Category Archives: Red State

Remind me to renew that restraining order, because I’m going to blast that flick on the internet tonight.

I have a lot of opinions about things. I know, I know, you can feign innocence, with your big doe-eyes and your “whaaaaat? Not YOU!” Be quiet. I have very strong opinions, and I’m not shy about them. It’s not something I’m apologetic about. Why should I be? People make LIVINGS out of blasting the world with their opinions. And you know what they say about opinions. Opinions are ubiquitous and a common, shared trait we all hold dear. What, you thought I was going to go scatological with that?

Well, I am going to be talking about Kevin Smith today. I thought probably I should just ease you into the dick and fart jokes. I didn’t need put the word asshole in the first paragraph. That’s just vulgar.

(Side note: – Conversation with my [very conservative] dad when I told him about the topic of today’s post:

Dad: Why would you write about him? Don’t get me started on him. I hate him.

Me: What? Why? You never hated him before.

Dad: He keeps going to Occupy Wall Street.

Me: Kevin Smith? I think you’re talking about someone else.

Dad: Oh, ho, ho. Nope. He’s all OVER Occupy Wall Street. And it’s ironic because he’s one of the 1%.

Me: Kevin SMITH? Is one of the 1%? I don’t think so, Dad. I mean, I think he’s doing OK, but I don’t think he’s swimming in money. And he Tweets everything. Like, I think he’d Tweet from the BATHROOM. I find it hard to believe that if he was at Occupy Wall Street he wouldn’t have mentioned it.

Dad: He IS. I SAW HIM. On the NEWS today. And people were talking to him about that movie he made, bashing the president, and that anti-gun movie, and…

Me: Are you talking about Michael Moore?

Dad:…yes. Michael Moore. That’s who I’m talking about. You’re not blogging about Michael Moore, are you.

Me: No.

Dad: I like Kevin Smith, don’t I.

Me: Yes. You liked Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Dad: I did like that. Yes. I like Kevin Smith. That’s a good idea for a blog post.)

I’ve talked about this before – most in-depth, probably, here, and also a little here, but Kevin Smith is (well, was, as it’s a done deal, thanks, Woodstock Film Festival!) on my short list of idols I want to meet in person. I know he has his detractors. I’m not completely innocent to the ways of the world. I know there are people who’ve never liked his films, who think he’s too self-promotional, who think he’s loud and crude and 0bnoxious and untalented and doesn’t deserve a place among auteurs. I get it. I hear you.

Thing is? I love him.

I loved Clerks the minute I watched it in 1995, on VHS in a friend’s living room. I loved Mallrats, also on VHS, in my apartment, the following year. I loved Chasing Amy (my name! In a movie title! Aw!) with its little baby Affleck and its lifelong beginnings of my Jason Lee crush. I ADORED Dogma. Still one of my favorite movies of all time. Still moves me to tears. Clerks The Animated Series? One of the funniest moments on television in my entire life (more on this below.) Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back? Stupid as hell. Loved every minute of it. Jersey Girl? Not his finest moment, but appreciated what he was attempting. Clerks II? Enjoyable, foolish, dorky, fun. Zack and Miri Make a Porno? I loved it. Sorry, I know this kind of got drubbed in the press but I really enjoyed. Red State? Crazy-ass departure for Smith. So proud to see how far he’d grown.

I know. I omitted Cop Out. Haven’t seen it. I know. He directed it. He didn’t write it, and from what I’ve read, it sounds like his heart wasn’t in it. I kind of don’t want to believe it exists, so as long as I ignore it, maybe it doesn’t. I live in a fantasy world. Leave me alone.

(The Clerks The Animated Series scene that still makes me laugh, years later? And BTW, this was cancelled too soon, it was AWESOME.  All you have to say is “Who is driving?” and I am GONE. Here. All for you, Damien!)

OK, so here’s the thing. Kevin Smith has brought me a hell of a lot of enjoyment over the years. And he’s just a geek. He loves geeky things, like comics and video games and, yes, scatological humor. He’s never put himself out there as more than he is. He’s very self-deprecating. He’s a good guy, who loves his friends, who works his ass off, who really, really loves what he does. And he makes me laugh. Like, tears in my eyes. And sometimes he makes me cry. And I love him for it. Yeah, sure, they’re probably supposed to be guy movies. Whatever. I like dick and fart jokes as much as I like something dark and moody. I’m allowed. And when I love someone, and they’ve been there for me for years (and since Kevin Smith movies have been there for me since 1995, I’d say he’s stuck around through some pretty serious shit, so good on you, Kev), I get very momma-bear. Like, claws and teeth and BACK THE EFF OFF MY CUB, YOU.

