At first, I found his recent behavior irritating. Now I am finding it sad. And he has pushed into a level of mean-spiritedness that I never expected from him.
For me, this started with being disinvited from a Clerks II screening a couple of weeks ago. I had already told the studio that I was aware of Kevin’s sensitivity and that if I disliked the film, my plan was to simply not write about it. It isn’t worth the drama. And really, I have always wanted to turn the corner with Smith, who makes me laugh and still has moments of brilliance that suggest he may hit a truly important vein of humor one of these days.
But still… can’t see the movie. Why? I have always assumed that it was because I once wrote a review of Dogma that said, in part:
Kevin Smith is not a good director. He is a strong writer and an even stronger creator of ideas. But the ideas that Smith had on this one were sabotaged in one part, by his inability to effectively bring to life much of what he put on the page and in the second part, by his lack of perspective as the man pruning his own garden.
But alas, no. It turns out that Kevin is still angry about a passing comment in a September 2000 review of a movie he produced, Vulgar, in which he appeared:
(P.S. I never noticed that Kevin Smith, who produced the film and cameos, has calves the size of a small Shetland Sheep Dog. I felt like I was watching an Incredible Hulk episode with David Banner’s calves caught mid-change.)
And so, I am banished from seeing screenings of Kevin Smith movies.
I decided to shut up and keep it private. But then, I heard from Scott Foundas, who had no idea about my screening disinvitation, and told me about his temporary screening disinvitation. (He tells the story in his positive LA Weekly review of the film, which he eventually saw.)
And then, I read Mark Caro’s story about Kevin drama queening him in Chicago.
And then, Page Six leads today with Joel Siegel’s walkout of the Clerks II screening he was allowed to attend and Kevin’s raging, mean-spirited response.
Still, I was noting it on the front page of MCN, but keeping my part of this quiet.
And then, someone sent me a link to the Opie & Anthony show this morning on which Joel appeared, apologizing from the start. The apology was met with derision and Kevin whining about how Joel disrupted the screening – and offered him more publicity that the film has gotten so far – by harrumphing loudly for 2 seconds on the way out of the room. Kevin threw the Cannes standing ovation at him (preserved in living virtual ink by Weinstein suction machine Roger Friedman). And then, Smith did all he could to degrade Siegel as a man. (Of course, the link is on Kevin’s site… can’t let a thing like this be anything but self-promotion.)
And my reaction is, Fuck Kevin Smith.
I have always thought of him as the guy I would most like to shoot the shit with and who could cut my crap to the core with humor and insight. But for this moment, I have to say, it feels like I was buying the hype. Kevin has become the kind of whinny, thin-skinned bitch (used in the truly non-gender way) that he makes fun of in his films. He has become thoughtless and mean about people who do not kiss his ass like the deity he has built himself into on his sites. (Yes, I see the irony of me writing that… but I don’t think I am quite in Kevin’s class) He has become a hypocrite, who complains about the traits of critics after employing Jeff Wells for 3 years, who is guilty of all the things Smith now claims to hold dear (you don’t attack a person’s physicality… a critic can’t review a movie that he hasn’t sat through… don’t disrupt and distract from others watching the movie). And Smith attacks others in ways that would send him through the roof with rage.
I can only attribute all of this to Smith fearing that a weak response to Clerks II really will mark the end of his ride. The years that Jersey Girl sucked up – I still haven’t seen it… don’t need the grief of ever mentioning it in passing if I felt the way most people seemed to about the film – appears to have weighed heavily on him. And then man who writes about every nerve ending sensation that amuses him is suddenly The Director In The Plastic Bubble.
I hope this will pass. And part of me still hopes that I will someday repair my