The end of insularity

We’re less than a week away from the film’s national release.  I haven’t written much at all on this tour, in spite of my intentions to do so.  A big reason for this is because I just haven’t had much time to assemble a cohesive post. Even though it’s fun, we’re often working for 16-18 hours each day.  I’m normally too exhausted to even call my family.  But I also haven’t written much because of something Ben Corman and I were discussing the other night: our perspective on this tour is so heavily skewed that it’s hard to maintain our grasp on reality.  We all quickly realized that we’d be operating in some sort of alternate universe for a month and a half.  

For the first time in our lives, Corman and I are consistently being approached by people for our writing.  It’s really humbling/exciting, and neither of us have gotten used to it.  And as much as I try to just enjoy the moment, I’m extremely aware that when I go back to Colorado, this fantasy will come to a screeching halt.  No one will know who I am, and I will no longer be approached by friendly strangers.  This insular world will cease to exist for me.

When you show up at a venue and you see people who have been lined up since noon, reading Tucker’s book in their lawn chairs, it’s very easy to think that this movie will undoubtedly be a hit.  But that’s foolish, because these people are the early adopters.  They’ll convince you that you’re amazing, that you’re unstoppable, and that you’re already a success.  They delude you into thinking that you’ve hit the mark when you’re still working towards it. 

This mentality is just as contagious at the other end of the spectrum.  There are quite a few folks who hate Tucker with an almost unbelievable fervor.  It’s difficult to understand how people who have never met the guy could hate him so much, but they do.  If we only listened to them, we’d be in constant disbelief that Tucker hasn’t been assassinated yet. 

What both the lovers and the haters don’t realize, however, is that they are nothing but vocal minorities.  They sit around talking to each other, affirming their viewpoints until they believe they’re operating within the only true reality.  They mock the other group for being sycophants or trolls, while completely ignoring the fact that there is a HUGE group of people who remain silent, and are not nearly as passionate.  

This is why most people suck at marketing: they are unable to perceive a reality outside of their own.  Like I’ve said over and over on this site, people are self-interested.  Very few of us are able to be truly empathetic.  It’s extremely difficult to imagine anyone else’s reality other than your own.

I received an email from someone a few months ago.  He broke down the numbers on how many fans Tucker had, and correctly pointed out that even if all of them bought a ticket to see the movie, it would still only result in a fairly small profit at the box office.  So how could I say that I thought the movie would blow up?  

I’m not betting on the rabid fans and/or haters to make this movie into a hit.  I’m betting on the people who have never read his book or seen his site.  I’m betting on the people who have never heard of Tucker Max.  I think that almost anyone who sees the movie will talk about it with one or more of their friends, and eventually more and more people will see it.  I’m betting that this movie is remarkable enough to cross the chasm into the mainstream.  It may blow up right away, or it may be a slow burn.  Either way, I think it will do really well.  And if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be here.

10 comments on “The end of insularity

  1. nice post. i’m excited to see how this movie does pan out too, but remain somewhat skeptical due to the fact that many people seem to write it off as amateur-ish.

    If the movie is really good and word-of-mouth prevails, that would be awesome.

  2. Hi Charlie,

    You make an important and consistently overlooked observation. Our personal lives are only a minute microcosm of the what is happening around the world. To us it is everything, but to others we are insignificant.

    The people that read our blogs and comment are most often our peers. They write and read about the same topics. We are really preaching to the converted.

    More than 80 percent of all comments, reviews, etc. come from less than 5 percent of people. Those 5 percent are important, but large scale success requires adding some of the other 95%.

    The early adopters can be essential because they help spread the word, however the world is so fragmented for them to have much of an impact. Massive success can only come from reaching a broader audience.

    The only way to reach a bigger audience is to do really remarkable things. I can’t wait to see the movie.

  3. Regarding insularity, you should definitely check out some of writings of Steve Blank (http://steveblank.com/) and Venture Hacks (http://venturehacks.com/). They write about customer development/marketing for startups, which I imagine is very similar to marketing a new film.

    To avoid marketing a product that does not appeal to the right customers, they preach continual market research to realize an ideal product positioning.

  4. I particularly enjoy this quote: “This is why most people suck at marketing: they are unable to perceive a reality outside of their own.”

    It sometimes shocks me when people are confronted with another’s perspective that differs vastly from their own that their initial reaction is to try to change the others perspective or to simply judge it as wrong.

    It doesn’t really matter if it is right or wrong, it simply is. Ignoring this or trying to force your way doesn’t work.

