Crisis of success
November 27, 2012 8:07 AM   Subscribe

What are some examples (historical, fictional, anecdotal, whatever) of groups, companies, partnerships, bands, teams where the founders achieve a bit of success and are then forced to reevaluate their relationships and objectives?

Something like the Joseph Cotten v Orson Welles relationship in Citizen Kane, Jobs v Woz, facebook, Galaxie 500. I'm interested in that moment when a group of people are sitting on something huge, how they respond to success and one another, and how they endure, fail, or breakup.
posted by lowest east side to Human Relations (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The movies That Thing You Do! and The Commitments come to mind.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Beetles?
posted by edgeways at 8:21 AM on November 27, 2012

Breaking Bad
posted by mkultra at 8:25 AM on November 27, 2012

Cain vs. Abel
Stalin vs. Trotsky (never friendly at all but they acheived enormous success)
Adidas vs. Puma
McDonald's (McDonald brothers vs Ray Kroc)
Friendly's (the Blake brothers)
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:33 AM on November 27, 2012

The Hunger Games.
posted by Melismata at 8:40 AM on November 27, 2012

The band Deep Purple has had an interesting saga; they've gone through a number of different lineups (the first one pretty early on in their long history) but have largely avoided the sad "One original member using the band name on the county fair circuit" trajectory, and just keep doing their own thing.

Compare & contrast Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, both of whom were hugely successful when they lost crucial members to alcohol-related deaths at about the same time. Led Zeppelin decided to call it quits, while AC/DC is still at it.
posted by usonian at 8:48 AM on November 27, 2012

I will second EmpressCallipygos and add that the inclusion of The Commitments both pleases and surprises me ;)

Also, Bill Gates/Paul Allen, though I don't know if the real dirt on that one has ever become publicly visible, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, The Edge and Bono (perhaps the use of stage names helped?).
posted by billsaysthis at 9:57 AM on November 27, 2012

the inclusion of The Commitments both pleases and surprises me ;)

I think the film more so than the book played up the "they were getting really good but the egos blew everything up" angle. Although the book is fun too. (Interesting that I've picked two "the egos blew everything up right when they were at the top of their game" examples.)

For Bono and The Edge - you're talking about the whole mythic "they were about to break up but then they recorded 'One' and it was cathartic" thing, yes?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:04 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is pretty much exactly what happens to Ebenezer Scrooge, CEO of the firm Scrooge & Marley in Dickens's A Christmas Carol.

See also Thomas Gradgrind in Hard Times.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:25 AM on November 27, 2012

The Social Network
posted by kettleoffish at 11:00 AM on November 27, 2012

I think the documentary about fits the bill: E-Dreams
posted by Brody's chum at 11:09 AM on November 27, 2012

Thanks, these are great suggestions. My buddy who started this train of thought mentioned Breaking Bad too. E-Dreams sounds similar to which is another example of what I'm looking for. Adidas/Puma I had no idea.
posted by lowest east side at 11:35 AM on November 27, 2012

R.E.M., after Bill Berry's departure post aneurysm.
posted by yoga at 12:10 PM on November 27, 2012

They Might Be Giants and their relationship with Elektra Records? The documentary Gigantic discusses it some, if you're up for some good inside baseball rock and roll tedium. (The rest is a fun though not objectively good film.)
posted by clavicle at 12:24 PM on November 27, 2012

Empress, I lurve Roddy Doyle. Love the movie too as it makes aspects of the conflicts more obvious/direct. For Edge/Bono I was thinking more generally how they've been able to stay together making well-received new music together for so long, especially with Bono so much in the spotlight for non-band things and Edge (IMO) not getting nearly enough credit. Plus Bono putting up with Edge insisting on wearing the wool cap every single, solitary time they're in public.
posted by billsaysthis at 5:00 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pink Floyd. Their entire story and evolution is fascinating. Wish You Were Here is one of my favorite albums ever, it's beautiful, and would have never been as great as it was- or existed at all- if not for all the drama that preceded it within the band.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 6:36 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a book, Billion Dollar Baby by Bob Greene, that's one of the best books I've ever read about rock and roll; the author joins the Alice Cooper Band at the height of their fame in the seventies for what will turn out to be their last tour together. (Greene is best known for being a boomer nostalgist and also for the scandal that ended his newspaper columnist career, but this book takes place, and was written, well before either of those.) The group started out as five friends from Arizona, including Vince Furnier, aka Alice Cooper, and they'd originally assumed that they would all be equals, but Furnier/Cooper is by far the most personable and gregarious member of the group--as well as, of course, being the lead singer--and there's a growing, if mostly unspoken, distance between him and his old high school buddies. (It's also pretty obvious, if also unspoken, that Cooper is a raging alcoholic at this point.) There are various digressions, about groupies, the spoiling of rock stars, and one show in Toledo where the audience suddenly, inexplicably, and violently turns on them, but the main thrust of the story is about five mostly regular guys who realize that one of them really doesn't need the other four any more. Out of print, but well worth getting through interlibrary loan if your local library offers that service.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:33 PM on November 27, 2012

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