Is Anita Sarkeesian secretly trying to hypnotize us all with her videos? Like, literally hypnotize us, in the “now you’re a chicken” sense?
That’s the central insinuation of an inadvertently hilarious video by YouTube blabber Jordan Owen, one of the guys behind that Sarkeesian Effect “documentary” that’s allegedly in the process of being made.
Owen’s video isn’t a particularly new one – he put it out in January – but it’s been recently resurrected by the good folks at A Voice for Men, who reposted it earlier this week, saying that it offered “very thoughtful, erudite” criticism of Sarkeesian that’s “particularly enlightening and full of information a lot of people don’t know.”
So that’s a good enough excuse for me to talk about it. Also, did I mention that the video is hilarious?
In the video, a weirdly soft-spoken Owen – he sounds as if he’s recording in the living room of his parents’ house and trying desperately not to wake anyone up – breathlessly announces that he’s going to help to “elucidate” an important piece of information that will fill in a hole in the alleged puzzle that is Anita Sarkeesian.
Owen points out that Sarkeesian apparently once worked for a guy named Bart Baggett, a huckster and self-proclaimed handwriting expert who also dabbles in Neurolinguistic Programing, or NLP, a questionable form of hypnosis based around the idea that you can hypnotize people, possibly against their will, in the course of normal conversation by embedding secret commands into the words you choose.
NLP , while largely discredited in scientific circles, has long been popular with pickup artists, who would of course love to be able to hypnotize women into doing their bidding. It was central to the ridiculous “speed seduction” techniques that a guy named Ross Jeffries began teaching in the 1990s.
Jeffries’ most mockable claim: that if a wannabe Casanova works the phrase “below me” into conversation with a Hot Babe, she will subconsciously hear the phrase as a command to “blow me” and will suddenly feel a desire to do just that.
While this particular bit of speed seduction lore has fallen by the wayside due to its sheer and obvious silliness, there’s a lot of NLP still embedded, as it were, in PUA techniques even today.
So what does this have to do with Anita Sarkeesian? Well, according to Owen, the devilish Ms. Sarkeesian is embedding secret hypnotic commands into her fundraising videos in an attempt to control our brains and empty our wallets.
Owen drags out a pdf he found by Baggett called “The Secrets to Creating Chemistry,” which Owen seems to think Sarkeesian is using as her super seekrit mind control manual.
One of Baggett’s techniques, Owen tells us ominously, is something called “Adverb/Adjective Presupposition,” which is basically a trick to supposedly get your listeners to agree with your premises by … using adverbs before verbs and adjectives before nouns. Devious indeed!
Owen quotes one of Baggett’s examples, evidently intended to show how you can successfully use Adverb/Adjective Presupposition to con a Hot Babe into bed with you:
Have you asked yourself if the unlimited potential of our relationship is what is making you so happy?
Another one I found in Baggett’s manual:
Have you naturally discovered how attractive you are becoming?
If even one single woman ever had sex with a guy who said either of these things to her first I will eat my cats. This is why people laugh at NLP.
Owen plays back a sentence from Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter video, which he thinks provide clear evidence that she’s using Baggett’s word voodoo in order to hypnotize us all. Be careful, lest you yourself become hypnotized just by reading this! Here’s Sarkeesian:
Have you ever noticed that, with a few notable exceptions, basically all female characters in video games fall into a small handful of clichés and stereotypes?
Huh. That’s actually tru ….. OH NO I HAVE BEEN HYPNOTIZED!
Owen devotes the rest of his video to uncovering more alleged evidence of Sarkeesian’s alleged use of Baggett’s alleged techniques, winding up with what he describes as “perhaps Anita’s most subtle and insidious use of these techniques” – that is, her alleged use of “embedded language.”
The phrase “embedded language” doesn’t actually mean anything, as fazr as I can tell, and Baggett doesn’t use it in his manual. Owen seems to mean what Baggett calls “magic words” – words intended to get your target all excited about you – and “embedded commands” – secret commands you can work into your conversation.
In any case, Owen posts assorted screenshots of Baggett’s lists of “magic words” and “embedded commands” and then – dun dun DUUUH! – demonstrates that Sarkeesian in fact uses lots of these words in her Kickstarter video!
This would be a smoking gun, except for one little problem: the words on Baggett’s lists are some of the most commonly used words in the English language. It would be pretty much impossible to communicate without them (or their counterparts in other languages).
Here are some the evil “embedded” words Owen finds in Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter video:
Ok, ok, I’m going to have to stop for a moment to acknowledge this last one.
JORDAN OWEN LITERALLY THINKS ANITA SARKEESIAN IS TRYING TO HYPNOTIZE US BY USING THE PAST TENSE OF THE VERB “TO BE.”
A few more of the evil voodoo words and phrases she uses:
“In addition to”
“Have you ever”
I have a question: Have you ever watched a video so incredibly obtuse that you begin to wonder how humankind ever made it out of the caves in the first place?
Because I just did.
Owen ends his video with some comments that are far more manipulative than anything Anita Sarkeesian has ever said probably, ever, in her whole life:
Remember that the techniques Anita used in her video are those of the seduction gurus.
Wait, isn’t that use of the word “remember” an EMBEDDED COMMAND basically ordering us to accept his interpretation of what Sarkeesian was saying?
If you condemn the behavior in the form of men trying to manipulate women into the sack, then you must condemn Anita’s behavior as well because, while she is not a feminist, nor is she a gamer, nor is she a legitimate academic, she is, from a technical standpoint, a pickup artist.
Don’t PRESUPPOSITION me bro!
If Jordan Owen were the main character in Bioshock, I would ask him: Would you kindly develop a tiny shred of self-awareness?
If you’ve played Bioshock, you would know that this was an extremely clever reference to (SPOILER ALERT) a key plot point.
Crap, I inadvertently tried to hypnotize you with PRESUPPOSITIONAL WORD VOODOO in that last sentence.
Sorry! I’ll just stop right now, before I accidentally raise hundreds of thousands of dollars on Kickstarter.
Well, in a second. First, here’s a diagram from Baggett’s manual that I find sort of hilariously baroque:
And here’s Owen’s ridiculous video:
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not shaved in several days, and I also have some videos up on YouTube (including this one of Owen’s Anton LaVey-looking pal David Aurini), so technically I am also a YouTube Neckbeard.
CREDIT: Thanks to Brooked for the meme graphic up top, and to Hellboy to alerting me to the existence of Owen’s delightful video in the first place.