Screenwriter Max Landis Doesn't Understand Women and Neither Do You, Hollywood
Another day, another insight into the mind of Hollywood makers and shakers. Today's latest diatribe comes from Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis. The 28-year-old son of director John Landis was interviewed on the website Shelby Sells, and has caused the Internet to go nuts with rage thanks to his frank and honest discussion of his own interactions and opinions on the women he meets in Los Angeles. And while I melodramatically throw myself onto the chaise lounge I purchased just for these exact, exasperated purposes, it seems that enough is just about enough.
"But it's just one man's perspective and experience!" you cry. "Why is everyone taking it so seriously?" Probably because it isn't all that unique or different from a lot of other stuff out there. And also because it speaks to a much bigger problem, which we're sick and fucking tired of seeing and talking and writing about.
So, Hollywood: what we don't need any more of is perspective. How about, instead, we try a little bit of action, eh?
Since I'm sure this is going to pop up on his Google Alert, let me just go ahead and address this whole thing to Max Landis himself: Hi Max! Man, that recent interview of yours — as you seem all-too-self-aware about — has caused you some grief. That's never fun. As a person who writes on the Internet and is also sometimes all-too-honest for her own good, I can sympathize: scrutiny feels icky and often far more vitriolic than it may be otherwise in person. But let's get on that real talk tip for a second because what you're saying about women and sex and self-awareness in Hollywood says far more about you than it does about them.
The subsequent Twitter and Facebook ballyhoo that followed — clear markers, using your own methodology, that you're also feeling quite insecure in the moment about your choice of words — prove that you're a victim of your own perception as well. If all you can take away from this scenario is (your words, not mine) "GUYS LIKE MAX LANDIS AND CHRIS BROWN MUST BE STOPPED," then you're missing the whole goddamn point.
And that's entirely the problem: we all love to put shit in boxes and categorize it. To put female insecurity on the same pedestal as the oft-used "crazy" line just because it's outside of your own frame of reference. Instead, what you should have stopped on was the "insecurity" part and then looked inward, but not introspectively. Think of it like an unfamiliar editor coming to a script: that outsider, unbiased perspective can sometimes be really helpful. Especially when combined with your brand of honesty.
You're not alone in your thinking — far from it. But that's the problem! It's an insidious, subconscious frame of reference. Like where you quip in the interview, "if you lined up the women i’ve dated it would look like the batman villains, they all look different. they’re all totally different people." The juxtaposition of hopping from "they all look different" to then the conclusion that because of that "they're all totally different people" shows that women's looks are still a huge way in which we categorize and "value" women.
Which, yes, is hard: we live in a very visual society and Hollywood is probably the pinnacle of that. Aesthetics are interesting, fun, sometimes even beautiful and exciting. But they key is remembering that looks are just an entry point. Keeping things surface-level like that is what keeps women down in society and, on a personal level, keeps you from connecting in a relationship. And if you're not connected, you don't understand the other person. Not really. And guess what happens when you don't understand someone? you'll only ever see the surface, not the person underneath.
The problem is, though, that most people are too scared to actually open up enough to see the other side. You said so yourself! "I mean I like the girl but I wish there was a way to like the girl without needing to be so connected to them. My insecurities stop me from being in an open relationship because to me it diffuses the point of a relationship." What point? The whole point of having a relationship of any kind with someone is to be open and honest and connected. If you aren't those three things you're not in a relationship, you're in a contractual agreement.
The idea that "i guess you’ve just gotta be super comfortable" is true. For everyone. But don't you think that like, maybe, just maybe, it's a two-way street? A street that people must go alone, but is shaped by those other, metaphorical cars on the road, and has a different pace for everyone (speed limits are merely suggestions, right?), to be super-cliched for a minute? It's not a compassionate way to look at the world and other people, otherwise. And lord knows we're all looking for a little compassion now and again.
Saying that you are "so fucked up from like mood disorders and fucking crazy behavior and having adhd in a bad way and also being bipolar" and that the woman in your life must be the "the most in grounded, smart, in-charge, nurturing person in the world" is putting the impetuous on the other person, and assumes that the other person will have no problems or baggage or anything — even though categorizing women's feelings and actions as "crazy" or "insecurity" is only playing into the idea that that's all women are and that they cannot be understood beyond that, is actually just a way to avoid understanding them. But, oh hey guess what? I bet everyone you meet and actually connect with has some sort of something that makes them categorize themselves as "so fucked up." Why else do they make so many movies about fucked up shit in Hollywood if it was abnormal, eh?
So why the double standard? Oh right, because it's easier and because everyone does it and it's how people have grown up and acted for hundreds of years. But does that make it right? (A cricket chirping cue would be killer right now.)
People are on you because of your cheating comments, but you're actually pretty spot on, methodically speaking. The idea that "cheating comes from the fact of not thinking" isn't just in regards to cheating — it's at the center of every interaction and reaction we humans have to everything around us. Over-thinking is never the answer (trust that your homegirl knows that one because LIFE) — but allowing yourself to think something other than your de-facto, go-to thoughts, in order to really see what the other person might be dealing with, helps push forward the idea that maybe — just maybe! — the radical notion that women are humans first, vaginas second should be less radical and more just, oh I don't know, the way it is. Because that's the way it fucking is, you guys.
This isn't an attack on men. It's an attack on a way of thinking a lot of men (and even some women) hold, explicitly or otherwise. It's not specific men that need to be stopped, it's this idea that women are not on the most basic level, considered the same. An idea that is perpetuated in TV and movies on the regular — an industry in which you just so happen to find yourself — in tiny, seemingly insignificant ways because "whatever that's how everybody does it!" Because P in the V. Because "crazy" versus "normal." Because thoughts versus emotions. Because whatever bullshit because.
But every little bit counts and those little things build and build and build. All these categorically vague-yet-harmful ideas aren't dividing lines for what makes someone a man or a woman, but rather just one type of person versus another — regardless of what sort of sexual shifter they have between their legs.
You said it best yourself when you stated, "i think ultimately there has to be some sort of middle ground where you self-actualize." But it's not easy, and that's the biggest hump anyone in the world has to traverse to become who they are — so maybe if we were all a little bit more empathetic to the differences, they would ultimately give way to that little bit of sameness we all look for in relationships. And if we do that — good golly be! — perhaps the way we portray women (and yeah, even probably/maybe some men!) on screen will get better.
So do it for the fun story. You like that, right?