Who wants to slap, or get slapped by Max Landis?
Best known for his work on Chronicle (2012) and his take on the Death and Return of Superman, writer Max Landis is one of the many talented faces in the world using YouTube to provoke thought. In his latest video, The Slap, Landis delves in to an aspect of the human experience generally shied away from… except by Game of Thrones.
While The Slap may appear to be little more than a spoof of the recent film/commercial First Kiss, which featured strangers engaging in the seemingly intimate act of a first kiss, Landis explains on his website Max Landis Writes, that it is far more than that.
“The Kiss video is beautiful, but it doesn’t ask a big question. The “question” of the video seems to be “Do you want to kiss a sexy person who conforms to your preestablished sexual interests?” The answer, I would assume for most everyone, is “yes, I would like that very much, that sounds like it would get me all horned up.” “
So Landis took it upon himself to try to ask and answer those bigger questions. In his view, most people with a strong sense of self would be willing to make out with a total stranger, so what can be learned by changing the variables. Landis decided that in lieu of experimenting with human sexuality he would take on violence. But what makes violence violent?
“It’s really just a label, isn’t it, if you let your mind go to a dark place. I decided to define violence as “non-consensual physical interference;” wordy I know, but it lent itself to a wider idea.”
That wider idea was removing the “non- consensual” part of the equation. What would happen if people willingly engaged in the violent act of slapping?
“Granted, it’s just a stupid internet video, but what isn’t, these days? I had a theory: if we let people slap each other, most of them, after the initial hit, will start testing each other and themselves, playing with their own boundaries. Maybe not every time, but some times. Most times. The theory was: people will want to do it more than once. The theory was: in this bizarre scenario, a slap won’t be a slap. It’ll become a different type of physical exchange.”
After watching the video it is evident that Landis was, indeed, correct in his theories. Once the slap ice was broken, the participants appear to turn the situation into a game. It becomes a sort of hot hands for the face. Allowing another person to inflict pain on you, especially a total stranger, does feel rather more intimate than a kiss. By its nature a kiss is gentle, where as a slap could be anything from a slight tapping of the fingers to a floor kissing wallop. Standing open faced for an incoming slap is a level of trust most people reserve for those closest to them and Landis’ approach to the subject is at once revealing and surprisingly enjoyable.
While First Kiss has its merits, The Slap touches on some of our darker fears, that we will be victims of violence and that each of us has it in them to perpetrate violence.
Visit Max Landis Writes for more of Landis’ musings.