IMDB discussion board for 'I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell'
Today, I want to repost an entry that was posted to the IDMB board this morning, because it's the single most accurate and insightful discussion of the 'phenomenon' of Tucker Max that I've yet read. The author goes by the name 'favabeansandanicechianti' on IMDB, and he or she deserves a tip-of-the-hat for this piece. It's a bit longer than most of the entries on this blog, but it's well worth reading. Enjoy it!
His Recommended books: an insight into Tucker's world-view
When I first discovered Tucker Max in late 2005 at the age of 21, I was drawn to what I thought was a fascinating and complex contrarian, a subversive iconoclast and maverick, an eccentric and creative person living authentically and on his own terms. A sort of modern-day Lord Byron. I didn’t think there were people like that still out there living in the world, and I was really intrigued by the persona that I wanted to believe was true of the person. Also, being a college student I was of course awed by his supposed wild antics, drinking prowess, and sexual conquests.
As the past five years went by and my own outlook on life matured-- all the while occasionally following his site, his movie blog, and his words and actions surrounding the movie and its promotion-- I realized that I had seen a certain early clue as to what his primary motivation and world-view had either become or always had been.
That early clue was an annotated list of books on his website which he cited as the biggest influences on his writing, thinking and how he lived his life. The list included “Sperm Wars,” “The Red Queen”, and “The 48 Laws of Power”. Actually, that third book may not have been on the list, but I know based on his message board posts that he was very into that book and the writings and philosophy of its author Robert Greene (who was also a featured blogger on the short-lived Rudius Media blogging network). These books are all great and I would encourage anyone to read them; they are truly eye-opening and will give you a lot to think about. They also provide insightful context for what most people who’ve followed him over the years now realize about how Tucker’s mind works.
(The list is still on his site at http://www.tuckermax.com/other/the-tucker-max-reading-list/but it has changed over the years, removing "The Red Queen" and others while adding some new ones.)
Taken together, the world-view that emerges from these three books is that life is an amoral, opportunistic, anything-goes power-struggle to gain as much status (wealth/resources/power/fame) as you can (as a male) in order to have as much reproductive access to women as you can get. The “game of life” is won by males who successfully pursue their two purposes in life: (1) acquire status and resources in order to attract women; and (2) achieve reproductive success (ideally with many different attractive women). Think Donald Trump, Hugh Hefner, Tiger Woods, etc.
Over the years, I think that Tucker became increasingly obsessed with this idea of being an “alpha male,” with always pushing to advance his status in order to get as many women as possible. He may have started out in his late 20s caring about the craft of writing, wanting simply to be a great writer, the next John Kenney Toole(!), and wanting to live the renegade bohemian life that many young men (and women) seem to romanticize. His big message in the early years from 2005-2009 was that the drinking and partying and screwing weren’t really the reason for his appeal; rather, it was that he was someone who had done everything by the books (University of Chicago undergrad and Duke Law School), but then had decided to give it all up in order “to be true to himself,” opting instead to pursue his real passion for writing, fight the man and "live on his own terms."
(Personally I think that this was always BS and he knew it, trying to intellectualize what was nothing more than a lucky break into publishing a few sensationalistic sex-and-beer stories that he wrote for a quick shot at fame and a quick buck. But this is just a classic example among countless cases of Tucker “re-framing” reality with his own spin. He somehow was such a screw-up that he got fired three weeks into his 2L summer job for acting up, something that is basically unheard of in the legal profession and would have seriously damaged if not altogether torpedoed his legal career. But Tucker always finds a way to “own” his failures and claim that they are really somehow “successes”. It’s quite astounding how brazenly he does it, really.)
At any rate, by his early 30s—as happens to many men—he started to realize that his whole rebel-writer-who-tells-poopy-joke shtick has an inherently short shelf life and doesn’t mean *beep* in the real world. He probably saw all his former classmate at Duke Law—you know, the ones who actually went to class—driving Porsches (meanwhile he had a crappy tiny apartment in Chicago/NYC and then an even tinier crappy apartment with roommates in LA). He certainly would have looked around in LA while producing his movie and realized that funny stories and acting cocky-funny may get you laid with 7s and 8s one weekend at a time, but if you really want to bring home the big game (the 10s, the models and actresses), you need to grow up and start gaining some serious status and making some serious bucks (i.e. build up a Rudius Media Empire). On some level he decided (although maybe this was really the sole goal all along) that the single most important thing in his life was to live up to his “I’m an alpha male” mantra and aggressively pursue status/wealth/power/fame. That’s when all his talk started about taking over the world with his Rudius Media Empire (a major independent film studio like Lionsgate! Crossbow ranges! Private jets!). Sadly for him, after reaching the highest he fell the furthest and hardest.
I don’t think he has yet learned the humility required to dust himself off, admit he failed abysmally, learn from it, and try again. I don’t think he ever will. I think he will take the easy way out, which is to live indefinitely in denial that he did anything wrong. He will probably follow A$$holes Finish First with one more book he promised over the last year or two (Hilarity Ensues?)-- IF he's able to get that published, and that's a big if-- and maybe a "tell-all" book about the movie (a "cautionary tale for indie filmmakers"?) -- and will do a few more speaking tours with naïve 21-year-olds before his dwindling D-list web-celebrity and the IHTSBIH book sales have flat-lined by late 2011, and then… I just don't see him ever being able to work in film again as a producer after losing 10 million on his debut-- at least, not with anyone else's money. He might be able to find some work as a TV show comedy writer in Austin or back in NYC (not possible in LA after pulling a Troy Duffy and burning every possible bridge)-- but if there's anything he's proved all these years it's that he's incapable of working FOR anyone else, and has an extremely difficult time working WITH anyone else, so I don't really see that playing out unless he evolves.
In any case, I just don’t see him ever really being heard of again (at least, not in any productive, significant way), because that would require him to admit how much he’s screwed up and screwed people over before moving on. He would rather spend the rest of his 30s and all of his 40s sitting in bars in Austin telling impressionable Texas college girls that he is “a New York Times bestselling author Duke Law grad with a movie about his life,” buying them a couple beers and then taking them back to his *beep* little apartment for a sloppy night with "the jackhammer". Rinse, repeat. Getting a creepy reputation? Start frequenting a different bar. While a pitiably empty way to live out your life, it’s an easy-out. But of course that's speculation, who knows? I'd say everyone deserves a second chance, but there are exceptions to every aphorism, and in this case Tucker Max is probably it.