Mar 25, 2010

To Whom it May Concern: Kevin Smith

Over the past few days, there has been quite a stir between Kevin Smith and the critics over his latest effort, "Cop Out". His Twitter account has lit up with words inspiring critics to not shit all over his work and to pay to see his movie. There are numerous complaints and I have done plenty of research into the case and it feels like this is one of the times I will have to disagree with the man I call hero.

Since July of 2006, I have called him hero for inspiring me to write. I considered his work up until that point to be very well spoken and the book "Silent Bob Speaks", a collection of articles detailing pop culture, remains one of the most influential books in my collection. What drew him to me was his ability to turn life's interests into necessities or character in emotion. His ability to turn a debate on Archie's sexuality into personal viewpoints is totally inspired.
And I continued to follow him through the years. I read his blogs, bought his books, and even went to see "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" on opening day. I cannot say I drivel on his every step because he is very prolific and sometimes mystery is more intriguing.
So basically, I loved him not on his own life, but because of his movies, which could be studies on social issues if they were inclined. I do not listen to his SModcasts nor read all of his Twitter posts any more. Why? It's not because I'm burned out on him, but because he has become obsessed with posting the same stories over and over about his sexual life and his movie posts seem to go on a 1:50 ratio.
This back story helps to justify what is yet to come in my post.
As many will undoubtedly know, he recently released a movie called "Cop Out", which for the most part has received bad press because of lack of creativity and uninspired performances. Many are being kind and blame the writers, the Cullen Brothers.
I blamed so much more than that in my review. I called the jokes uninspired and very non sequitur, sure, but I blamed Smith's innovation for a lot. He wanted to do action and drama, and his craft in those fields hasn't matured any bit. This made for a mixed result that turned my review into an open letter to call this a learning step.
In truth, it is sometimes hard emotionally to tell your hero that his work sucks, and for awhile, I repressed this concept, choosing to just call it a misfire. But as time went on, I began to think hard on the actual movie, not my devotion to Kevin Smith.
It wasn't why I liked his movies at all. There was no commentary, the parody didn't reflect the ridiculous foibles of the genre, but instead gave a hashed up plot that was just not that thrilling. It had it's moments, but the more I hear from Kevin Smith's mouth, the more I am intrigued to hate this film.
In the last few days, he has gotten out of hand, comparing his work to a retard getting beaten up by bullies. A logical comparison, but by those standards, you just called your work retarded. Where is the justice in that?
In fact, where is the justice in this case when this very director has used homophobia and obesity humor in majority of his movies, but he can't take bad criticism...
It continued to break my heart when I discovered that his real opinions of the movie that were it was some stupid movie where you turn off your brain and just have fun.
It's this kind of thinking that keeps one from facing progression. It is ironic since Kevin Smith ended his Jersey trilogy to try to do just that. He started off well with "Jersey Girl" and "Zack and Miri", and "Cop Out" was indeed a good trial run, but his attitude about failing seems to a regression. He hasn't really captured what made me love his movies from earlier, but they have been solid attempts for the most part, and I give him credit for that.
Another issue is the concept that we can just turn our brains off and watch movies for stupid fun. It has been done, but usually there is substance to these attempts. This man, who I assumed would take his first non-writing credit and work hard to make it work has passed it off as something just to call stupid. It's heart breaking to hear a filmmaker clearly not sound passionate about his own work while defending it for no real reason. Reminds me of the "Mallrats" days, personally.
The clencher was a simple one. He got offended when critics bashed his movie and then claimed that they are no more worthy to review a movie than a random person. He denounces credibility and journalism as a career and that if they want to shit on his movie, they should pay for a ticket.
Where does this guy get off not letting critics review his piece with their own opinions? Didn't he bash "Lord of the Rings" no more than four years ago? Is that not criticism? And besides, there is a general populous that have come to rely on critic's consensus of movies to convince people to either see or skip certain movies.
For example... would anyone have even cared about "The Hurt Locker" had it not gotten good press? It may have been a dud at the box office, but it does capture an audience on the DVD market thanks to good buzz.
Same can be said for movies like "Speed Racer" that went from amazing promise to the failure of the year.
In blunt, everyone has done a bad movie, a bad move, or something they are not proud of. It's not so much what they do that should define the character of the person, but the reaction. Be humble, admit defeat, and move on.
Or, if you're passionate about the project, just admit it wasn't everyone's thing and live with it. Don't criticize the review committee as being worthless. While it isn't ethical, one critic against you can't do anything, but to pit everyone against you may come across rebellious, but it's also pretty stupid.
And the random people clause? Where's the credibility in that? "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" made $800 million despite bad press. Should we let every person who saw that tell us that their opinion is more valid than a critic? Should they be able to tell us that the film was amazing but back it with no personal study on cinematography and other innovative techniques?
I can understand why Kevin Smith would be scared of this feedback. No one wants to admit they were wrong. His humbleness, however, has gone to pot. I defended him on the Southwest Airline debate, but this just seems ridiculous attack on innocent bystanders.
As the director, he is the main representation of this film, and to call it a retarded child, to call it a "turn your brain off" venture is just depressing.
As I have gotten older, I have found myself venturing to directors that have done more creative work. One of my personal favorites has to be the Coen Brothers, who continue to do what they want when they want. I see Kevin Smith that way, but while the Coens continue to mix things up and bend genres, Smith chooses to wade around in acceptance of a mediocre effort.
Sure, I admit this was a failed attempt, but Smith's attitude makes me hate "Cop Out" more. He must learn to face criticism like the rest of us and not feel ashamed if he fails every now and then. I am a fan and if he is so inclined to have invited me to an advance preview of the screening with these other strangers, I would've been honest. Unfortunately, that probably would've put him against strangers, too, and soon he would just be making movies that his select fan base would see without real feedback.
I still stand by him because his upcoming work shows new, interesting directions that will be scripted by him. It is too soon to know if getting back as the scribe will revive his passion or if he has officially entered a decline in his once euphoric style.

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