The video that started it all!
A gun-toting, 46 year old man with the swag of Hank Hill has inadvertently placed himself in the centre of an online conversation about attractiveness, gender, and misogyny. In a video published by a group called “Tactical Response,” which normally programs their YouTube channel with videos of dudes firing off rifles at the gun range, Dana McClendon, a divorce and family law lawyer from Nashville, TN, stands in front of a white board and demonstrates the “Universal Hot/Crazy Matrix” which he says is “everything a young man needs to know about women.”
The video is ostensibly a comedy routine, which some viewers have observed to be a light-hearted, pseudo-science elaboration of this terrible joke from How I Met Your Mother.
According to Dana’s video, women break down into seven zones: the No Go Zone (for women who are unattractive and crazy), the Danger Zone (for women who are attractive, but crazy), the Fun Zone (for women who are fairly attractive but not very crazy), the Date Zone (for attractive women who are kinda crazy), the Wife Zone (for women who are very attractive but only a little crazy), and the Unicorn Zone (a place where mythical creatures dwell: i.e., attractive women who are barely crazy).
Then, finally, there is the “Tranny Zone,” for attractive women who aren’t crazy at all. Because we all know that if you’re talking to a hot lady who’s not a psychopath, she’s probably a dude who’s all pumped up on estrogen injections. Even though many of us are trying to progress towards a society devoid of transphobia, it would still be totally gross to end up getting tricked into dating one, bro!
Unsurprisingly, Dana’s video has pissed off a lot of people. The original clip is well over 830,000 views, and shorter versions of it have sprung up on Facebook, WorldStarHipHop, and anywhere you can find low-quality internet comedy videos. I called Dana on his cell phone to talk to him about the shitstorm he’s brought upon himself.
VICE: Are you surprised by the amount of attention your video has got?
Dana McClendon: I didn’t expect that millions of people would see it. I guess it’s viral. I never contemplated that would happen.
Is it a joke? Or is it something that you seriously believe?
Of course it is, of course it’s a joke. I don’t know what video you saw—there’s the original video, that’s seven minutes long. And then one that many people have seen has been clipped, and edited down to five minutes. The one that’s seven minutes long, it’s much more obvious, because there’s an intro, [that it’s a joke].
I originally saw the clipped one, but then I found the original video that Tactical Response posted…
That’s the original. I think it should be fairly obvious when I introduce myself as “the terrorist mouthpiece” that we’re kidding around.
So I guess it’s kinda frustrating to have an out-of-context version floating around out there?
Yeah, I wish people would have just linked to the one that we made. I don’t know why they didn’t, but there’s a couple of dudes out there using it to solicit wives. They clip it and put it on their own YouTube or Facebook page and say, “Hey if you’re in the wife zone, hit me up.”
Are you married?
[Laughs] I’ve been married for 22 years.
What does your wife think of this?
She thinks it’s funny, and she tells me every day she’s a unicorn.
OK. Do you regret making the video now, because of how popular it’s gotten?
No… I’m sorry that there’s people who have gotten so offended, but I know we were goofing around, I know how I lead my life… Some of the people who are the most outraged are quick to then throw names at me like “pig” and “fat” and “ugly” and “stupid.” I don’t regret it, but I never figured that millions of people would see it.
Dana in his natural habit. via Facebook.
What is your relationship with Tactical Response? How did this all come about?
Oh, James, the guy that runs Tactical Response, is a friend and a client. It was completely spontaneous. I was there one day, we were having a conversation, he said something about someone’s girlfriend, and I said, “Oh, danger zone.” And he said, “What do you mean?” And I drew the chart for him. And he said, “Oh that’s funny, you should do a video.” And I said, OK, let’s do it!
Literally one take. Five minutes, beginning to end, done. Then he posted it a couple of days later, and that was less than two weeks ago.
So had you already preconceived that chart? Or did you make it up on the spot?
I had shown people that on napkins, I had done it jokingly, and everyone I showed it to was like, “Oh my god, that’s hilarious.”
Are you wearing a gun on your hip during that video?
OK, cool. So I guess you guys are obviously pro-gun rights?
[Laughs] Well, yeah. The presence of the gun in the video is a complete coincidence, other than the fact that I carry. It wasn’t there for making a statement or anything. People have observed that, but I carry a gun, so…
I’m Canadian, so it stands out more. But I guess it’s normal for you.
Yeah. It’s an everyday thing for me.
Are you familiar with pick-up artists?
No, they’re guys who develop strategies and tactics for picking up women at bars or out in public.
Oh, no, I’m 46 and I’ve been married for a long time to a girl I met when I was 18.
Alright, your video has a lot of similarities to the type of pseudo-science they practice for picking up women.
Like I said, it’s farcical, parody, comedy, from beginning to end. I certainly don’t think anyone should follow this advice literally.
It does kinda seem like some people are taking it literally.
I think it’s hit a nerve.
Why do you think it’s hit a nerve?
Because I think the best comedy makes us examine ourselves, and our beliefs, and things we take for granted. The best comedy is sometimes irreverent.
Sometimes you challenge your beliefs and you validate the belief, other times you challenge it and you think, “Maybe I should think a little differently.”
Following that thought, what is the comedy in your video trying to accomplish?
Overwhelmingly guys laugh at this and go, “Yeah I get it.” So to some extent, it is locker room humour, fine. If you want to be critical of that, that’s fine. On the other hand it is kinda mocking the way guys look at the world. If you have a guy who thinks like this, in this simplistic fashion, there are guys that think that way, and I’m mocking that.
A lot of people said I stole this from How I Met Your Mother. Well, no. How I Met Your Mother is the first place a lot of people saw this, but this conversation has been going on between men and women forever. Apparently it hits a little too close to home for some people. You could probably find someone to tell you why they’re bent out shape.
I guess people would say it’s sexist to reduce women to a number rating. That’s probably why most people are upset.
OK, but pay close attention to the video. I said, in the video, that if she’s not a 5 in your mind… I could have put “attractive” rather than hot, and that could have encompassed humour, intellect, common interests… I used some rather simplistic terms, but the reality is if you’re not attracted to someone then you’re not going to pursue them. I could have put, on the horizontal axis, “overall attractiveness, including her personality, her intellect, her humour, her interests, whatever.”
But I did say, a 5 in your mind. I didn’t say a 5 in my mind, or a 5 in the eyes of Hollywood, or a 5 in the eyes of fashion. It should be kinda obvious that everyone needs to pick what they’re after.
Yeah. And you have found your unicorn? They do exist?
Oh yeah. Every dude that sees this should take the opportunity to show it to his significant other and tell her she’s a unicorn.
That’s good advice. Will you be doing any more videos of this sort or has this whole experience turned you off?
I thought about doing one with my wife… so we’ll see.
Yeah we’ll see if she’ll go for that!
[Laughs] She very well might. You can imagine the type of person that would put up with me for 28 years.
I bet. Anything you’d like to add?
I would like for people to realize that, just like no complex relationship can be reduced to a two-dimensional chart, I’m not just some poster boy for misogyny. I’m actually a real guy with a real wife and a real family, and a mother, and a sister, and nieces… People that are making me into a caricature for misogyny, I get it, but they should probably slow their roll. I’m not really that guy.
Some would argue that you made yourself into a caricature of misogyny.
Oh I get it. I made the video. I’m not blaming anyone else for me making the video. I’m just saying, take a minute, take a deep breath… Way uglier things have been said to me and about me [in the comments] than anything else in that video. So, let’s all just realize that nothing is all that it may first appear. It’s gonna be OK.
Yeah, it’s gonna be OK. Thanks man.