|This guy? Noooooo....|
That's a harsh open isn't it? The situation is more complicated than that. It's complicated because I'm making it complicated. I want to like Max Landis. I really, really do. His stuff on YouTube (which I've linked to here) is awesome. It's something I like to watch it over and over again. I recently watched Chronicle, which he wrote, and that was pretty awesome as well. So having created all this great work, as a fan, I want to like Max Landis. Because I'm THAT kind of fan, I'm that kind of horrible fan. I'm just sort of hopeless in that respect. I want to like the creators of the things I like. I want to like their work and like them as people. We don't have to be best friends, I never even need to meet them or have contact with them. I just want to see/hear them in interviews, read news about them and know that they're good people. That I'm supporting, in my incredibly small way, good people making good things.
Recently I listened to the Nerdist Podcast interview of Max Landis and I have to say I was left confused. Because in many ways we are similar people. We have similar mental issues, he is clearly manic in this episode and I am manic-depressive (or bi-polar or cyclothymic or whatever the hell they call it now days). It does sound like he has had his depressive moments as well though. He's clearly creatively gifted, which often comes from living in the throes of mania and he creates things complete (he sees a thing complete in his head and then just puts it to paper), which I do when I write fiction. Also his sense of humor is for himself, as is mine, I make jokes that I think are funny because I want to amuse me and if someone else finds it funny it's just collateral damage. We are a lot alike.
But then he talks about is life and I can't help but feel incredibly bad for him. He talks about a birthday party he held and it sounds like literally the worst place to be in the world for the entire time the party took place. Unless, of course, you're Max Landis. Then I'm sure you had a good time. Or you were either too drunk or too focused on yourself to actually care about anything going on around you. I guess in this case those two things are virtually the same. At first I thought he said 23rd birthday and my thought was "Ah, 23, I did a ton of stupid shit when I was 23. This is no different than the total, irredeemable, broken asshole I was at 23.". Then I rewound it and he in fact said 27th birthday. I reacted like one would watching a video of a skater bailing, or Peter Griffin getting kicked in the shins (HIP, TOPICAL REFERENCE!). My head recoiled causing my neck fat to fold creating many more chins than I usually sport, my eyes squinted and I inhaled through my teeth followed by a long "Oooooo"-ing exhale. I'm really not that much older than him and I instantly went from not really liking him but with a "Ah, that's adorable, when you get older kiddo..." to feeling incredibly sorry for him. Granted I am not Max Landis. He probably would disagree. He doesn't have to live my life, I don't have to live his and we don't have to find the same things fun. I know people and have had friends who would listen to that story and smile and bro-five with a hearty and long "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" But honestly if that was indicative of his lifestyle, if it were me living that lifestyle, I would hate myself. I know because I did live that lifestyle and I did hate myself and I had to drink to hate myself less.
When I started what I call my "punk phase" I was 19. I was an outcast in school where I was quiet and for the most part followed all the rules. Then I went through a tumultuous relationship and when I was done I decided to go so far the other direction no one would recognize me. So I went punk and I started sneaking out of the house and causing trouble. Thankfully I never got arrested for my stupidity. But at 19 I told myself that I could behave this way until I was 25, at that point it would become unattractive and sad. True to my word I settled down around 25 and then got a professional job and tried to live the "bro-life" for a couple of years and hated every second of it.
I don't know how Max Landis spends the majority of his life, I only know what he shared on this podcast. There are hints of a quiet guy who sits at his laptop in a coffee shop and writes. Which is a habit I find pretty douchey in and of itself. But if most of his life is just a creative guy who's a little tortured and awkward then that I can understand. I can relate to that. A guy who likes to cut loose on occasion, a guy who when nervous puts on a mask, a guy whose mask is a little beyond his control. I can understand all that. I get that because I do that. But I have a few years on Max Landis and in the time between my bro-life phase and now I've focused on figuring out my mask, on controlling my mask. On figuring out where the edges of my mask are, where IT begins and I end. I've disposed of some old mask behaviors that don't really work and I've integrated more of myself into my mask.
At the end of all this I really hope Max does the same. Based on this one interview he sounds like someone lacking peace and perspective in his life. Like maybe he only experiences peace when he creates, which is again something I relate to. At first the idea of finding the same peace in the rest of my life that I had when I created was terrifying. The thought that I would no longer find my only solace in creating scared the crap out of me. What if that was the only thing defining my work? What if I wouldn't be able to create after I did that? What if I lost my edge in some way? Would it totally neuter me? Maybe he struggles with that too. Maybe that's why he spends so much time creating. I don't know. I can't ever know. But do you see what I mean when I say I don't know how to feel about Max Landis? I want to like him because he creates things that I like. I don't want to like him because he has many of the same qualities that I either currently dislike or have disliked about myself. I don't like him because he just makes himself sound unlikable (self centered, loud, abrasive, annoying) but I do like him because despite everything he's talented, passionate and he makes quality work. Three things that I admire and look for in people. When push comes to shove you have to learn to separate the artist from the art and not matter how I feel about Max Landis as long as he creates things I like then I don't have to like him as a person. But I really want too. Mostly because it makes it easier for me.