The Not So Beautiful Game, Step 7: In Which Our Narrator Mistakes Familiarity with Flim-Flam for Strength of Character
Our bloody fabulous editor Mindy brought this article to my attention. It confirmed my impression from reading The Game that the type of people who attend workshops given by internet libertines are looking for some, any, social skills and the whole thing is rather sad. It also points out some shortcomings in the way that people are socialized. It is my remembrance and observation that small children are often segregated by gender into rigidly different boxes and never the pink and blue shall meet. However, the adult world does not work that way. Those who are not naturally gregarious may have been so socially conditioned into fear of the other of the two socially-acceptable genders that they are incapable of coming up with the tools to interact by themselves. This is a problem. I was homeschooled from fifth through eleventh grade and I recall much handwringing about the development of social skills amongst those not in public school. It is, however, my impression (granted, this impression is mostly from watching 80’s films) that the social skills taught by public schools are generally barbarous and tribalistic. Regardless of whether I’m right about the causes of the great amounts of social awkwardness upon which Neil Strauss and related ilk prey, it is evident by the success of Neil Strauss and related ilk at preying that we are failing at giving people the skills they need to thrive at interacting with others. Thoughts on ways to correct this, darlings?
Step 7 (Extract to a seduction location) of our increasingly boring source material starts with more name-dropping. Our intrepid narrator has met Tom Cruise! He is introduced to the church of Scientology! He compares the conversion methods of Scientologists to the seduction techniques that he uses! He, however, makes it clear that he himself is immune to such techniques. There was some earlier step in which our narrator was talking about how all women, not just “materialistic club trash” are susceptible to seduction techniques no matter how much their significant others think that the women they are interested in are different. (I guess all the anecdotes about libertines failing and getting slapped are either forgotten or attributed to poor technique?). My conclusion is that our narrator thinks that he’s just too special to be convinced, when the reality is that he can just recognize persuasive techniques for what they are. Being aware of manipulative attempts tends to make people resistant, just like knowing how magic works tends to make people more skeptical of supernatural claims. I believe it was dear Harry Houdini who remarked that a flim-flam should be sent to catch a flim-flam. One of the many ways that Neil Strauss could actually make The Game interesting and worthwhile would be to compare the techniques he has learned for seduction to the efforts that various religious groups, not just the Scientologists, make to proselytize. But he doesn’t. Instead, we are treated to a lengthy description of how a group of internet libertines are renting a Hollywood mansion (for $50,000 a month, because apparently they have that money despite none of them seeming to have a steady source of income) and all their plans to form a wonderful community of people who seduce women and then despise women who are seduceable. I suppose there are probably less charming communities in Hollywood. The Scientologists, for example.
We end the chapter with more name-dropping, as the seducer Papa succeeds in getting Paris Hilton’s phone number after encountering her at a restaurant. It’s super creepy, since Papa relates working up the courage to approach her as reminding himself of what he “deserves.” People do deserve some things, e.g. food, healthcare, due process of law, etc. Attention from the desired sex is not something people are entitled to, and that Papa so casually remarks that he deserves this makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. Fortunately, our narrator does not dwell on this, because he is too busy reminding us that all the techniques Papa uses, Papa learned from him, Style. It would be just horrible if we the readers were to forget that Style is totally the awesomest of all the awesome libertines.
There’s an article in a math magazine that I remember reading years ago, that began with Uma Thurman remarking that men did not often approach her. The article then went into the probability of a woman being approached by a man for amorous intent, with the conclusion that more attractive women are less likely to be so approached. Since I can’t easily find it, and I only sort of remember it, take that for what it’s worth, and I could be making it all up. However, if I’m not, this would indicate that women who are more conventionally attractive or famous are less familiar with seductive approaches, and therefore more likely to be susceptible to manipulatively persuasive libertines. If anyone can find this article, please leave me a link. The entire reason I bring it up, other than that it’s bugging me that I can’t find it or remember it better, is that this would seem to undercut the braggadocio with which the libertines name drop the celebrities from whom they have been given phone numbers.
One of our amazing commenters, Bridget Woodbury, sent us the article in question, entitled the Carol Syndrome. It’s worth a read.