Is Tucker Max A "Hero?"

Illustration for article titled Is Tucker Max A Hero?

According to one guy in Palo Alto, hells yeah! And according to New York Magazine's Vulture blog, the "fratirist" might be building a media empire from the ground up, like Tyler Perry — kind of.


New York blogger Dan Kois writes that Max independently financed his upcoming movie I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, turning down $2 million from Searchlight because, "It's, like, what's $2 million if they own your life? I'd rather die standing than live with their boot on my neck." Principles intact, this booze-swilling, girl-dissing, "professional at humiliating and 'debasing' people" has staked his future on the film. He told Chris Lee of the LA Times:

If it fails, the investors lose everything and we got nothing but a . . . movie. But if it works, man! We have not just done an independent movie with a $7-million budget. We distributed it and marketed it ourselves. It's super risky, I know. But if it works, we own the movie outright.


Kois writes that if Max's film succeeds, "he's set himself up to become the next Tyler Perry. Like Perry, Max has built a grassroots following through constant touring, mostly under the radar of the mainstream media." Kois describes this audience as "the kids just out of college (or barely into it) who read his blog, swarm his book signings, laugh when he insults them, and have sex with him in the end zone of a Florida football stadium." Lee was fortunate enough to interview one of these "kids," a 25-year-old graphic designer from Palo Alto who says,

The guy is a hero to me. The coolest person on the planet. He gives you hope: that you don't have to play by the rules and you can have fun by doing whatever the hell you want.

Presumably those "rules" are made by all those powerful female leaders of the world who make sure that no one ever objectifies, humiliates, or takes advantage of women. It really is refreshing that someone has the courage to call a girl a "slut" for once in this repressive climate where women's sexual behavior goes un-judged and un-commented upon. And that someone's finally speaking up for all the silenced frat boys of the world.

Kois does seem to be buying this, a little bit. He writes,

[L]ike Perry, Max serves a niche audience that major studios can have trouble reaching. In Perry's case, it was middle-class blacks, a group Hollywood had mostly given up on. For the young people who make up Max's fan base, that's never been an issue; in fact, you might complain that nearly every movie made today is designed to appeal to under-25s. But they're an audience that's never been big on brand loyalty, and Max is one of the first entertainers to capture and hold their attention on the Internet - and then translate that attention into real kids spending real dollars.


So while Max's audience — the douchebags and douchebag-allies for whom mainstream film basically exists — might not be as underserved as Perry's, he's still noteworthy for his attempt to take Internet fame to the box office? Frankly, if Max is able to make money by putting misogyny on film as well on his blog, it'll be about as surprising as dudes drinking beer out of both bottles and cans.

However, Max is now claiming he's offering something deeper than sexism (which "isn't the same as misogyny, you stupid bitch"). He says he now wants to do a four-movie series cataloguing his character's — and his own — transformation "from a functional narcissist to a caring narcissist." While this maturation from dick to less-of-a-dick does sound heartwarming, the cad-turned-standup-guy-with-no-long-term-repercussions is hardly a new Hollywood archetype. The Sexist's Amanda Hess points out that all of Tucker Max's jokes can be broken down into a few simple formulas. And Perry comparisons notwithstanding, all of the Tucker Max "phenomenon" is pretty much like this: same shit, different package.


Is Tucker Max The Next Tyler Perry? [New York Magazine: Vulture Blog]
The Anatomy Of A Tucker Max Joke [The Sexist]
Tucker Max In A 'Hell' Of His Own Making [LA Times]

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When settling into my seat for a long flight recently, I noticed right away that my 20-something dude seatmate was reading, "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell." Because of his choice of reading material, I immediately assumed that he'd be a frat-tastic assclown and a boorish seat partner. And yet, he didn't complain once about being crammed into the smallest middle seat I have ever seen, he apologized every time his elbow slid a millimeter past the mid point on the arm rest, he apologized profusely each time he asked me to get up to let him out of his seat, and he was overly gracious to both the male and female flight attendants.

Long story short, all evidence pointed to the fact that this was a kind, compassionate young man. And the fact that this type of young man was a Tucker Max follower made me want to jump out of the plane.

And no, Tucker Max is a not a goddamn hero. Being brave and being a self-serving asshole on a public stage are not one and the same.