The Rise and Fall of Tucker Max (Part 2)

(This is a guest post I wrote for In Mala Fide. Please read and comment on it here.)

This is the boilerplate on It hasn’t changed since I found the site, sometime in 2005:

” I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.

But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world. They are known as…The Tucker Max Stories.”

At the start of his writing career, Tucker Max – or at least the slice of his personality that he portrayed in his writing – was the ultimate embodiment of raw, unfiltered id. He completely rejected the social and moral constraints that society tried to impose on him – on all of us – and lived his life according to no laws other than those which the natural world imposed on him

As I explained in Part 1, this was the core of his appeal to my generation. Young Millennial men had been offered a bum deal of a social contract, and it’s no mystery that the first man who gave us permission to leave it on the table sold two million books.

So what does a man who has completely rejected society’s expectations look like?

Well, that really is the question of the hour. Possibly of the decade. Tucker’s answer was to get obscenely drunk, mock idiots and posers, etc. Was such a lifestyle immature, pointless, and self-destructive? Sure. But it was preferable to the emasculation prescribed to my generation by mainstream culture. Tucker Max’s fundamental message is that there are alternatives to obedience. You don’t need to spend your life tip-toeing around the self-serving expectations of others.

That was the message that resonated with millions of young men (and women) during the height of Max’s fame. It was a message many of us desperately needed to hear.

But now Max has retracted that message, and replaced it with an ethos of apology, submission, and approval-seeking. He is sorry for what he’s done! It’s not his fault, his family was mildly dysfunctional! He’s undergoing psychoanalysis to address his issues!

More generally, he is done with giving the middle finger to mainstream society. He is ready to tuck his chin down, avoid the hard questions about the culture that made him a celebrity, and live out his twilight years chasing wheat grass shots with hot yoga classes and blurry-eyed, quivery-lipped talk therapy sessions. He is returning to the mainstream media, hat in hand, begging for forgiveness in the most fashionable way – striking the pose of victimhood. Switch out a few details in his Forbes interview, and he could be mistaken for a repentant Lindsay Lohan.


Why the switch?

I’m no psychoanalyst, but here’s the theory I’m working with until something better comes along:

At some point over the past five years, Tucker Max gave up his faith in himself. His first book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, sold 1.6 million copies. For a relatively unknown internet writer, this was ridiculously impressive.

After that:

1) He started Rudius Media. It folded.

2) The IHTSBIH film bombed, losing six million dollars

3) Assholes Finish First sold a quarter as many copies as IHTSBIH: “…around 1.6 million for the first one, and around 400,000 for the second”

Other than that, I don’t really know what Tucker Max has been working on over the past decade. Maybe he has ongoing projects that he keeps to himself, but he has been poison to pretty much everything he’s (publicly) touched since IHTSBIH. I don’t know how he’s doing financially, but G Manifesto makes a pretty convincing case that his bankroll might be getting thin.

Whatever the details – Tucker Max followed up the initial success of his first book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, with a string of cataclysmic failures that shook him to his core.

IHTSBIH was supposed to be the humble beginning of Tucker Max’s career. Instead, it was his peak. The unstoppable force of Max’s ambition ran up against an immovable object – the cold reality of the anticlimactic follow-up to his initial success. He didn’t survive the ensuing collision.

Stay tuned for part 3.