice for men and subverts it into a PC message (heartless player renounces evil ways, nerdy beta loser finds love through his loserness) that ends up misleading them.

"...more than likely, the movie is shrinking back from its own logic and wants to assure feminist viewers that, really, Smith only uses his power to do good rather than evil."

That's actually an accurate depiction of the seduction community, whose gurus rail against misogyny and implore their followers to not abuse women. Folks like Roissy are in the minority in this regard:

And great advice on approaching women. Staring is natural, but also naturally rude.

Trumwill said...

Ferdinand's link contains quite a bit of worthwhile advice. Sort of like how I wouldn't be so critical of The Game if so many people didn't take it to its most absurd conclusions.

Haven't seen Hitch, but you've convinced me that it might be worth my time to give it a look.

The advice in your third bullet is one of the things I hope to pass on to any sons I have (except the aloof, which I'll get to in a minute). It's amazing what a difference things like posture, facial expressions, and monitoring one's appearance can make. There's only so much an unattractive person can do to make themselves desirable, but sometimes simply making the effort helps.

Regarding aloofness, it really depends. There are guys like you and me that I think need that sort of advice because if we don't try to act aloof we can get awfully goofy. So you can try to act aloof, not entirely succeed, but magically find that middle ground. But if someone is naturally distant, suggesting that they act aloof is counterproductive. Instead, they need to try to be engaging to find that middle ground.

Φ said...

Maybe aloofness was a bad word. I was using it as an antonym for "needy". Will Smith, in the flashback sequence from his college experience, demonstrates what this looks like and shows how it is a turn-off.

As far as middle ground goes, I don't really have the answer, but it reminded me of this: after we were married, Mrs. Φ told me that I came across as very cool and stand-offish (aloof) to her casual observation in our common social settings, so much so that her expectations were pretty low when we first started dating. What makes this irony especially cruel is that I believed then, and still think, that I received scant encouragement to do anything else. On the contrary, I always felt like a lurker.

Ferdinand: I scoured youtube and google for the SNL skit from 20 years ago entitled "Reflections of Love with Wilt Chamberlain" or something like that. It goofed on Chamberlain's claim that he had slept with 10,000 women by pretending that all these couplings were in the context of "real" relationships whose arcs just happened to be only a few minutes long.

Clearly, this was absurd. Wilt Chamberlain was obviously very goal oriented in his relationships with women, and his goals were not building a relationship with any kind of long-term view in mind, certainly not marriage and family. Had those really been his goals, he never would have accumulated 10,000 sex partners. He might have accummulated a dozen on his way to getting married.

My point is not that Smith was a misogynist. I just don't get the grand moral distinction between Smith and Donovan, or Roissy for that matter.

I don't think the message of the movie was anti-game. Rather, I think its point was that it is our individual idiosyncracies that endear us to other people. (Even Roissy has recommended having an idiosyncracy or two for this very reason.) But the movie demonstrates, even if it doesn't drive home, that these idiosyncracies must be in the context of solid game. The problem for too many of us is that we are a mess of idiosyncracies with no game.

Anonymous said...

Acting goofy ... ugh ... that was nearly my social downfall in college. Trying to be the goofy comedian of the bunch is very hard and almost always fails. By the time I learned that lesson in college, it was basically too late.

Even today, for example if I go out to lunch with some co-workers on payday Friday, I sometimes have to check myself from trying to say something funny or acting goofy.