I’m relatively comfortable with people more fashionable than myself telling me what to wear. I have a long, proud history of wardrobe dependency, beginning with my mom and continuing through girlfriends, friends, peer pressure, drugs, and the media. I may mechanically dress myself in my adulthood, but I’m resigned to the subconscious fact that I will never, ever be free of some intervening garment influence. There’s always a female voice rattling off color combinations and caveats about the weather, and that’s fine. I don’t need to pick my own clothes to be happy.
I’m not comfortable, though, with people more fashionable than myself telling me what to read. And that’s the problem with Tucker Max. A University of Chicago and Duke Law School graduate, Max is a womanizing, alcoholic trust-fund baby with a serious identity issue and a New York Times bestseller. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, a collection of shit-show vignettes from his nights on the town and tales of social mayhem, is a somewhat therapeutic read. The problem is that I did not find Max’s tome at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com—I spied it to left of the counter in Urban Outfitters, situated among other suitably chic literature (sadly, Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself to Live was the next book over). Drawn by its provocatively banal title, I sped through I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell’s first chapter, a suspiciously coherent account of a vomitous night that included failed Breathalyzer tests and pantless sushi consumption.
Max’s methodology is obvious: he co-opt’s the reader’s presumed obsession with drunken revelry and nudity, automatically producing two types of critics. The first group praises his machismo and thanks him for living the life they wish they themselves led, and the second berates him for debasing the human race. Both, coincidentally, are quoted on the back of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Like a pop song built for radio play, Max’s faux-sensationalist essays are shaped for public consumption. The same can be said for Max's website, a collection of self-obsessed stories and rhetoric much like that which appears in his book (you can read the pantless sushi story here).
Max is a glorified pornographer. By appealing to licentiousness and nefarious impulses, he is exploiting all of us for his own fame and wealth (the wealth, that is, that doesn't come straight from his parents). He is, as he states in his website bio, "an asshole." An entertaining and somewhat empowered asshole, to be sure, but an asshole nonetheless.
I didn’t realize all this until it was too late, after I’d picked Max’s book off the shelf, read the first chapter, and thought about it for more than 15 seconds. And what’s worse, I’m writing about it afterwards and linking to his website. As far as Urban Outfitters and Max are concerned, it’s mission accomplished. The fashion intelligentsia, for all its vapid posturing, has proven more formidable than me, which leaves me thinking that perhaps I should let them decide what I read.
I hope they serve beer in hell.
Stay Stylish, Tucker