So this happened this week, and you know what?

You can just totally bite me, Sam Adams.  (Really? Sam Adams? That’s…um…a beer or something? Isn’t it? I think I’d probably change that. Just my opinion, that’s all. Opinions. You know how it goes.)

OK, first off, “Kevin Smith’s Army: How his loyal fans prop up a stunningly mediocre career?” Yeah. That’s nice. Are we in a war? I’ll fight for Kevin Smith. I’ll do it with words, right now, Sam Adams, you hoppy mofo. Also, wow. OK, like I said, opinions, assholes, we all have them, blah blah blah. Or is it some people ARE assholes? I always get these things wrong. My apologies.

Now, on Twitter, Sam Adams said that he didn’t write the header/subbheader. So I guess that’s The Slate’s work. Which, BTW, The Slate, I honestly didn’t know you still existed until someone pointed out this article to me. So that’s nice. Good for you, still hangin’ in there! Like a lil’ ol’ kitteh in a treeeeeee! Also, your site sucks and keeps crashing my computer. NOTHING like a kitteh in a tree. Kittehs in trees NEVER crash my computer, Slate. FAIL.

No, now, hold on. That’s not how this war’s going to be won, with mean, mean insults against Sam and his penis size and his talents as a writer and such, and apparently I’ve been drafted. I mean, I guess I have. That’s how the draft works, though, isn’t it? You wake up one day and BAM you’ve totally got your draft card in your mailbox and it’s go to Canada and live with the moose or fight in the war, or maybe protest or something. I guess I’ll fight. I would totally rock camo. Although in Kevin Smith’s army, I’m pretty sure we’re not wearing camo, right, Sam? We’re all “tubby, unshaven guys in long coats and baseball caps who could…work…as Smith’s stand-in.” AWESOME! Well, I’m sort of tubby but that’s a rude thing to call me, I really would prefer zaftig, RUDE. And listen, it’s cold out, so I totally I don’t shave my legs as much as I should. Unshaven FTW. I don’t have a trenchcoat. I have a wool coat that’s pretty long, can I use that? And I totally have a baseball cap. MULTIPLE baseball caps. DEAD RINGER BABY!

So listen. Sam Adams, who is described on one website as being “nice and firm, with a malty backbone, slightly sassy, with a nice smack of hoppy bitterness” (you go, Sam! I am ALSO SLIGHTLY SASSY WANNA FRENCH) really doesn’t dig Kevin Smith. Like, REALLY not. Smith is an “asshole” whose “influence has shrunk,” his movies are “maudlin” (Jersey Girl), ” hollow and impersonal,” (Cop Out), “flat-footed and painfully inept” (Mallrats – also, LIES LIES LIES) and “eccentric” (Dogma). His fans are a horde of hollow soulless geek-people, following Smith’s every move blindly (one of Smith’s appearances is actually referred to as a “circle jerk” – nice, Sam! Classy with a capital K!) and Smith exploits them (or, let’s be honest, I’m one of the hollow [wo]men, “us”) by “raking in the big bucks from his most ardent fans.”

And then there are the final two paragraphs of Sam’s article:

“What’s at issue, of course, is not the $10 cost of a movie ticket, but Smith’s ego and a post-hoc self-righteousness that conveniently followed the bottoming-out of his critical stock. Where, you have to ask, was this hostility to critics when they were hailing the freshness of Clerks, or praising Smith’s grab for maturity with Chasing Amy? The ‘you can’t fire me because I quit’ undertone to Smith’s posturing is so transparent it’s almost sad. He’s become the suburban stoner equivalent of Charles Foster Kane, his faculties dulled by the nattering of yes-men and the uncritical embrace of eager acolytes.

“By Smith’s own token, his career is almost over. He’s said that his next film, the story of an up-and-coming hockey player called Hit Somebody, will be his last—or rather, his last two, since a few months later he said the story had grown too big to fit in a single film. Of course, there’s no one to hold him to that promise. At least no one he’d listen to.”

OK, Sam Adams, we get it. You’re SO OVER Kevin Smith. Point taken, right between my beady little “eager acolyte”‘s eyes.

Now, listen. I know, when I go about attacking people on the internet sometimes they totally vanity Google themselves and then comment in the comments section and I kind of feel like a massive tool. (Because I am VERY IMPORTANT YO.) Which Sam Adams wouldn’t know anything about. Massive tools, I mean. I’M KIDDING SAM ADAMS LIGHTEN UP. So here’s the thing.

