The Idiot Box: The Pick Up Artist

This man goes by the name "Mystery". Mystery is the figurehead of a new underground movement called the "Seduction Community". Mystery has a reality show on VH1 called "The Pickup Artist." Mystery teaches socially awkward men how to get laid.

Mystery is a pathetic, loathsome toad of a man.

But Mystery is not an idiot.

He's figured out that meeting and sleeping with women isn't as hard as it seems, especially in an age of deadbeat fathers and the daddy issues they create. He's also figured men will do about anything to even talk to women, let alone have sex with them. By breaking down his methods into a never-ending cascade of acronyms and identifiers, Mystery can walk his hapless students through the process.

And watching the poor, goofy saps under his tutelage, I realized Mystery is actually doing men a favor.

It seems to me heterosexual men have to move through three stages to get the point where they are suitable for a mate.

The first stage is one of sensitive, ignorant fear. This stage usually occurs from puberty right up until the early 20's (it was more like mid-20's for me). This is the stage where men are afraid to talk to women from a romantic standpoint. They want women to appreciate them for the sensitive, understanding souls they are. They end up with a lot of girl friends, but no girlfriends.

After a while, these men begin to understand their approach is not working. In my case, it took a friend sitting me down and telling me "women like (jerks)." In any case, a pendulum swing occurs, and men begin to realize women do respond to cockiness and, sometimes, even being treated poorly.

The thing is, being an jerk only works for so long. After a while, any woman worth falling in love with is going to recognize you for what you are and leave.

Because women worth falling in love with don't like jerks. They like genuine confidence and strength. They like men who know who they are.

(Men want the same thing, by the way. But where women are blinded by what they think is confidence, men are blinded by looks.)

That's where the third stage comes in, when a man realizes he can be himself, a mix of confidence and vulnerability.

The reason Mystery and his doltish band of seduction artists are so pitiful rests in their inability to leave that second stage. Mystery teaches his students how to fake confidence, because that's what Mystery does best. Inside, he's a broken, sad shell of a man, but at least he's having fun. Right?

But back to Mystery doing men a favor.

It's clear the show's contestants are mired in that first stage, socially stumbling their way through life and hopelessly lonely. If you get past Mystery's base purpose (getting laid), you realize these men just need to see how easy it is to approach a beautiful woman and start a conversation. If the fake anecdotes and interest the men are taught to convey can become real stories and honest attention, these men could find themselves at that third phase, with a woman who can appreciate who they are. They'll fall in love with a woman who loves them back.

In the meantime, Mystery will go the way of Hugh Hefner, covering up his pain with blonde after vapid blonde, until the day he dies.


  1. Setting aside any comments I could make on your brilliant insight into these truly horrid little show (it's in the middle of a second season!!), let me just say that Mystery, his wingmen, and the contestants make for truly amazing brain-candy. It's impossible to NOT watch this guy manipulate the contestants by teaching them to manipulate a conversation with a woman. It's atrocious, but I often find myself unable to change the channel. Thankfully, I occasionally have a moment of clarity when I wonder, "What will Joel McHale have to say about this episode?" and that gives me the strength to flip to ESPN.

  2. Just in case any fellas around here are actually taking pointers from the show, I would just like to clarify that no matter how "magic" Mystery thinks his feather boa is, very few women actually respond positively to a man in a feather boa. Boas = scary. Don't wear the boa.

    Oh, and I feel really bad for the guy who's apparent awkward social trait is "works at Radio Shack". For the record, gainful employment, Radio Shack or otherwise, is always attractive.

  3. Kimberly, not to defend Mystery, but the wearing of outlandish clothing is part of the "peacock" theory. If people are noticing you, that's an improvement on blending in with the other schmucks at the bar. I know it sounds insane, but I think there's an element of that strategy that makes sense.

  4. Didn't Tom Cruise play this guy in a movie once?

  5. So, what would it look like to forget this poor guy and truly talk about the 3 stages mentioned?

    I find myself fascinated to think there are men out there who are actually aware of such things.


  6. Great post, Jordan. Fascinating show when I've seen it. Good thoughts in your disection.

    It would be interesting to see a Christian version of this type of guy meets girl training, though. Too many guys are stuck in stage one way beyond their mid 20s.

  7. i haven't seen this show and therefore don't know his tricks, but i did read an article several years ago that remains seared in my brain. it was all about how a guy should be nice, then mean, then nice again, to confuse a woman and make her interested. then he should take her out of her element so she's totally dependent on him. the movie "hitch" was also all about those tricks-of-the-trade. it's interesting from a sociological point of view, but their methodology is just so transparent and degrading to themselves and the women they're trying to seduce.

  8. At first I thought I read, "these men could find themselves at that third base, with a woman who can appreciate who they are."

  9. That would've been awesome, anonymous.

  10. 1. This isn't a new underground movement its been around for YEARS.
    2. Mystery actually encourages people to eventually use their own material and be themselves.

    Good looking women just aren't generally interested in "nice guys". Not until they are already attracted which can't be done as a nice guy. Get it?

  11. @ anonymous:

    "1. This isn't a new underground movement its been around for YEARS."

    You're completely right. I guess I meant it's a new concept to the public at large (and myself in particular). Thanks for the correction.

    And yes, you're right that Mystery encourages men to be themselves...the end goal being natural confidence and appeal. Becoming a true pickup artist requires creativity, ingenuity and confidence, not some canned lines from a guru.

    I guess my point is that the end goal is only one stage, and a very early one at that, of a man's development. At some point, those men will need to understand the valuable aspects of what they've learned (confidence, personality) and dismiss the misogyny, manipulation and treating women like commodities.

  12. If you take the time to dig a little deeper, you find out that Mystery is quite aware of stage 3, and is also very frank and upfront about the fact that he does not address stage 3. Since I have taken the time to dig deeper and actually own a few of his products, I can assure you that he makes it very clear that he is teaching men how to begin a relationship by attracting a woman. The during the relationship stage is another ballgame.

    The proof is in the pudding: since discovering Mystery and his methods, I have become happier, more confident, more social, and yes, more sexually active. The women I have met since my transformation are still in my life - some as friends, some as lovers, and two as long term girlfriends (not at the same time). I'm becoming a better man, and I'm eternally grateful to Mystery for opening my eyes.