In the entire history of the cinema, you'd have a hard time finding a filmmaker who has made himself more accessible than Kevin Smith. From his low-budget convenience-store beginnings to his current incarnation as director of the Bruce Willis comedy "Cop Out," every move the guy has made over the last decade-and-a-half seems to have been chronicled in some sort of media report, blog, tweet, book or podcast.
Which makes it all the more odd that the "Clerks" filmmaker has done very little press to promote his new movie, which opens Friday. Over the last few days, MTV News covered a "Cop Out" press junket and red-carpet premiere in New York City and both times Smith avoided on-camera interviews.
What gives? To say it simply: Kevin is upset at the media. To say it more accurately: There are three factors in play.
"If I'm not the guy who's making Kevin Smith movies then who am I?" - First off is the fact that "Cop Out" represents Kevin's first non-writing directorial effort. Much like recent Woody Allen films, the studio seems intent on marketing it without his famous name — and trailers like this one need to be freeze-framed to even catch his credit block. As Smith recently told MTV Radio in one of the few interviews he has done to promote the film, he agrees with the technique and is trying to step back from his usual media presence.
"['Cop Out'] has nothing to say itself; it's a popcorn movie," he explained. "Let me see if we can work on this other part of the craft, just me as the director, and leave the personality stuff out of it. Because I've got SModcast now, I've got this Twitter account I'm on every day, I do Q&A's onstage all the time. So I can be myself, express myself in any number of forums.
"Before, it used to just be the films, so I'd do it in my films — now I can do it everywhere on a regular basis for free; I don't feel the need to put it in films," he added — then admitted that the "Cop Out" experience has him re-evaluating his own place in Hollywood. "Without [making references to my life in films] I'm like, 'Who am I? If I'm not the guy who's making Kevin Smith movies then who am I?' I'm trying to figure out if I have any skills after 15 years as a professional director."
"I'm trying to take the high road" - As everyone and their mother knows by now, Smith was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight last week. After tweeting extensively about it, Smith is trying his best to not talk about the situation anymore — in an excellent Huffington Post article, the writer explains that "he seems reticent to even make normal media appearances to promote the film" because he doesn't want people to ask him about Southwest.
On Tuesday (February 23) a follower even went so far as to ask whether Kevin was doing the usual media blitz we would expect to see a few days before one of his films opens. "I did only the print & radio. Skipped TV," he tweeted to his 1.6 million followers. "As all anyone was gonna ask about was SWA, which I'd already said enough about. Despite righteous indignation, [I'm] trying to take the high road." When MTV News approached Kevin's publicity folks for further comment, Warner Bros. declined to make a statement and his personal publicist said, "He very clearly explains himself and the situation [in the tweets]. There is nothing else to add."
"I was so mad at the press" - The final — and most significant — reason why you're not seeing Kevin Smith on TV this week is the same one that has made his audience love him for all these years: The man is brutally honest and talkative to a fault. As he explained in Tuesday's tweet, however, he did speak to a handful of radio outlets — and the aforementioned MTV Radio interview offers unique insight into his mind-set these days.
"It's on my blog. I would waste time talking about it now, but you could pull it off my SModcast where I do the whole story," Kevin responded when asked the inevitable Southwest question. "I did about 24 video clips called 'Final Words' that also contains the whole story. And the blog has it all outlined; it would be a waste of time to go all over it again now."
A good, short, concise, polite answer. The only problem is, fans of Kevin Smith know that such a thing is an impossibility. Sure enough, he spent the rest of the radio interview — approximately one-third of the entire thing — doing exactly what he had just called "a waste of time."
The point seemed to be that Smith wants to get his own message out there and then get back to talking about his movie. So, although we rarely run an article this long, we now present Kevin's unedited thoughts on Southwest, the media and how he was wronged:
"The long story short? My parents taught me if you get f---ed and you don't want to get f---ed, then you start screaming. And that's what happened. I got lied to, I got f---ed over and I started complaining. And the airline was like, 'Well, something did happen — but he is fat and fat people should buy two seats.' And they put the information out there side by side and made it about weight. But it wasn't about weight — it was about a dude who bounced me for no reason, except maybe he didn't like a joke I told him on my way down the Jetway."
"First they were like, 'The pilot told us you have to get off because you're a safety concern.' I was like, 'Are you kidding me? Tell me the pilot's name.' And they lied — they lied again and again ... two days later, they told me, 'The pilot didn't say it, some employee made the call.' And I was like, 'OK, so it had nothing to do [with my weight],' because I could put my armrests down. I literally sat in the seat for five seconds before this chick — who had been all the way up at the desk in the airport — came over. If I just hit my seat and she's saying the pilot wants me off, I was like, 'Where'd you get that message, ma'am?' She's like, 'Well, the pilot told me.' And I can't even see the pilot! I'm sitting in the front row of the bulkhead — if I can't see the pilot, how can he see me?
"She's like, 'Well, we have phones.' And I'm like, 'Well, I know you have phones, ma'am. But I'm telling you — I literally sat and here you are.' She said, 'Can you please just come with me?' The lie compounds; the lie compounds.
"I go outside, I'm like, 'Give me more information,' and she's like, 'The pilot, the pilot.' Two days later, Southwest is going, 'It wasn't the pilot.' But they don't change that on their blog — they don't point out that they've changed the information.
"Everyone's going, 'He's fat' for the next f---ing three days; the top of Google News is everyone in the world telling me I'm fat. Everyone on network [TV] telling me I'm fat; 'Entertainment Tonight' put a f---ing chick in a fat suit and put her on a plane. I'm like, 'What does this have to do [with anything]?'
"Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know how many ways to say this: For 15 years, I've been completely honest with everybody. I believe in honesty. And I've been saying I'm fat for 15 years. This ain't about being fat — they obfuscated the f---ing truth with my fat, which really bums me out. They used my own fat against me. They hid behind my fat. And that's my job — to hide behind my fat.
"The [fat story] is the sexy story that everybody wants to write ... I was so mad at the press because for 15 years I've done nothing but tell you the truth and give you interesting sh-- to write about. And this one time, when you could have come to my aid, all you did was let me dangle and let these f---ers call me fat. Heartbreaking, heartbreaking."