That's right. I don't like Kevin Smith. I'm not saying I virally hate Kevin Smith like I virally hate Dave Matthews Band...I just don't like him...and it isn't for lack of trying on my part. At one time I owned all the movies. I read some of the comics he wrote for. I even went and saw Kevin Smith live when he came to Springfield. And some of it I even liked. I laughed when Jay would make some grotesque sexual innuendo. I found his comic book writing style interesting. I even thought he spun a good yarn when I saw him live. But as much as I laughed I always came away from each Kevin Smith experience questioning myself. "Is this really that good?" I would wonder. "Is Dogma really as clever as I think it is?" I'd ask myself again. "Is Kevin Smith a genius?" I never gave these questions too much thought. I just went about my life thinking that Kevin Smith must be a genius or else everyone would hate him. Then two things would happen and all that would change.
One Sunday at Dungeons and Dragons, a conversation was hatched. We were discussing the recently released Clerks II (which I didn't care for). Two of my friends, who hated Kevin Smith anyway, were ragging about the film, saying it was the same Kevin Smith bullshit all his movies hang their hat on - dick jokes, fart jokes, and Jay and Silent Bob. Another friend, who was a Smith fanatic, loved the film and said the dick jokes, fart jokes, and Jay and Silent Bob were exactly the reasons why it and Smith were great. I listened to the argument unfold and at the end I had to side with my friends who hated Kevin Smith because I believe they were dead on with the Kevin Smith Movie Formula, that ultimately they rely on dick jokes, fart jokes, and Jay and Silent Bob.
Don't get me wrong. I like a good dick joke, and I love a good fart joke, but I don't necessarily think they make for strong comedy. Groucho Marx gave an interview on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971 and in it he talks about the use of vulgarity in Hollywood. Basically, Groucho says that anyone can go on stage and say something dirty and get a laugh, and that it takes a true comedian to get a laugh with a clean joke. Here's the interview:
I actually agree with this. I think there are a lot of great comedians who use vulgarity in their acts, but at the end of the day I don't think they're as strong from a comedic standpoint as Bill Cosby, or Steve Martin, or Red Skelton, or Justin Wilson, or Jack Benny (the list goes on). For me, Kevin Smith's use of vulgarity is good for a laugh, but it's a cheap laugh, and I can't call him a genius for that. As for Jay and Silent Bob...I see them as a crutch. Kevin Smith has said on many occasions that he would like to start making films without this duo, and in fact tried once with Jersey Girl which was a flop. So how did Smith follow-up his flop? Another movie with Jay and Silent Bob is how. I'm not against using gimmicks to make money. If you have a product that makes money and you want to exploit that product to make money then go for it! I would probably do the same if I had a gimmick that people were into. However, again, I can't call doing that genius because to me it goes back to that "too easy thing." It's too easy for Smith to throw Jay and Silent Bob into a film and give them a huge array of dick jokes and fart jokes. He knows their presence is going to bring people out to the theater and sell tickets. This is not genius...it's just savvy business sense.
So is Kevin Smith a genius? Is he one of the best directors in Hollywood? Well, I don't think so, but if you talk to any Kevin Smith fanatic, and ask them to name off the best directors in Hollywood, Kevin Smith's name will almost always come up next to names like Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, Kubrick, and others, and they get so mad if you disagree with their assessment. Ultimately, what I think wins the argument is Smith's own assessment of himself. He has admitted time and time again that he is just making movies about dick and fart jokes and that being compared with the best directors in Hollywood is probably a hasty judgment. Anyway, that about does it for my latest installment of Things People Assume I Like But I Really Don't. Now bring on the hate!