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Cop Out's Kevin Smith Calls Out Critics and Gets Slammed

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 24, 2010 at 8:18AM

Kevin Smith may be remembered not as a gifted screenwriter and not-so-great director and occasional comic relief player but as the guy who pioneered self-marketing on the internet. He was an early adopter, with movie-poop-shoot.com and other sites; his Twitter account @ThatKevinSmith logs over 1 million followers. He loves hanging out on Twitter, engaging directly with his fans. And they loyally show up to his movies. But there are only so many of them.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Kevin Smith may be remembered not as a gifted screenwriter and not-so-great director and occasional comic relief player but as the guy who pioneered self-marketing on the internet. He was an early adopter, with movie-poop-shoot.com and other sites; his Twitter account @ThatKevinSmith logs over 1 million followers. He loves hanging out on Twitter, engaging directly with his fans. And they loyally show up to his movies. But there are only so many of them.

Smith, whose corpulence led to a much retweeted encounter with Southwest Airlines, is not a happy camper right now. I skipped his latest movie Cop Out, because what I like best about Smith's indie movies, from Clerks and Chasing Amy to Dogma and the unfortunately-titled Zack and Miri Make a Porno, are his scripts. I'm often disappointed by their rough execution--but Smith always makes me laugh. So why set himself up by directing a movie written to formula by someone else? In order to prove that he could--and break out of the Kevin Smith fan ghetto. (Another well-compensated Smith sideline is doing scatologically hilarious--and oft-YouTubed--talks on the lecture circuit.)

Well, Cop Out, a buddy cop comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, scored the best gross of Smith's career ($42.8 million) and a miserable 19% Tomatoscore. So Smith (aka Silent Bob) is now striking back--at whom? The critics (many of whom are personally fond of the guy). But having tweeted his feelings, now Smith's brought them down on his head. Worth it? You be the judge.

Here's the original text, strung together:

It starts innocently here, as he answers one fan query:

@coked_up_jesus "I gotta say that every day I hate film theory & film students & critics more & more. Where is the fun in movies?" Sir sometimes, it's important to turn off the chatter. Film fandom's become a nasty bloodsport where cartoonishly rooting for failure gets the hit count up on the ol' brand-new blog. And if a schmuck like me pays you some attention, score! MORE EYES, MEANS MORE ADVERT $. But when you pull your eye away from the microscope, you can see that shit you're studying so closely is, in reality, tiny as fuck. You wanna enjoy movies again? Stop reading about them & just go to the movies. It's improved film/movie appreciation immensely for me.

He's building up a head of steam:

Seriously: so many critics lined-up to pull a sad & embarrassing train on #CopOut like it was JenniferJasonLeigh in LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN. Watching them beat the shit out of it was sad. Like, it's called #CopOut; that sound like a very ambitious title to you? You REALLY wanna shit in the mouth of a flick that so OBVIOUSLY strived for nothing more than laughs. Was it called "Schindler's Cop Out"? Writing a nasty eview for #CopOut is akin to bullying a retarded kid who was getting a couple chuckles from the normies by singing AFTERNOON DELIGHT.

And then explodes:


Suddenly, bully-dudes are doing the bad impression of him, using the "retart" voice. The crowd shifts uncomfortably. And you may impress a couple of low IQ-ers who're like "Yeah, man! Way to destroy that singing retart!" But, really? All you've done is make fun of something that wasn't doing you any harm and wanted only to give some cats a some fun laughs. It was just ridiculous to watch. That was it for me. Realized whole system's upside down: so we let a bunch of people see it for free & they shit all over it? Meanwhile, people who'd REALLY like to see the flick for free are made to pay? Bullshit: from now on, any flick I'm ever involved with, I conduct critics screenings thusly: you wanna see it early to review it? Fine: pay like you would if you saw it next week. Like, why am I giving an arbitrary 500 people power over what I do at all, let alone for free? Next flick, I'd rather pick 500 randoms from Twitter feed & let THEM see it for free in advance, then post THEIR opinions, good AND bad. Same difference. Why's their opinion more valid? It's a backwards system. People are free to talk shit about ANY of my flicks, so long as they paid to see it. Fuck this AnimalFarm bullshit.

Predictably, the reaction was fierce: from Devin Faraci at CHUD, Karina Longworth and Movieline, and all over Twitter. Here's a mere sampling:

@rejects I was under the impression weed mellowed people out. Guess not.
@rejects: I really want to write about this Kevin Smith thing but it's so deeply depressing to see a filmmaker act this way, I just can't
@scottrenshaw Kevin Smith? Armond White. Armond White? Kevin Smith. You two should have a lot to talk about.
@filmjunk Kevin Smith's about to learn the hard way that the internet giveth and the internet taketh away. This is amusing.
@scotteweinberg I know enough parents to know you're supposed to ignore a shrieky tantrum. COP OUT, indeed.
@scotteweinberg I'll lean into anyone who dismisses my profession and my colleagues with such childish ignorance. I only wish it was someone I disliked.
@scotteweinberg Film critics want to introduce you to hundreds of good films. Film directors want to introduce you to THEIR films. So stfu silent bob.
@brandonconnelly Never followed @ThatKevinSmith though I will keep watching his films (and anybody else's, for what it's worth) and still only like half too.

Here's a relevant clip from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back:

This article is related to: Directors, Web/Tech, Reviews, Indies, Marketing, Kevin Smith, Twitter


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.