Filmmakers Matthew and Barnaby O’Connor have an interesting film on their hands with “The Pickup Game.” For starters, it will open your eyes to a controversial industry you might know very little about. On the other hand, it has subjects who behave so cringeworthily you might develop secondhand embarrassment while simultaneously being appalled while watching it.
“The Pickup Game” takes viewers inside the billion dollar world of the pickup industry, where much like a get-rich-quick scheme minus the prospect of actually getting rich, men pay hundreds and thousands of dollars on coaching from so called pickup artists (PUAs) to learn techniques to attract women.
The film highlights the misogyny of the industry, some of the most famous people in it, and the disgusting harassment style techniques and manipulation they often teach their clients to get women into bed.
Viewers will have to decide for themselves whether they think the men in the film are portrayed fairly or not.
Paul Janka and Ross Jeffries, two of the most well known figures in the industry, are a couple of the only men featured who exhibit any personal growth from when they first started in the business. Their reflections are genuine and insightful and provide a full circle look at how the industry has morphed into what it is today. Other modern-day pickup gurus who have used social media sites like YouTube to propel their businesses and status come off very poorly and without any depth whatsoever.
Additionally, it seems like there was a missed opportunity to ask certain tough questions to some of the PUAs who have children or long-term partners.
For instance, Erik von Markovik, who goes by the stagename Mystery, is recognizable for his role on the 2007 VH1 program “The Pickup Artist,” and has since started a family. It would have been revealing to hear how he reconciles his two worlds. The same goes for the other pickup artists with influential women in their lives.
Furthermore, it would have been nice to see more women in general featured in the film.
The women that are included are those with a professional perspective from a dating coach who abhors the pickup industry to criminal justice officials investigating sex crimes. Apart from one activist, viewers don’t get a chance to hear from women directly who have been targeted by these pickup artists and their supporters, and how it makes them feel. Yet, the film has plenty of time to show women getting chased down the street by men or preyed on in clubs. While the film doesn’t condone the industry or tactics used by any stretch, it really misses the mark by not giving the women it deeply affects a stronger voice.
“The Pickup Game” for what it lacks does indeed have moments of profoundness and viewers who enjoy investigative-style documentaries will be gripped by the exposé of a rarely revealed industry. It’s a film that will create conversation. Yet, what will viewers find most memorable about it? Most likely the behavior it depicts and, for some, the voices that are missing.