Read Renn’s article and then come back. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
I grew up a fan of Kevin Smith movies. I thought Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy (ok, Dogma too) were witty, irreverent films that were perfect late night, basement viewing for the immature, virginal teenagers my friends and I were. That was then. And where Smith’s writing spoke to my 13-year-old self, I can barely revisit those films as an adult. Smith is a great writer of dialogue, I’ll always lend him that. But as a filmmaker and storyteller, his talents have never extended past the ability to sew a few witty bòn móts into otherwise weak narratives. Where the filmmaker once held geekdom by the balls (and could have continued to do so), his escalating refusal to learn even the most rudimentary fundamentals of moviemaking have revealed a petulant, overly defensive egotist.
Unfortunately, there’s still enough developmentally-challenged ticket buyers cheering Smith on to provide him an outlet to lash out at his detractors with Spoilers, a new web series premiering on Hulu. Here’s Smith in an interview with Wired:
“We’re going to do a beat called Movie Goon where like I’ll have on my friend Malcolm Ingram, who hates everything. He’s one of these nihilists. If it’s popular, he can’t stand it. He represents the Internet. So we’ll bring him on and let him have his say and then we’ll beat him up verbally and tell him why he’s wrong — have a good old-fashioned debate.”
“He represents the internet.”
That’s what Kevin Smith thinks you as: One of those “nihilists” who only forms opinions based on dismissing the popular consciousness. We internet peoples hate because we can, not because something sucks. And since when has “a good old-fashioned debate” translated into “we’ll beat him up verbally and tell him why he’s wrong”?
I need to get this out of the way before I straddle my soap box and begin fucking it in the town’s square: I don’t give 3/4 of a solid shit if Kevin Smith disagrees with greater film criticism – on the internet nor in print. That’s his right as a free-thinking human being. But film critics, at least the good ones, also don’t care if you agree with their reviews. That’s sort of the point, you see: to start a discourse about an art form we’re all passionate about.
Smith doesn’t agree with that. He wants you to talk about his films, but only if you like them. If you don’t, Smith dismisses you as a usurper: jealous of his success and unable to assess films for the people (by the people, yeah right). I’ll happily review Hit Somebody, and I’ll approach it 100% with an open mind. That’s my job when the lights go down and the projector fires up – to give you my honest assessment of a film. Agree or disagree, you’ll at the very least know whether I feel a film is worth your hard-earned money. That’s a responsibility I take seriously, and it’s one I’m blessed to have an outlet to perform.
And that’s where Kevin Smith and I differ. I, along with many other critics, want to start a dialogue. Kevin Smith wants to control it. Anyone can discuss film, and everyone should. We as human beings define ourselves in part by the art we love. And it’s through discussion and debate that we refine those very definitions. We don’t need Kevin Smith or his bullshit web series to tell us that.
Smith wants you to believe that film critics are out-of-step with him and his fans. I believe that Kevin Smith is out-of-step with film discourse. I present Spoilers, an anti-movie review show where he and his sheep review movies, and ask you to decide.