Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tucker Max: An Explicit Life

There are a few men that I would enjoy having the pleasure of meeting. I would love to meet the Dhalai Lama. Meeting Joss Whedon would be fantastic. I think seeing Eric Whitacre compose music would be the experience of a lifetime. And, then there are men I can affirmatively say that I would rather they not come within a 500 mile radius of myself or the people I care about. Lately, Tucker Max has been climbing to the top of that list.

For those unaware, Tucker Max was an internet blogger who launched a website in 2002 chronicling the supposedly true stories of his drunken experiences and sexual encounters. Whether or not his stories are actually true I won't contest, mainly because 1) I know his rabid fan-base will swear up and down, "Uh-huh! Yeah! It's SO true! Don't you know!? He does this stuff, like, all the time!" (Ugh.) and 2) whatever persona he's presenting has worked itself into the public consciousness so much that, at this point, they may as well be true. When people mention Tucker Max now, they either sneer or laugh. When he comes to town, people either run to the hills and proclaim him a monster, or flock to worship their little celebri-god. Me, personally? Whatever little Calvert Countian that's left inside reaches for his pitchfork and torch, every time. Or, a picket sign, if that's too violent.

Admittedly, when I discovered Tucker Max for the first time, I was a fan, but for a moment. I was 17 - a freshman in college - and I should have known better, but I didn't. I remember sitting in my room, laughing over his stories and reading everyone I could find, but in the pit of my stomach I knew something wasn't right. Slowly, the initial shock value over what I was reading subsided, and that pit started growing deeper and deeper. Each time I read a story, a little bit of shame joined that growing pit. And, then a little bit more. And, a little bit more still. Most of the time when I feel "ashamed" of something, it's usually a situation where I have little to actually worry about and I tell myself to get over it and to, "just be me." This time, alone in my dorm room in front of my computer screen - with no one in front of which to be ashamed - I did something different. I understood that there was something very wrong with what I was reading. And, while I couldn't place what it was, I decided it was best to distance myself from the material. I closed my browser, left to be social, and I remember thinking this exact thought:
"Don't worry. A little shit-site like that? People will get bored with it. It'll eventually die off."
Guess what? Didn't happen. Tucker Max's popularity has only increased over time: manifesting itself into three books, one of which (I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell) will become a full-feature film. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is the representative sample of a genre labeled "fratire" - especially known for its political incorrectness and hypermasculinity. For those unaware, hypermasculinity is one of the primary reasons why homophobia and violence against women is so prevalent in human society. Wikipedia will tell you that fratire is a "reaction" to the feminization of masculinity. The mere fact that its definition implies that its existence is "feminism's" fault should echo the logic of someone telling a victim of spousal abuse that her existence causes her husband to get drunk and throw beer bottles at her to feel more manly.

Anytime I remember that Tucker Max has written a book, I think of this clip.

Above, you'll find an excerpt from the episode titled "Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life." In the course of the episode, Dennis, an egotistical, self-centered, womanizing jackass, decides to write and sell a set of memoirs about his "sexcapades" because, well, he honestly thinks he's that awesome - despite having done nothing of value and contributing nothing to society. Of course, this is part of the premise of It's Always Sunny - it satirizes popular culture by presenting a group of the most heinous, self aggrandizing individuals on the planet Earth whose problems are created entirely by their own egotism. We laugh because we aren't, and don't want to be, these horrible people. The difference between Dennis Reynolds and Tucker Max is simple: Dennis Reynolds is a satirical character created for our amusement and Tucker Max is a real person who (supposedly) really has these adventures. Think hard - that's all there really is.

I understand why the man is appealing, I do. People who paint themselves up - as the rebel, the underdog, the trailblazer, the scoundrel - have an easy appeal. And, why shouldn't they? They do what we want to do, when they want to do it, regardless of society's morays and restrictions. We, as society, eat that shit up and lick the plate. A person comes a long in every generation who breaks down barriers and makes changes - that person always has followers. Sometimes, I think we forget that rebels are cool because they break down walls that need to be broken down. We forget to look at what they're actually doing:

The above article is a solid read with an interesting statistic - read it and tell me what you think below. It seems apparent that Tucker Max is the Dionysus of chauvinism. I'm not a fan of black and white morality, but - as far as I'm concerned - that kinda makes him the antichrist. Just sayin'.


nevie said...

Tucker Max makes me wonder what fucking century we actually live in. He is so outrageously harmful to any sort of progress we may have made since the dawn of time. Enlightened individuals may find him a harmless source of laughter and spectacle but the overall effect of men (even, perhaps more sadly, women) like him, songs like 3oh3's song "don't trust me" have on society is that it reaches the terrifyingly UNenlightened masses who internalize it and put it to use now that it's popular and accepted again.

If I didn't immensely respect you before, THANK YOU so much for challenging men who have such a crippling insecurity and (very likely, a deep wound from a strong woman who made him and his penis feel small). Kudos to you, Ozkirbas.

Dennis said...

Don't you think people who are influenced by Tucker Max are kind of lost anyways?

I listen to 2pac. A lot. I read books about him, watch his videos. I have for years. I don't want to sell crack and shoot people. I don't support the leftist political agenda he pushes.

We grew up in the internet age. We had access to pornography at a young age (most likely). We've been battered by the same types of misogynistic influences our whole lives.

I don't rape women. I don't know a woman who would let a guy spit tobacco into her mouth (WHAT THE FUCK is that about?!! I'm rarely grossed out, but really?!).

