Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kevin Smith: I'd Rather Be F-ing My Wife

If Kevin Smith has not been the profoundest of filmmakers, he certainly has been the most accessible. Since his 1994 Clerks debut, Smith has made himself readily available to the public via social media (Myspace, Facebook, and his own View Askewniverse message board).

Recently, Smith sat down with fellow filmmaker and Huffington Post author Lee Stranahan for an extended YouTube interview in which Smith discussed his freshman attempt at directing a screenplay he didn't write himself (A Couple of Cops, starring Bruce Willis) and a recent epiphany about the dangers of making himself too get-at-able.

Smith wasn't talking about stalking, a physical danger sadly present in any public figure's life. He was referring to the psychological danger inherent in interacting with the very community he built as a marketing tool, and also of the very real and present danger of reading reviews of his own work.

The epiphany (this may be too elegant a word; in Smith's case it seems more of a whack-a-mole V8 moment) came after the Toronto International Film Festival, where Smith's latest film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, was in the line-up. The film grossed only two million on the Halloween Friday it was released in the States and Smith spent the month of November Web-AWOL from a fear of being "shredded" and "killed" for creating the "lowest-grossing Seth Rogen movie."

Smith read all of the reviews after the film festival, but nothing further. He liked his movie too much to read anything negative about it. Instead, he wrote and played poker and came to the conclusion that, at age 38, he no longer felt that his opinion had to be the final--and the correct--one.

Ultimately, he says, he noticed the unsettling tendency of people to write "the worst shit about you...about your wife, about your f-ing kid...try to peer deep into your soul and write heinous f-ing things...take you into Bizarre World and write the opposite of everything that's true and maintain to the world in general that it's true...and it's only really recently that I realized that they can do that and they can't affect your f-ing ability to earn, to love, to be loved, to have a good day..."

He latently realized what we all know: the world now fits on a pinhead. If there is someone out there to say it, someone will, and someone outside the MKAD in Moscow will read it and believe it. And then add his own shit thing in return: затейник!

From here on in, the whole world will believe that Kevin Smith is a prick.

Smith said he questioned why he'd be wasting his time on line, reading critical commentary not just on his work but on his wife's appearance. when he could be "sticking it in her ass on a regular basis." Or cruising eBay for some Wayne Gretzky items like the rest of us.

Wake up call!

Look at your life, you won! he says his colleagues exclaimed. The game of life, he means, the Hollywood game, winning suggesting that life is something competitive and something that can be beaten. It's an interesting, Hollywood/Wall Street-centric philosophy, and despite Smith's explicit interpretation, is really reason for hope, perhaps more so than any governmental promises of affordable health care. It was a slapshot for the common man in his penalty box and should be required listening for all students in the eighth grade, which many would agree is a formative developmental juncture. Smith was on target, easily digested, and plain spoken:

From the interview, we learned:

--Not everyone can be pleased. This is why there are so many flavors of Doritos, especially in England.

--People say the nastiest things. And are perfectly charming at the family dinner table.

--Anonymous strangers think they can do your job better than you. They can, in select, egregious instances: George W. Bush, anyone?

--We all love bush shots. Note lowercase.

--If you find yourself verbally sparring on line with a fourteen-year-old girl, you should probably get a life. Or a life sentence, depending on the context.

Stranahan's interview wasn't a critical profile of Smith, nor should it have been. It was a refreshing accumulation of emotional responses and, in an Artaudian way, a felling of any remaining wall with a modern filmmaker who has tumbled most of them already.

Lee Stranahan interview with Kevin Smith, Part Four: The Dark Side of the Internet


Stranahan said...

Thanks for the mention and the great summary - a few more buts from the interview are coming, too

Suzanna Mars said...

You're welcome!

I'm looking forward to more in your series.