  5. What is the primary reason for the absolute failure of the movie? Could it be that the product was substandard? You put yourself way out ahead of critics with your dubiously “un-biased” critique, now the imprint of your words are lasting. Do you regret hitching onto the Tucker bandwagon? Is it a career killer? Do you assist him in his pathetic attempt to erase some of the novel-length hyperbole and boasts about the upcoming success of the film? Do you find it at all ironic that the Rudius platform was built in large part by flame wars started on the net, and now that same net has taken the entire company down? Do you “marketing geniuses” now understand that surrounding yourselves with sycophant focus groups tells you nothing about the quality of the product, or its eventual success?

    And lastly, do you get to ride in the front seat on the jet,? and do you have to stow your crossbow underneath or can you have it sitting in your lap?

    • Next post I write will address several of these questions. As for the ones that won’t be answered in the post:

      – Do you regret hitching onto the Tucker bandwagon?
      No. I didn’t lose any money from the film flopping, and I got paid to see the country and make funny videos. Overall, a good experience for me, but with a sour ending.

      – Is it a career killer?
      For me? How would it be a career killer for me?

      – Do you assist him in his pathetic attempt to erase some of the novel-length hyperbole and boasts about the upcoming success of the film?
      No, I was unaware that he was doing that. If that’s true, it’s disappointing.

      – Do you find it at all ironic that the Rudius platform was built in large part by flame wars started on the net, and now that same net has taken the entire company down?
      I think what took the company down was the loss of money from the movie.

      – And lastly, do you get to ride in the front seat on the jet,? and do you have to stow your crossbow underneath or can you have it sitting in your lap?
      Alas, there is no jet! Although (true story) I did once get to ride in the front seat of one. And I don’t know what you mean by the crossbow question…

      • Thanks for the response. Actually, a bit of my snark was uncalled for, and the bit about the crossbow and jet was a jab at Tucker, who claimed to be in talks to buy one before the movie came out. And to open up a crossbow range with the millions garnered from the film.

        Since your name was heavily attached to the project, I was curious if you were actively trying to disassociate yourself now that it has failed.

        It appeared to many to be a fascinating study of epic flame out without so much of a meteoric rise. Most folks appreciate just a smidge of humility mixed in with the humor, Tucker and his crew obviously thought that he could succeed despite being utterly devoid of any self-deprecation. Was it a challenge to market someone who was as delusional about his place in the world? You seem to be a smart guy and I’m curious about your thoughts on what has become a massive black hole of failure from your buddies’ standpoint.

        Lastly, what becomes of all of the characters whose notoriety was linked to the movies’ success. Bunny, Ryan Holliday, etc. who thought that they should thumb their noses at society and wax on poetic without truly conquering it first. Do you plan learning from their self-destruction,? or do you believe that the path of success necessarily runs over others, not around?

  6. No problem. I wrote a couple hyperbolic posts on the movie myself, so I expect some snark and mockery. As long as people aren’t taking their anger towards Tucker out on me, I’m happy to respond.

    I’m not actively trying to disassociate myself with the movie at all. It’s still on my About Me page on this site, and I intend to write one final post on what went wrong. All of my old predictions will remain public — I’m not going to hide what I said, even if it makes me look stupid and naive. I’ve been involved with a TON of failures: personal projects and ventures, failed start-ups, etc. I’ve just never been involved with a failure this public or on such a large scale, so it’s been a big learning experience for me.

    I never met Bunny and know very little about her. Ryan’s well-being wasn’t contingent on this movie being a success. As far as I know, he’s doing just fine. But I’m not sure what everyone else plans on doing. I wouldn’t ever collectively describe the Rudius group as self-destructive. They (and I include myself in this) believed in what they were doing, tried to make it work, and it fizzled out. You could say the same thing about the majority of start-up companies that try and fail each year.

    And I don’t think I understand your last question about paths to success.

  7. wow, this old post got hot again.
    Good responses Charlie. I think “What Happened?” is getting a bit too fired up- haven’t you ever been wrong?

    It’s a shame T.Max has gone to ground and stopped updating the IHTSBIH website. I was just starting to enjoy his stuff being a late comer.

    He should know that he still has fans out there who are probably wondering WTF is going on and, at the very least, wonder if he’s doing ok.

    GL to all concerned… and I still haven’t seen the film yet cos I’m not in the states!

  8. Pingback: Looking back at the IHTSBIH Tour, Part 2 of 2 « Hoehn’s Musings

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