I guess I just feel like implying that Tucker Max causes misogyny is like saying violent video games cause violence. Sure, for some easily influenced people, they probably do. But those people are fucked anyways. If it's not Tucker Max or violent video games it would be something else.

nevie said...

*and songs like

I'm in class on my zoomed in iTouch. Tend to lose track of my sentence structure.

And Dennis- TOO many people are easily influenced especially when it comes to something as fluid as social cues and sexual relationships. Violence and hard drugs are a little more cut and dry thanks to legislation. Calling a woman a slut isn't illegal yet. Nor should it have to get to that point.

Damo said...


Kinda tangential, but just curious: what about hard drugs is more cut 'n dry thanks to legislation?

nevie said...

Because of legal repercussions for possession and use, hard drug use influenced by art, however rampant it clearly is anyway, is still far less accepted on a societal whole than making misogynistic comments about a woman in a club or chauvinism within a relationship. Max's form of harmful behavior is more accessible because it becomes a verbal and physical lifestyle that can be acted upon the moment you finish reading his blog and likely not face judicial consequences. Often it is not a conscious choice to engage in that behavior, whereas one has to make a conscious choice to obtain a gun or drugs.

Not that you don't have a point.

While I agree with you that were it not for 2pac or Max, it would be something else, I don't think it makes those issues worth ignoring and challenging.

nevie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nevie said...

So many typos.
*not that dennis doesn't have a point
*ignoring and not challenging

Ozkirbas said...

@ Nevie - Thanks! And, well said. I wouldn't call it unconscious, but I agree with the point.

@ Dennis - Always glad to hear what you have to say. And my answer follows:

- No. For the most part, at least, I don't think the people who are influenced by Tucker Max are lost causes. I just don't think they know better. And, if they do, they don't understand why, "It's a big deal." It's not just rampant fanboyism or lyrical suggestion, but social conditioning and normalization that's at play here. It's a little different from saying "rock music causes riots" (because it doesn't) or "video games makes kids kill" (because that's ridiculous)

People in the late teens to early twenties (or arguably all their lives) are still trying to figure out how to be men or women, respectively. Often, we look to roles and, unfortunately, they tend to conform to two extremes. Hypermasculinity is the utmost extreme of when being "male" is taken too far. By having chauvinism and misogyny constantly reaffirmed as "okay," "normal," "expected," or even "desired," we create a society that's ultimately dangerous for both men AND women. Which, is inherently different from your suggestion about music and 2Pac. It's not just liminal suggestion, but constant reaffirmation and conditioning that's the issue here.

This ties into your comment about constantly being bombarded by misogynistic influences, of which, we are. Not everyone is susceptible, but because it's so prevalent in near-everything a lot more people are effected than you'd typically expect. We're not talking the suggestion that a few kids who played Grand Theft Auto and decided to gun down a school because it looked fun - we're talking something far more insidious. And violent crime statistics support that, yeah, it has a serious effect on people, particularly crimes such as stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

That said, I don't think Tucker Max "causes" misogyny (I wouldn't give him that much credit), but I will say that he at least stokes the fire. If anything, he's just another byproduct of a society that supports hypermasculinity and other variables that produced him. However, the problem is that it's a cycle that feeds into itself. Byproducts feed into a system that produce more byproducts that feed into a system... you get the picture. And, if you don't buy that so much, think of it from this perspective: It creates a society where people who subscribe to misogyny as "good" feel safe and accepted. And that isn't a good thing.

Metaphor time: Think of misogyny as the body of a hydra and Tucker Max as one of a thousand heads. Sure, if he goes down there's plenty more, but one head can do a LOT of damage. And, at this point, Tucker Max is a larger head than most.

And, it would be something else, but right now it's Tucker Max. If people won't oppose someone as small as an little internet celebrity, society won't ever change. And social change is the ultimate goal, here. You oppose it and hope those in the audience who are thinking, "Hey, maybe they're right" will stand up and leave it behind. Or support your cause. Either one.

nevie said...

@ Oz - I wouldn't call it unconscious either all the time, but certainly begins to happen more quickly and more often than engaging in gun violence or cocaine use (without pretending that those two things do not happen far too often) and therefore can happen with a lesser degree of consciousness.

Dennis said...

Your position is valid, you just seem to be a bit more optimistic about the situation than me.

It does influence people greatly, myself included. There's a fine line between real masculinity and chauvinism. I cross it sometimes, but am at least aware of it at this point and trying to correct the problem. That's more than I could say for myself 4-5 years ago.

I guess I'm just being arrogant, assuming that recognizing the problem, and *attempting* to change is something beyond the "masses".

If the "hydra" of misogyny is slain, (I'm not sure that it ever will be considering this has been ingrained in humanity, for the most part, there are some exceptions, since its inception.) there will be some other outside influences looking to capitalize on easily impressionable/lost people.

But you're right. We might as well do what we can.

Ozkirbas said...

@Dennis - Your question was also valid. It was actually the exact question I'd hoped someone would ask. I find that you usually do that, be it my posts or others.

It is totally weird for me when someone says I'm more optimistic about something than they are. So, so weird.

If you slay a hydra, and no one's around to see it, is it still metal?

Dennis said...

If you can slay a hydra by yourself.....

Yeah, I guess that's metal.

Now, if you can tame a hydra, and ride it into righteous battle against an army of the undead.


*cue speed metal riff and double bass*

Stephen said...

This guy reminds me of Tom Cruise's character in Magnolia.