published in the UCR Highlander 11/28/05
If Hunter S. Thompson had found this site, he probably wouldn’t have killed himself. I say this about
TuckerMax.com because there is little else that so fully embodies the Good Doctor’s message of self-destruction and indulgence.
The design and utility of the site, along with the subtle insertion of truly skilled artistry is impressive but in the end, totally irrelevant. His enormous traffic (some 10 million visitors a year), popular messageboard and eclectic collection of like-minded writers all pales in comparison to the stellar content.
Hunter S. Thompson often wrote of man’s descent into primal behavior as an escape from both internal pain and the crushing pressure of a mundane external world. Tucker Max embraces this ethic to hilarious extremes and like his gonzo predecessors, contributes to the society from which he takes so much by writing of his experiences.
You can dismiss him as a joke, an internet fad or a pompous jackass, but sooner or later, you’ll come around. The stories are long and they are addictive to the point of causing dangerously low productivity. One story leads to two and three leads to hours in front of the computer.
Let’s face it: text has never looked very kindly on humor, but this collection of youthful indiscretions and drunken angst stands as a bright exception.
Try it and believe me, you’ll find that the story about the time you and your buddy “got totally trashed and were pretty sure the cashier at Wendy’s was on to you” or when you “got high and ate 6 bags of Cheetos” aren’t as funny when you write them down.
Stories about drinking, vandalism, and women have always screamed “you had to be there” but somehow Max’s are different. Both the overall quality of the experience and the prose that describes it combine to ward off the juvenile nature that tales of debauchery so often fall victim to.
Context and style are certainly integral to the success of his writing, but that’s not to say his exploits wouldn’t stand on their own. One would be hard-pressed to find anything more rife with comedic potential than a drunk fighting a hockey mascot or Duke law graduate vomiting on a dog. Nor is there a more qualified person to relay such a message than a man who, out of necessity, carries a tape-recorder to accurately recall the belligerence that flows from his toxic stupor.
Humor, like his patented Tucker Max Death Mix (Red Bull, Gatorade and Everclear), flows seamlessly through the bloodstream of his work. If you can’t remember the last time you actually “laughed out loud” it’s probably because little on the internet actually justifies it. Max, however, earns each and every laugh with bulimia inducing fat-jokes, shameless sexual conquests and general psychosis.
He doesn’t just do what you wish you could do, he does what you wouldn’t even begin dream of and says what you wouldn’t dare think.
It is from this that his message becomes so universally relatable, even if your life doesn’t resemble his at all. A love of alcohol isn’t required to respect a man who lives life on his own terms and is wildly successful at it. A steady girlfriend or a hatred of college-whores doesn’t prevent the inevitable entertainment that stems from dangerous overindulgence and megalomania.
Again, there is the tie to Thompson, who too achieved the cult-status that comes from a life of excess and intelligence.
“Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Weird heroes and mold-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ‘the rat race’ is not yet final,” Thompson once wrote.
Max’s site and success stands as inspiration to those who’ve grown wary of a system that rewards stagnation and embraces the unoriginal. He’s a self-absorbed asshole, but at least he’s himself. Unlike musicians or actors who stand apart rather than behind their work, his life and his craft are one, creating a single refreshingly genuine character.
Despite its propensity for ignoring quality and promoting garbage, Hollywood has begun to take notice. With a looming book release and a screenplay under his belt along with an infamous profile on MTV, Max doesn’t appear to be all talk.
His site rests comfortably among the top 15,000 most visited places on the web, and is the keynote attraction in the “Festering Ass.com” network of bloggers and artists. All of which generates a self-estimated “six-figure income” from ads and merchandise sales.
As an internet writer he belongs to an elite class who have shied away from imitation and in the process created an entirely new genre of media. His delivery is superb—he sits on the cusp of a revolution—but it would be nothing without content.
In this rare instance, he stands apart as both a literary and business genius. Success on a massive scale isn’t likely for Tucker Max it’s impending, so you might as well become a fan before its cliché.
Let me know what you guys think. Check his site out too, its amazing.