Monday, July 13, 2009

Attitude vs. Skill

Studying alpha male body language by means of old movies, TV series or dude flicks is fun and educating.

According to Keith Johnston, there are two types of actors when it comes to conveying social status: low and high status "specialists". And it is the latter we can all learn from if we want to improve our standing in life.

Now, in most cases the alpha male character is also a caricature of the ever-winning hero (this is why so many guys imitate a movie screen hero caricature and believe they are acting alpha - a classic case of cum hoc ergo propter hoc).

Not so Kenny Powers of HBO's comedy series "Eastbound and Down" (and no, I still don't have a TV).

Powers has many traits that people confuse with alpha status: He is the typical loud and rowdy, opinionated, macho, Type A personality bordering on sociopathy that society brands "alpha" (and thereby failing to acknowledge the fact that many faggoty pop stars beat such guys in pussy-magnetism by orders of magnitude).
, he also is the type of guy who most people consider a complete fuck-up. He's the classic anti-hero: A guy who once was great (major league baseball star) and has yet come to grasp with his demise.

In his mind (inevitably mirrored in the minds of others around him), he is the shit. Yet, for most viewers is just a Lewboski-esque loser. He's an alpha male by action and a bum by life style. It's a classic case of Natural Status versus Societal Position. This is the very basis of the comedic effect, of course, but it is also a great way to study how alpha body language and attitude reflect upon other people. Take this example:

In this scene, Kenny tries to score himself a "celebrity event" (in his mind worth thousand of bucks). Just minutes into the conversation, he gets out-alpha'ed by the owner of the shop and ends up with a $200 deal for a night of utter embarrassment (not shown).

What Kenny exemplifies here and throughout the entire series is an interesting case of a conflict between Skill and Attitude - and the resulting clash with reality.

We all know them. There are guys who believe that they are the shit. Period. Many of them lack anything of value for society. Or, like Kenny Powers, they are way past their prime (if you think of it, the unfriendliness of old people often is just a sign of their cognitive dissonance between assumed social status and the lack of respect they get from a society that deems them useless in the sexual and monetary domain).
Yet, these people are somehow completely convinced that they deserve a big piece of the cake. And if they become aware of their rightward-tilted Skill-to-Attitude balance, they will justify themselves by means of metaphysical thoughts such as "it's not what you do, but what you think that matters" (see: positive thinking, the law of attraction, creative visualization and personal power).

It can go the other way, too. There are some men who possess what it takes. They have the education, the money, the power, the knowledge, the skill. Yet, in their mind they are just average. They mostly do not realize when someone screws them over, and if they do - they accept it as part of life. These guys are the typical hard working nice guys that society is built upon. They have higher skill than attitude, and it will serve them well. But their path to sex with amazing women and the upper floors in the corporate buildings is steep and stony.

A perfect balance between Skill and Attitude is what it takes to win. If you can back up your gargantuan ego by acts of glory, you will go down in history. Doing great things while knowing what you're worth is the Golden Key. Just thinking you're great will not make you millions. And just doing great will earn you butt fucks over and over again.

But, Attitude alone can get you far. Very far.

Thanks to his attitude, Kenny gets away with almost anything. He is wrecking cars, cursing at friends, family and their kids. And the fact that he does so at the expense of others does not take the least from the support he gets from all these people.

The reason for that is that people tend to accept and copy your self image until counter evidence gets too overwhelming. This is especially true for women (and omega males yearning for "old brother-type" role models). Actual skill (and money, cars etc.) are way down the vag moisturizer scale compared to attitude. And whoever wrote the script to the series is aware of that. Kenny is a ladies man (the only woman Kenny can't get is the one he's got one-itis for. Until he gives up on her that is. The moment he stops chasing her, she wants to join his life. Ahhh, the comedic qualities of female desire...).


  1. if you think of it, the unfriendliness of old people often is just a sign of their cognitive dissonance between assumed social status and the lack of respect they get from a society that deems them useless in the sexual and monetary domain

    True that. And, as you say here too, it happens with younger people too.

  2. "We all know them. There are guys who believe that they are the shit. "

    Great post 11.

    Yes, there are plenty of guys and gals that think they are still the shit. You touched on the reason why (in Powers' case). He played baseball. One doesn't have to go pro to suffer from Powers' shortcomings though. I know so many men and women who were the shit in high school. They played sports. They were glorified by their peers and people older than them. Cheerleaders were treated the same way.

    They viewed themselves that way; they got a big head, and as a self-defense mechanism, instead of changing, they remained the same. When life catches up with them, they still have that over-inflated sense of self-worth.

    "Doing great things while knowing what you're worth is the Golden Key."

    This is entirely correct. Perspective and insight are the key. You have to have the tools, but more importantly you have to know how to apply those tools. Even more important than that, you have to know if you have the consistency to see that application through to fruition.

  3. he's a similar lovable loser in Foot Fist Way....he is f'ing hilarious. Loved that movie..been hearing about this series for awhile, i'm dl'ing it via torrent based on your post. much appreciated. i don't own a TV either...and i'm all the better for it.

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