Is it possible that the poster boy for being bad has gone …”good man” on us?
On February 9, 2010 I approached Tucker Max on email about entering into an online debate on manhood and morals. Kind of a good vs. evil slap down for charity–the Good Men Project Foundation. His response was…well stunning to me.
You clearly have no idea how media works and no concept of how to approach someone who has something you don’t have and want to use.
Look at the facts here:
-You have no audience to speak of
-You’ve sold no books to speak of
-You are a no one in terms of public appeal or audience
Now look at me:
-I have a huge audience, millions strong
-I have sold 1.2 million books, and my book has spent five years on the best seller list
-I have a movie made about my life
-I am a hero to every male under 25 in this country, and many over that age
After a bit more back and forth, in which admittedly I got a bit upset, he concluded:
AHHHAHAHAHAH–oh man. You built a billion dollar business…and yet, you don’t know anything about pitching, media, branding, celebrities or cross-promotion, and are so ruffled by simple facts that you are reduced to pitiful name-calling in the span of just one email? Something is very very off here. Have fun trying to build a real media company acting like a 12 year old.
Needless to say, my attempt to make the bad boy go straight didn’t go well or end up in a debate about the core issues we talk about all the time here at GMP. He was far more interested in his own fame and fortune as a drunk womanizer willing to tell all than worrying about boys without fathers.
One of the things I have noticed over the last three years is that what once seemed like somewhat of a controversial statement–that men of all colors, ethnicity, sexual preference and economic standing are grappling with fundamental issues of identity and goodness–has gone mainstream. Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen helped make obvious the problem, but they didn’t necessarily help anyone understand the solution.
We still have Bud Light commercials and Two and a Half Men is still a top show, albeit with one real-life womanizer switched out for another in the lead role. But there’s this giant groundswell among men about the very issues of fatherhood and meaning and manhood which inspired GMP’s founding. One of the most remarkable experiences I have had lately is the number of my friends–guys who made fun of the GMP at its founding for being too sensitive, too girly, too much about feelings–who are spending their lunch hours and evenings reading our blog. And actually talking about it in public. “Wow, that is some really good shit!” they say in mixed company over dinner.
I may have thought I was a lone wolf howling into the wind at one point. But that is no longer the case. And that’s no more obvious than Tucker Max, the quintessential walking Bud Light commercial who has apparently undergone a remarkable transformation.
Max walked to City Bakery, where he selected a lunch of pineapple, cantaloupe, and four shreds of lettuce. “I’m Paleo,” he said, referring to his new diet—no carbs or sugar; lots of lentils and organic whey—which is part of a broader retirement plan.
He has been seeing a psychoanalyst four times a week, and has made a list of activities to try: Zen archery, improv, pottery, gardening, barista school, rock climbing, salsa dancing, advanced firearm training. “The thought of going to a strip club makes me want to vomit. Blergh. Ack,” he said.
Apparently the days of writing “dick lit”—a genre which Wiedeman characterizes as “memoir about getting drunk, having sex with lots of women, and getting too drunk to have any sex at all”–is officially over. He’s outgrown the gag.
Max’s audience—in his words, “dudes who can’t spell ‘dude’ right”—expects a Tucker who no longer exists. His partying has dipped from five nights a week to once or twice a month. Sleeping around became boring. He doesn’t have any new stories. “I’m not even having a book party,” he said. “The worst-case scenario is if a bunch of my fans show up and expect, like, twenty-eight-year-old Tucker, and that’s not who I am anymore.”
“I just started going to this Buddhist center,” he said, mentioning another activity on the list. “This woman there said, ‘When you reach the top of the mountain, don’t curse the path that brought you there.’ ” Asked to come up with a book title for this new phase, he said, “‘Still Awesome, Just Different.’ ” Max grabbed two fifty-ounce waters from a deli, passing the beer display without a pause, and went into a Bikram yoga studio across from the Flatiron Building. It was his first time, and the instructor yelled at Max to stretch deeper into his rabbit pose. “That shit was hot,” he said, ninety minutes later, walking into the February afternoon in just a T-shirt. He was skeptical of yoga, but felt that trying it was another step toward adulthood.
So is it possible that the poster boy for being bad has gone…”good man” on us? Stranger things have happened.
Welcome to the club, my friend.
Now, how about that discussion of manhood we never got off the ground a couple years back?