Earlier today, Kevin Smith dedicated some time to letting the people who follow his twitter feed know that he strongly dislikes the state of modern film criticism. Shortly afterward, Devin Faraci from CHUD dedicated some time to responding by claiming Smith wasn’t a filmmaker to watch for anymore.
The move was more rhetorical than literal – I’m sure a dedicated critic such as Faraci would see as many movies as possible during the year – as I’m sure Smith’s call for charging critics at the door was just as reactionary. Faraci makes some interesting points about how sad it is to see a director who was once lauded as an iconoclast, a man snoochie-booching and try-not-to-suck-any-dicks-on-your-way-to-the-parking-lotting his way into the intimate world of indie film turn into a man aiming for the middle. He also points out that Smith’s admitting that his latest film Cop Out is like a retarded child on the playground that we shouldn’t make fun of is a tacit concession that we absolutely shouldn’t pay attention to him anymore.
This is probably all true, but there’s one glaring issue being overlooked by the many like Faraci who wrote editorials today: none of this has anything to do with film.
Deep in the heart of all the comments, Smith is right about one thing. He might be over-simplifying the situation, but it seems hard to refute that film culture has become more about personality, spectacle, production budgets, and box office than simply focusing on what happens during a run time. Or at least it’s become more about that than we’d like.
I’m not saying that Faraci is right or that he’s wrong – his opinion is irrelevant. At best it’s an editorial response to a vat of sour grapes from a noted filmmaker and at worst, it’s proving the filmmaker right. It’s proving that we’d rather gawk at the car crash than, er, analyze film.
Terrible analogies aside, I personally don’t care about what Smith said today. Would it make for an interesting interview? Of course. Would I love to discuss the shortcomings of criticism in the internet age? Definitely (because it would bore the hell out of our readers). Does anything Smith said have any bearing on the quality of his films? Not at all.
Honestly – is anything, anything at all that takes place in a twitter feed worthy enough to diagnose a filmmaker as culturally irrelevant? Of course there isn’t. The only thing that deems a director culturally worthy is what goes on between the title cards and the credits. Smith’s outburst today is the twitter equivalent of an actress flashing her panties getting out of a limo – it doesn’t affect her acting skills, and it’s beneath us to even comment on it.
Feel free to point out the irrelevancy of responding to an irrelevant editorial, or how it’s beneath us to comment on an editorial that comments on something that should be beneath it. I’m right there with you. However, sometimes it’s nice to steer the focus back away from the brink (read: twitter) and back to films for even just a second if possible.
And that’s what really matters. Smith will continue making films, and I will continue watching them (horrifically free of charge), and I will revel as the theater lights go down and the title cards go up. Whether I like, love or hate the flick (be it smart and moving, or silly and entertaining) will be entirely up to the movie itself (and the hundreds and hundreds of people that made it alongside the director). I will do this because it’s my job – one I take seriously, and one I enjoy.
Meanwhile, I’m going to go watch a movie. You’re more than welcome to join me.