Sunday, January 18, 2009
Even Kevin Smith Gets The Blues
I am a moderate-to-big fan of Kevin Smith. I think his comics are generally pretty good, although the wait for Daredevil/Bullseye: Target and Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil Men Do was unforgivable, and upon reading the comics not really worth it. However, his run on Green Arrow was pretty damn good and about as good as that title ever got (at least since Mike Grell was on it, allegedly). I'm more of a fan of his movies. Clerks was the movie that made me realize I want to pursue creative endeavors for a living (still waiting on that). Dogma was great when I first watched it, but grows more irritating every subsequent viewing, mainly due to Linda Fiorentino's horrible performance and the frequent preachiness of the dialogue. I'm not really making a good account for him, but suffice to say I thought Clerks II was really well done. It got a lot of flak online, although that's no big surprise. Smith has always been a huge lightening rod for people. He's basically the everyman, slob, "my movie is your life" industry figure. You can make honest arguments about his subject matter choices, his style (or lack thereof) in directing, and his frequent habit of putting his wife in his movies, which is new and very unfortunate. She seems like a great, smart gal but an actress she is not. But people seem to hate him now, which seems weird to me. He doesn't take over beloved franchises like Transformers or X-Men, or even fondly remembered franchises like the Spirit or Green Hornet. He does his own stuff. No one forces you to watch any of it. It's there if you like it, and if you don't then it's cool, too. I think a lot of the shit that gets thrown his way is a result of envy. Normally I'm very skeptical of this. I believe you can disagree with people like Barack Obama or Jesse Jackson without being racist. I think you can disagree with Hillary Rodham Clinton or PETA without hating women or animals, so the accusation of being a "hater" doesn't really fly with me. However, I think the glove fits in this situation. I think a lot of people, even if they don't want to make the exact type of movies he does, i.e. "I had the idea of doing a blue collar comedy on retail, dammit!" or "I was going to do a romantic comedy in the new zeitgeist of amateur porn, fuck!" People (me admittedly being one of them) would kill to make very good money in order to tell whatever stories they have inside of them, to be able to work when they want, buy what they want, lie in bed playing online poker and eating take-out without showering for days if they want. Instead, most of us are forced to attend expensive schools in order to learn things we don't care about so we can work jobs we don't want to with people we don't like so we can pay debt that we will never be free of. So the idea of Joe Nobody from New Jersey going from college dropout and register jockey to LA director living in Ben Affleck's old crib probably turns people green with sick, sad jealousy.
Which is a shame because Kevin seems to be free of pretention and self-absorption. He cheerfully admits that he's not that great of a director, and that he's not even as famous as Marty Allen, a comedian I had literally never heard of until the latest SModcast. It's SModcast that I think he really shines. He's a naturally gifted conversationalist and storyteller, and here he plays entirely of his strengths (witty words) with none of his weaknesses (anything dynamic or visual). There was a guy that commented on here a couple of times that hoped for some SModcast-like stories, but now I can't find his comments. I will say that if you enjoy this, or you think you and I might have similar pop-culture tastes, I highly encourage you to download SModcast. It's free, there's 70+ hours of material for you to listen to while cleaning the house or typing at work, and you can listen to debates on whether people would drink semen if it meant losing weight, how a giant Scott Mosier with black bat wings and the knowledge of old-timey boxers would take on a giant warrior kung-fu Jesus with heat vision on the orders of the UN, and hanging around baseball fields at night hoping to have high school seniors stick pickles up your ass.
One of the things talked about on SModcast is the fact that Smith owns two comic book stores called Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash, named after two of his most famous characters. The one on the east coast in Jersey is run by his longtime friend Walt Flanagan, and the one on the west coast was run by another friend, Bryan Johnson, until Johnson had enough of it and quit. You get some interesting insight in how even comic shops relying on celebrity get the same exact frustrations as ones run by the everyman. Even Walt Flanagan, who has drawn comics and appeared onscreen at the cineplex has to deal with bullshit customers. I'm going to link to a couple with known comic shop talk for you to listen and enjoy-