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Hot Docs 2019 Review: The Pickup Game

Come for the misogyny and stay for the pseudo science! The Pickup Game exposes the industry teaching men how to manipulate women.

Men Suck, Monsters as Men, and Why Are We Like This? would all be suitable alternatives to The Pickup Game, a documentary from Neil Strauss that gives an inside look at the emergence of the global pickup industry. The film depicts a thriving, resilient billion dollar industry that generates profit off the desire of men to manipulate women through whatever techniques deemed effective. Like other more traditional self-help fields, students can sign up for live seminars, personal coaching, and take online courses, all designed to make it easier to get with women.

The film features a whole cast of smarmy characters, many of them long-time gurus who built the business and have since achieved idol status among their peers. One such titan of industry is Ross Jeffries, author of a 1992 self-published book How to Get the Women You Desire into Bed, who is a lot like those over-the-hill movie kingpins that yell “at least we had a code!”

Despite successfully explaining and exploring this relatively underground world, the film remains oddly apolitical. It’s always a challenge to expose contemptible ideas without providing a platform for the people pushing them, but the apolitical and almost wholly uncritical approach is a questionable choice given the context.

Dani Saad

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. Unless you're Harry Potter in which case you'll lose... everything.