The other day I happened to catch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on cable. As far as coming-of-age movies go, while it may not be on the level of Stand By Me, it’s still a very funny movie with a healthy, masculine sense of life. There is definitely a red pill sensibility in several parts. Ferris has his girl, but she’s along for the ride—not the center of his universe. He basically does whatever he wants, stumbling occasionally along the way, but also finding time to drop some pearls of wisdom, like this quote about his friend Cameron:
Cameron has never been in love – at least, nobody’s ever been in love with him. If things don’t change for him, he’s gonna marry the first girl he lays, and she’s gonna treat him like shit, because she will have given him what he has built up in his mind as the end-all, be-all of human existence. She won’t respect him, ’cause you can’t respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn’t work.
Young men aren’t getting that kind of candor about the dangers of oneitis from Don Jon, Superbad, or Scott Pilgrim.
The purpose of this article however, is to break down a specific scene that happens to be a very solid, simple example of game. Charlie Sheen plays a druggie in a police station. He sits next to Ferris’s sister Jean, who has been hauled in for her “fake” 911 call (this was after she caught her principal in her house and kicked him in the face). Go on Youtube. Watch the scene. Identify the principles involved.
Playing the Bad Boy
Superficially he seems to be playing a kind of “asshole” game. He stares at her, cracks his knuckles, and says unflattering things to her. However if you watch the scene carefully, you will realize that everything Sheen’s character says and does is measured and purposeful. He isn’t “playing” an asshole; he sees a pretty girl, has something he wants to say, asks specific questions, and then gives honest answers, maintaining strong eye contact throughout.
He starts by asking her if she was arrested for drugs. Jean’s body language is pretty cold and closed up at this point. With an unconcealed pride she declares, “Thank you, no, I’m straight.” She then asks why Sheen is there.
He’s not impressed. He doesn’t make excuses for himself. The matter-of-fact way he states it conveys this message to Jean: “If the fact that I use drugs is a deal-breaker for you, tough.” Jean however still isn’t buying, so she bristles and tells him put his thumb up his butt (probably sounded tougher in her head). Sheen sizes her up, then decides to demonstrate how to properly insult someone.
“You wear too much eye makeup. My sister wears too much. People think she’s a whore.”
The delivery here is excellent, especially the pauses between each sentence. It is a solid neg. It’s not too light and not too mean. It shows that he has no interest in buttering Jean up and that he isn’t afraid to offend her. To Jean’s credit, she isn’t baited—she gives him a look and says nothing. Charlie persists.
“You don’t want to talk about your problem?”
“With you? Are you serious?”
Again, no sense of offense or emotion in response to Jean’s insult. He simply looks down at his crotch, then gives Jean a look like “Really?” Likely he had something else prepared to say, but by this point he had worn down Jean enough to get her to bite. She opens up a bit (note the body language).
“Alright. You wanna know what’s wrong?”
“Oh I know what’s wrong. Just wanna hear you say it.”
Sheen’s line here is a bit cryptic but we can infer that he has well sized her up by this point. What I think he means is something to the effect “You are an attractive upper class white girl giving attitude to a stranger in a police station. You know that your asinine suburban girl problems are bullshit and it makes you high-strung, so I’ll humor you for a bit.” Charlie proceeds to listen to Jean complain about her brother Ferris skipping school:
“Why should he get to ditch when everyone else has to go?”
“You could ditch.”
“Yeah, I’d get caught.”
“I see. So you’re pissed off because he ditches and doesn’t get caught. Is that it?”
“Basically…Then your problem is you.”
“Excuse you. You oughta spend a little more time dealing with yourself, a little less time worrying about what your brother does.”
What he says here is 100% true. It is the sort of clear honest advice you should want from your friends. A man ought to judge the quality of his friends by their willingness to speak straight, unflattering truths to them. Unfortunately for women, most of the female friends and white knights they surround themselves with would never dare to say something like this.
What Charlie says here is not mean. It isn’t a neg, yet it has that effect. That’s the beauty of it. Jean gets mad (“Why don’t you keep your opinions to yourself!”) but deep down, she appreciates it. Decent women all crave a man who will not buy their bullshit or coddle them because it is a sign of leadership.
Masculine Leadership vs. Supplication
Imagine what a typical white knight would say in this situation. Upon hearing that the biggest problem in this privileged girl’s life is that her brother occasionally ditches school without getting caught, how would they respond?
“Man, your brother sounds like an asshole!”
“What a jerk! Sorry you have to put up with him”
“Fucking loser. He won’t amount to anything.”
“Real men don’t skip out on their responsibilities.”
“That sucks, but don’t sweat it. You’re too smart to let a shithead like that get to you.”
Betas rarely miss a chance to cut down other men in front of women, especially if those other men are not present. They also rarely miss a chance to flatter women and feign sympathy. Yet do you imagine that any of the above responses would have garnered Jean’s interest? Or any woman’s? These are trite, kiss-ass replies any man could give to any situation where a woman is complaining.
Charlie by contrast actually listens to her problem, repeats it to her for sake of clarity, then responds with actual good advice. The willingness to tell people what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear is a sure sign of masculine leadership, and neither Jean nor any normal girl will miss it.
The scene eventually transitions to Jean and Charlie making out as Jean’s mother comes to take her daughter home. Note how Jean tries to play it cool here—tries to retake control by acting like the fact that the two of them will likely not see each other again is no big deal.
“Lets not ruin this with a lot of talk,” she says, smiling sheepishly.
Charlie surprises her again. Instead of being the cool guy and saying “Sweeeet, later babe,” he softens his expression (still looking right into her eyes and maintaining a relaxed posture) and says “You didn’t tell me your name.” It’s not even a question, just a simple statement that offers a bit of vulnerability (she can refuse to tell him) and sincerity to an otherwise casual encounter.
“Oh, well it’s…it’s Jean but uh…a lot of…a lot of guys call me ‘Shawna’”
Calling her Jean after she explains that other guys call her Shawna is also deliberate. It is another touch of sincerity—the slight formality of refusing an offered nickname. More importantly it has the effect of separating Charlie from the herd. In effect it says, “I’m not one of the ‘other’ guys, I’m not one of your beta orbiters, I’m Charlie fucking Sheen, and you’re going to remember me. After another decade or two of riding the carousel and then settling down with some boring loser who never fails to call you ‘Shawna’ and sympathize with your first world problems, when you lie awake at night after turning down his feeble attempt to get sex – it is me you are going to sigh and think about.”
The response is immediate—Jean walking away in a fit of giggles. Sheen doesn’t look away until she is gone.
What is the takeaway here? Should you copy Sheen’s technique? Generalize the principles. The specific phrases and actions Sheen takes here will not work on every girl. Note my usage of qualifiers like “decent” and “normal” to describe the sort of women for which this approach can work.
The key thing to remember is that Sheen’s dominance in the encounter comes from the fact that everything he does and says makes obvious to Jean that he does not give a fuck whether or not she likes him. He doesn’t compliment or flatter. He doesn’t sympathize. He straight up insults her but ultimately tells her what she needs to hear, which shows genuine concern for her. Honesty and fearlessness can be powerful aphrodisiacs. Given Jean’s bitchy temperament, Sheen would have gotten nowhere with her had he shown even a little bit of need for her approval. Instead he gets her to seek his approval. This is the essence of game.
Superficially it seems like a “cool” guy being a “jerk” and winning the girl by being a “bad boy.” Look closer and there is a basic principle one can derive about manhood and female selection. Study. Learn. Apply.
Read More: Game Trumps Everything