In my return to this blog (having finally confronted the real reason for leaving in the first place), I want to return to the subject that interests me the most – screenwriting; not a noble profession in any way, but a source of entertainment and enlightenment nonetheless. Being a screenwriter gives a person the ability to write the script for – if you’re Alex Chandon or Paul Shrimpton, Inbred; if you’re Steve Kloves, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; and if you’re Max Landis, Victor Frankenstein. The art of storytelling has become a commercial industry, and consequently, those that manage to establish themselves as a part of that profession earn themselves a position of admiration and respect from those that want to follow in their footsteps. Public image is now more important for screenwriters than ever before, with the paid job now being increasingly less hidden from the public.
Which brings us back to Landis: writer of Chronicle, American Ultra, Victor Frankenstein, Me him Her and Mr. Right, and the first screenwriter trying to establish themself online without also being a director, producer or actor. Recently, the marketing campaign behind films based on Landis’ screenplays have been exclusively on Landis’ Twitter feed (unprofessionally named @Uptomyknees), which is where the majority of information Landis chooses to share about screenwriting can be found.
So engaging in political debate about the public vote in another sovereign state in another continent without really understanding the important details is definitely a bad move.
About an hour after BBC News revealed that the majority of votes in the United Kingdom’s European Union membership referendum had been cast in favour of Leave, Landis had this to say:
The inaccuracies in this tweet are difficult to overstate. Firstly, Landis refers to “England” as a synechdoche for the United Kingdom, despite England being only one of the four constituent countries within that union. While the majority of England residents voted Leave, the majority of Scotland and Northern Ireland residents voted remain. England’s decision was only matched by Wales. So either Landis is focusing on England’s majority but ignoring that same majority in Wales, or is just making unresearched assumptions about the political structure of a sovereign state comprised of four constituent countries, in the same way as assuming Alaska speaks for all America. Thus, it stands to reason that, if a person doesn’t understand the political structure of a sovereign state, that person probably shouldn’t judge the decisions that sovereign state’s majority makes – especially when that political structure is a factor in that decision, which was the case here: Scotland’s majority voted to Remain in the hopes of a further referendum leading to Scotland as an independent state that remains a European Union member. Not understanding that complex issue disqualifies anyone from condemning a political choice made in a sovereign state they don’t fully understand. And Landis definitely doesn’t understand the United Kingdom, as this next tweet shows:
Since 2010, the British Prime Minister has been David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the referendum campaign, Cameron supported Britain Stronger in Europe, as did Damian Green, Conservative MP for Ashford. However, Vote Leave was supported by: Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath; Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe; Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative MP for Chingford and Woodford Green; Liam Fox, Conservative MP for North Somerset, Chris Grayling, Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell; Boris Johnson, Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip; Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire; Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham; Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet; John Wittingdale, Conservative MP for Maldon; Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex; Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed and Owen Patterson, Conservative MP for North Shropshire. Noticing a pattern yet? Cameron’s own party was so divided over the matter, that Cameron had already announced the intention to resign were Leave to be the majority. Cameron ultimately announcing his resignation on BBC News wasn’t really news to anyone in the United Kingdom. The expectation was, that had Remain been the majority, the Conservative MPs supporting Leave would’ve been replaced, so Cameron’s resignation with a Leave majority makes perfect sense – because he himself needs replacing. Cameron claimed that the United Kingdom needs strong leadership during this transitional period – the only reason the referendum happened is because there wasn’t a majority in the House of Commons. Which means, Cameron needed to gauge public opinion and act based on that. Therefore, Cameron’s resignation following a Leave majority was a known condition from the beginning. United Kingdom residents would know this, because we’ve been following it. Therefore, to claim that Cameron resigned because the majority disagreed with him is making assumptions about the outcome without being aware of the context (which United Kingdom residents were). The British people voted with the knowledge that one of the two outcomes would result in Cameron’s resignation – something which has escaped Landis’ attention. Plus, one of Cameron’s main policies as Prime Minister was to preserve the United Kingdom, and opposed independence or British republicanism. But failing to persuade the majority of voters to support leave also triggered another Scottish independence referendum and the possible reunion of Ireland as a single state. As a result of the Brexit, many commentators have already been calling Cameron one of the United Kingdom’s least successful Prime Minsters. Cameron’s resignation wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, but Landis isn’t aware of that.
Secondly: another thing this statement ignores is the resignation of Alex Salmond as Scotland’s First Minister. Salmond’s campaign was lead by the intention to hold a referendum on Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom – when the majority voted Remain, there was no point in Salmond continuing as Scottish First Minister. Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister is the equivalent of that. When Ed Milliband wasn’t voted Prime Minister in the latest General Election, Milliband resigned as Labour Leader. When Nick Clegg wasn’t voted Prime Minister, Clegg resigned as Liberal Democrat Leader. When Nigel Farage wasn’t voted Prime Minister, Farage resigned as Independence Leader. Political figures resigning a post because they lost a vote isn’t uncommon, at least not in the United Kingdom. Had Cameron not resigned, there’d have been a backlash against Cameron remaining despite the referendum showing that the majority were against him. Need I remind Landis of the only American President to resign, Richard M. Nixon?
Thirdly – and this is by far the worst – Landis refers to the Prime Minister as “‘president'”. Now, the reason for this isn’t entirely clear, but none of them are good. Were Landis implying that the United Kingdom is a smaller offshoot of the United States, that’s just a perpetration of a foreign policy between the two governments that not everyone supports. Another possibility is that “‘president'” is to say “That is, Britain’s equivalent of America’s president”. But there’s already a term for that: Prime Minister. It’s not just the United Kingdom that has one. To say Landis is a writer, Landis doesn’t seem to have the best words (not unlike you-know-who). In actuality, putting a word in quote marks (“/”) implies that, while the subject is officially called that, the writer doesn’t think that it is in practice. What Landis is basically saying is, “He’s not really the British President”. Yeah, no shit.
And then there’s this, which Landis felt compelled to retweet:
This is something else which is infuriating. What Landis has done is see one extract of one British news programme from a channel that he otherwise wouldn’t have seen, and has used that to justify all his previous misfounded assumptions. As though Landis thought, “Well, it’s on the news, so it validates what I think”. What Landis didn’t see was… anything else. Any other news programme from other broadcasters interviewing different people about different angles. Landis isn’t even a British citizen, but feels inclined to claim British media to reinforce his own cultural ignorance. Like how Fox News only represents some of America, not all of it. Storytellers are supposed to understand people, but how Landis has managed to be successful in this industry is something I can’t understand about him.