About a year ago, writer/director Kevin Smith premiered the film Red State at the Sundance Film Festival. While I enjoyed the film, the story behind Smith’s post-film Q&A was what dominated the headlines. Smith’s actions were tantamount to a direct insult to entertainment journalists and film distributors. In fact, Smith had been leading up to this for awhile, with a well-covered rant about press coverage of Cop Out and a refusal to screen Red State for press (or to participate in press events). Some of my film writer colleagues did not take too kindly to this, with people like Drew McWeeny promising never to write about Smith or any of his films forever.
Last night, a Twitter conversation ensued in which McWeeny and several others reaffirmed this position. You can find that conversation in its near entirety by clicking here.
I’ve thought about their position for a long time and I’m going to admit: I just don’t get it. When I think of industries such as politics or technology, most of the primary players in those industries have an antagonistic relationship with the press. There is almost always a disconnect between how someone wants their story/product to be covered, and how an observer/critic wants to cover it. But I cannot remember many instances in which press figures swore off covering someone because that person was being a dick, not to the journalist specifically, but to the press at large. In what other industry would such behavior by journalists be acceptable?
Kevin Smith is a public figure whose actions and films may or may not have significance for the fields he participates in (e.g. film, podcasting, distribution, etc.). Decide whether or not they do, and then proceed accordingly. But shirking your responsibilities because he’s acted dickishly? Because you have a distaste for covering him? Because his neurotic fans make you cringe? That just lessens all of us.
[Side note: I’ve found Exquisite Tweets to be a useful tool for preserving Twitter conversations. So many interesting things get said every day and vanish forever into the ether. This service helps put a stop to that.]