Crazy Stupid Love

Glossary of Terms

This is Why we are Ethical; a review of Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

Crazy Stupid Love, brilliantly written and wildly entertaining though it may be, is not the best movie to watch to improve your game. Unlike the precepts in The Tao of Steve, or Hitch, which translate across a broad spectrum of looks and means, a large majority of what Jacob (the resident PUA, played by Ryan Gosling) does is only really viable for a rich playboy who looks like, well, Ryan Gosling. Note that we never actually see Cal (a recent divorcé, Steve Carell) successfully applying Jacob’s techniques. We see him get lucky once despite an absolutely wretched approach, and then we see a montage of successes which we assume are borne of pure confidence.

Not that Jacob doesn’t have useful things to teach. He does. Here are a few choice take-aways:

“Be better than The Gap.”  Meaning, you have to invest in your image in the same way that women do. Women care about brand names and they care about shoes. So if you want to appeal to that market, you better not be wearing cheap sneakers and baggy second-hand jeans.

He demonstrates excellent frame control throughout. In the scene when he is hitting on Hannah, she says “Time to go home.” Rather than fighting her or begging her to stay, he says, “That’s awfully forward of you,” and proceeds to play as though he fully expects to go home with her. Also, when Jacob sees Cal striking out at the bar, Jacob beckons him over as though he is a king summoning a jester. Cal has no idea who he is, but comes over immediately.

He does very little work. He gets women to talk about themselves, to prove how interesting they are, while he simply listens and watches for IOIs. Then, once they’ve shown enough interest, he uses the same one-line closer: “You wanna go?” He holds all the hoops, and women are more than happy to jump through.

He teaches Cal that he is sabotaging himself by burdening women with his own insecurities, his sob story, and his lack of confidence. “Your wife left you because you lost track of who you are as man, and as a lover.” Painful, but true.

His technique is not perfect, though, as we see from the fact that he does not succeed with Hannah on that first attempt. Throughout that encounter, he continues to ply her with attention and compliments despite her resistance, essentially rewarding her for resisting. Clearly he could use a few lessons in microcalibration (which he usually doesn’t need, given how often he gets nothing but IOIs), giving IODs in response to IODs, then offering a Demonstration of High Value (DHV), and straight into a compliance test. Compliance gets a reward (IOI), noncompliance gets another IOD, and so on. This is what mere mortals have to do on pretty much every encounter.

You can also learn a good deal about what not to do by watching pretty much everyone else in the movie. They are constantly showing interest before they have seen any IOIs, declaring their love even after they’ve gotten IOD’s, and generally badgering their love interest with unwanted attention.

But the very most useful scene in the film, the main reason I gave it such high marks as a PUA movie, is the scene in which Hannah deconstructs Jacob’s pick-up methodology, and unwittingly gets him to admit that he is “deeply unhappy” with his life, despite the constant stream of gorgeous women parading naked through his decked-out bachelor pad.

Having come home with Jacob with the firm intention of having a one-night stand with “the hot guy from the bar,” Hannah instead peppers him with questions about what he usually does when he brings women home, and how it works, and why. In telling her the tricks of his trade, he becomes self-conscious about the mechanical repetition of this little romance factory, and the emptiness of it all begins to weigh on him. He asks her to “do (him) a kindness” and ask him a personal question. After opening up to her as he never has to any other woman, he realizes what his supposedly perfect existence has been missing all this time: true intimacy.

The cliché of the sad and lonely PUA exists for a reason. Those who look at screwing as a sport and who believe that “winning” has more to do with quantity than quality will inevitably find that sex without love becomes very boring very quickly. And this is not even mentioning the ethical concerns of PUA for its own sake, though I will just say that those come back to haunt both Cal and Jacob later in the movie as well. Microcalibration

The point is: this is why we are ethical pick-up artists. This is why we encourage our clients to focus on their long-term goals, not just to rack up experience points via a never-ending stream of one night stands. Because intimacy is its own reward, and is frankly the only worthwhile goal in this big crazy game of human relationships. Without it, you might as well just take photographs of strange women and hang them on your wall. At least a photograph can’t give you an STD.