Hot Docs 2019: Our Review Of ‘The Pickup Game’

Hot Docs 2019: Our Review Of ‘The Pickup Game’

Hip-hop has a saying: game recognize game. It means a “true player for real” can sniff out the posers and wannabes. If that phrase is true, rap icons like Biggie and Tupac wouldn’t see much of themselves in the players of the pickup game. Co-directors Barnaby O’Connor and Matthew O’Connor’s new film The Pickup Game examines a group of men known as pickup artists. Pickup artists use mind games, trickery, and deception to sleep with women. Actually, these d-bags wouldn’t use such flowery language. These deluded wannabes are out to bang, and they’ll do whatever it takes to achieve their goal.

The pickup game mentality blew up in the ‘80s and has festered into a billion-dollar industry. There are countless books, websites, and seminars preaching the pickup gospel. The central tenet being that a man can have any woman he desires as long as he approaches her “the right way.” The right way involves precise posture, boastful language, and showing the woman she’s not in charge.

The Pickup Game follows a series of instructors as they break down their techniques to rapt male audiences. We also spend plenty of time watching hidden camera footage of these experts in action. It’s painful watching these guys out in the wild, using psychological manipulation to pull ladies into their toxic orbits.

Most of the times their ploys don’t work. But these pickup industry gurus cut together their videos to make their techniques look like sure bets. But horny guys’ pursuit of women isn’t the only predatory aspect of the doc. The film lays out how pickup instructors’ prey on desperate men, and charge exorbitant prices for classes, books, and one on one sessions.

To paraphrase Jeru the Damaja, these wannabe players are Playin’ themselves.

This post was written by
Victor Stiff is a Toronto-based freelance writer and pop culture curator. Victor currently contributes insights, criticisms, and reviews to several online publications where he has extended coverage to the Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs, Toronto After Dark, Toronto ComiCon, and Fan Expo Canada. Victor has a soft spot in his heart for Tim Burton movies and his two poorly behaved beagles (but not in that order).
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