Pickup artist culture gets a blunt rejection

Canceled visas, dropped events -- it's a bad time to be Julien Blanc and company

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published November 14, 2014 7:33PM (EST)

Julien Blanc      (YouTube/RSDJulien)
Julien Blanc (YouTube/RSDJulien)

You might want to look into landing on a comet, Julien Blanc. Because this planet is rapidly becoming a less hospitable place to ply your trade.

Earlier this month, the "executive coach" for Real Social Dynamics, a business devoted to teaching men how to turn their lives into a "carnival of sexual abundance," found his world tour of pickup artist seminars abruptly thrown into turmoil. After YouTube clips of him offering tips like "If you’re in Tokyo, and you’re a white male, you can do what you want" and evidence of his hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld started making the rounds, an online petition to get the hotels he'd booked for the Australian leg of his seminar rapidly gained thousands of signatures – and got his event canceled by the Como Hotel in Melbourne. Then the ##StopJulienBlanc movement took off -- and things really started snowballing.

Last week Australia revoked his visa outright, with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison saying, “This guy wasn’t putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women and that’s just something, those are values abhorred in this country." Blanc quietly left the country immediately after. Now, Brazilian officials have vowed to deny him a visa as well, citing "enough elements'' for cause, and his entry to the U.K. for a forthcoming event there is now also under review, with the shadow home secretary urging, "We need to send a clear message from Britain about zero tolerance of violence against women and girls." On Friday, more than a thousand people RSVPed for a protest to keep him out of Berlin. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., hotels like Austin's Hilton Garden Inn have announced that they too are dropping Real Social Dynamics' upcoming seminars, and sites like EventBrite are dumping their events from their listings.

But Blanc, who has recently set his "Diss Fatties Bang Hotties"-centric Twitter feed to private, is not the only member of the Real Social Dynamics team to come under scrutiny. Meet his colleague Owen "Tyler" Cook -- who also has a charming trail of terrible advice and grotesque brags in social media history as well, including a clip in which he educates students about how to approach women by telling them to imagine raping a dead lion. In another, he describes an encounter with a "a full, slut whore slut" in which the woman wasn't into it but he proceeded because "I'm never seeing this bitch again. I don't care." And though it's not really rape culture relevant, don't miss the clip where he's laughingly presenting his son to the audience and saying, "You're an accident! That's right, you're an accident!"

Real Social Dynamics is still a big operation with many planned seminars and events still on its calendar. And of course, it's not the only pickup artist enterprise out there. But it and other operations like RSD have been able to sell their revolting tactics and spread their hideous message for a long time largely because they've gone unquestioned. And that is changing. The venues that host them, the ticketing agencies they use, even the nations they visit -- they are being challenged by consumers who are questioning those who harbor them and demanding accountability. And now, these sleazes are at last facing the worst thing a pickup artist can experience – rejection. But don't go away mad, guys. Just go away.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Julien Blanc Owen "tyler" Cook Pickup Artists Real Social Dynamics