Whether it's his offhand-way of dropping misogyny, his female-rating system that puts how-many-beers-til-she's-hot-Yalies to shame, or his website that requires only the most minimal of minimal perusals to incite any feminist, it's not difficult to dislike Tucker Max. He's been utterly dissed by the Hater, called a "gender traitor" by Glamour's Ryan Dodge, and this is most definitely not the first time he's been called douchebag. But as a self-professed asshole, Tucker Max would no doubt affectionately embrace this week's Douchebag Decree title. Therein lies the problem: a compelte willingness to embody--and market--being a D-bag. And with a movie based on his best-selling (yep!) book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell coming out Sept. 25 and a second book Assholes Finish First coming down the pipeline (customers who bought this item also bought The Complete A**hole's Guide to Handling Chicks!), Tucker Max isn't going off the radar any time soon.
He has, in fact, built an entire franchise out of being a dick. On Facebook, he has over 100,000 fans and a myriad of groups devoted to him, which include "Tucker Max for President," "Tucker Max is 'The Man,'" "Tucker Max is my idol," "What Would Tucker Max Do?, plus over 200 additional redundant ways for douchebags to demonstrate their solidarity.
Besides the online social networking hype, his new movie has a blog, premiere tour (grassroots douchebag organizing!), and merch page to promote his dick schtick. His marketing team is even reaching out to us gals with this classy tee that reads "I slept with Tucker Max."
But there's more to his franchise than overpriced shotglasses. Besides film PR, Max has also appeared and spoken at universities. It's no lecture circuit, but paying Max to speak at colleges means more than making money off of sensational sexism--it's indicative of a more harmful philosophy of misogyny successfully being marketed (and absorbed) in a variety of mediums and venues. But Tucker Max isn't that worrisome--the popularity of what he preaches is.
Sady Doyle (currently guest-blogging at Bitch!) posted on Max on Broadsheet, sparking a discussion with Cara at Curvature over the demonstrations at Ohio State University and North Carolina State University where Max spoke. Sady writes that even though Max is obviously a prick, these demonstrations only feed into his culture of swagger and sexism:
If you're offended, you've noticed him. And for his fans, knowing that he's picketed by feminists -- feminists! Dreaded nemeses of parties and good time! -- isn't cause for concern, but a ringing endorsement.
I have to admit, bikini models playing beer pong wouldn't be a better Tucker Max promo gimmick than a pack of protesting feminists. (Case in point). However, Cara had a different take, saying that although Tucker Max doesn't deserve a protest, "...his lectures absolutely do." She continues,
Schools have a responsibility to protect students on their campuses, to provide security and create the least hostile environment possible. By inviting Tucker Max to their campuses for some kind of sorry profit is directly making their campuses unsafe, misogynistic, violence-promoting environments. And yes, yes, yes. That is worth a protest.
Like Cara, I think Tucker Max as a person is easily dismissed as a pathetic tool who gets to ride the asshole gravy train into the sunset. But his words and franchise (or as Sady calls it, the "Myth of Tucker Max") do have an impact in the way that its popularity normalizes non-consensual sex (and all around being-okay-with-treating-women-like-crap). That's why it doesn't matter if he makes up his stories about peeing on chicks or not--what's being sold is larger than the antics of a reckless twentysomething. As Sady comments back to Cara on Curvature,
We don't need to talk about his personal actions when we talk about how his work strengthens rape CULTURE. He writes about having sex while trashed, and he oozes contempt for women in general and his sexual partners in particular. Furthermore, he's cavalier about bodily harm to women in general and seems to think upsetting them, disrespecting them, or violating their boundaries is funny, even or especially within a sexual context. Men who have their judgment and perception altered by alcohol are more likely to misread or fail to respect a woman's sexual boundaries, and his attitudes contribute to a culture of male sexual entitlement and aggression towards women. Rape culture, in other words. Tucker Max could be made of sunshine and puppies in his private life, for all I know, but the messages he's sending are likely to give some dudes seriously bad and scary information about how to treat girls. I'm in agreement with the protesters on that point.
So even though it looks like Tucker Max the Movie is bad enough to make even a fratboy yawn, it's Tucker Max the Brand that I'm wary of.