Whenever sexual assault allegations are levied against wealthy, powerful men, the same sentiment echoes from the Internet peanut gallery: "But should this really ruin their careeeeeers?"
In the case of Hollywood screenwriter Max Landis, the answer is a 100%, unequivocal, enthusiastic yes.
This morning, The Daily Beast released a bombshell report, compiling allegations from eight separate women—many of them ex-girlfriends and former friends of Max—chronicling a pattern of sadistic behavior towards women ranging from psycho-sexual manipulation to outright rape. Almost all of the accounts are corroborated or backed up by documents and evidence. When we say, "Max Landis is an alleged rapist," please understand that the "alleged" is included solely for our legal team.
Many people might be wondering why we're talking about someone they've never heard of before. After all, those outside of the entertainment industry are probably not very familiar with Max Landis. Within Hollywood, however, Max Landis is a superstar screenwriter, known for his ability to sell loads of scripts on spec (essentially, original ideas he came up with) and his big, loud personality. He's written a number of middling, forgettable screenplays, including Bright and American Ultra. He's also the son of legendary producer/director John Landis, which explains how he came up in the industry in the first place (*cough* nepotism *cough*).
He's also known for being predatory towards women: an open secret that's been circulated by people in his periphery for years. But his scripts sell and get turned into mediocre movies so, for whatever reason, prior allegations haven't stuck.
hey remember when max landis was accused of sexual assault by multiple women and just disappeared from twitter in h… https://t.co/8n91yYYx5P— rachel kiley (@rachel kiley)1548869684.0
This time, though, Landis's career won't be recovering. Why? Because nobody should ever want to actively support a known "alleged" rapist, someone who held a woman down against her will as she continually said "no" and had sex with her anyways. Of course, that's not to say we shouldn't believe victims and cancel powerful predators in other situations with less evidence––after all, victim testimony is oftentimes the only evidence that exists. It's simply to say that, in this case, we all know what happened.
There are no puzzle pieces here; this one's clear as day. Max Landis isn't "allegedly" a grey area rapist—he's textbook. But almost scarier than that, Max's pattern of abuse, manipulation, and degradation seems akin to a serial killer's MO. "All of them go blonde, all of them lose weight, and all of them are under his spell," a former friend named Gage told The Daily Beast about Landis' girlfriends.
Moreover, Max Landis' behavior has carried onto his sets. Various women he's worked with on movies spoke to The Daily Beast about him harassing them and assaulting them in the workplace. "At one point we were on set with people around and he pushed me down and got on top of me on a bed. I raised my voice and told him to get off of me, and eventually managed to push him off," said Tasha Goldthwait, a set costumer on Landis' Me Him Her. This dude is "allegedly" such a piece of absolute trash that he can't even keep it in his pants at work.
Even in a culture numbed by the constant stream of #MeToo stories, the allegations against Landis are jarring. We're talking about a guy accused of choking multiple women on multiple occasions, threatening to kill them, and then crying about it to seek their sympathy. We're talking about a guy who keeps a list of women he's slept with, ranks the experiences, and then shows it to current partners to make them cry. We're talking about a guy who "allegedly" told a black out drunk girl that he was her boyfriend in order to rape her. That's who Max Landis is, and nobody should ever, ever, ever support the financial well-being of a person like that.
Boycott Max Landis. Boycott all of his work and every studio or company that ever chooses to work with him again. Boycott every project he ever touches. End his career forever.
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Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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