I get that Sam Adams doesn’t dig Smith’s movies (or “flicks” as he’s so eager to point out that Smith calls them.) That’s fine. I mean, I don’t get it? But there are a lot of things I don’t get in the world. Like why Silly String needs to exist, or how someone can say “I demand an apology” and assume you’re actually going to go through with it, I mean, that’s like a challenge to NOT apologize, am I right? That’s fine, Sam Adams. It’s even fine to write about not liking them. I mean, journalists and film critics and even (I know! I’m as surprised as you!) things like The Slate exist and people write for them. That’s cool. Good for you, Sam Adams. I’m glad you’re living the dream. And I only found one odd and egregious typo in your article, so that’s nice, thanks, good job with the copyediting, whoever’s in charge of that at The Slate which totally still exists, like a narwhal.

But here’s what I take offense with. I know you say you didn’t write the header and subheader? Which is interesting, because I didn’t realize that when you hit The Slate bigtime someone writes your titles FOR you. That is AWESOME. I want someone to outsource tasks to someday, too. To dream…the impossible dream…ahem. AHEM I SAID DAMMIT. But it’s not just the title. It’s the characterization of Smith as a master puppeteer, controlling his empty-headed (and male) fans to follow his bidding, to watch his (bad) movies, to be his little minions of evil. He is our Bad Horse, Sam Adams, and we are his Evil League of Evil.

See, I have a brain, Sam Adams. And it is a totally awesome thing, and here’s one of the things it does. It chooses, among the millions and billions of things that are available for me to love and like and loathe and what-have-you, what I’m going to enjoy the most of all. What’s going to make me laugh, and what’s going to make me want to come back for more, and what’s going to make my chest get all fluttery and proud and happy. And one of those things? Is Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith, and his movies, and his books, and his comics, and his podcasts. He doesn’t have me drugged with a weird geek roofie (why isn’t this a thing? SOMEONE MAKE THIS A THING) or anything. I found him, with the help of a friend who is no longer in my life, and he stayed. He won me over with “I wasn’t even supposed to BE here today!” and kept me with “That kid is back on the escalator again!” and “Your mother’s a tracer!” and “I have issues with anyone who treats God as a burden instead of a blessing. You people don’t celebrate your faith; you mourn it.”

Am I a geeked-out fangirl? Yes. But do I follow blindly? No. My eyes are open, Sam Adams. I can see what works and what doesn’t. But here’s the thing, and I think I sensed almost a bit of…oh, I don’t know, call it sour grapes with you? A little “why HIM, why the FAT ASSHOLE, why so many FRIENDS” in your article? Kevin Smith, whether it’s a very, very good act (although I met him, and acted like a complete weirdo, as described in all its gory detail in the link above, so I don’t think so) or it’s genuine, is one of us. One of his so-called geek army. But he moved to the head of the class, while retaining his geeky qualities and his personable demeanor and his attitude of “I really can’t believe I get to DO this” and it’s for this, just as much for the movies he’s given us over the years, the comics, the podcasts, the books, the shows, that we love him. He’s a geek success story. He remains humble. I mean, the guy got asked to leave a plane because he was too fat to fly, Sam. This is one of us. We’re a fat country. Maybe not in your eyes; you seem to see him – and I’m quoting your Twitter feed directly, not putting uninvited words in your mouth – as ” hunkering down in his basement Xanadu and living off (his fans) uncritical adulation.” He’s your Mr. Potter, your scurvy little spider spinning his webs the empty-headed geeks are all scurrying to wrap themselves in, even as they are being poisoned by them. But we know what we’ve got, and we still like him. Does me make mistakes? Sure. But you know what? So do my best friends. Yet I still love them. Do I worry about his weight and that he’s smoking too much pot and that he says he’s leaving directing? Sure I do. Again, I worry about people I care about. He wins, Sam Adams. He’s got people who care about his well-being who don’t even know him personally. So where does that leave your article?

Well, you don’t think he’s grown as a filmmaker. I see his progression, but here’s the thing; he’s gotten more polished and more skilled with the filmmaking aspect of it, but he still goes to the same well for the ideas. Well, (no pun intended), don’t a lot of people do this? I mean, Stephen King’s been going to that same well full of supernatural fish for decades, and it’s serving him well enough, I think. No complaints from me, or, I think, from him. People have their comfort zone. I am not ever going to write the great American novel. You know why? Adult onset ADD oh look shiny. But I like television, and movies, and books, and sometimes I make people laugh. So that’s my well. And that’s cool, because look, people come and see what I’ve done, and that jazzes the hell out of me. You’ve probably got your thing, I mean, you, I don’t know, criticize things? All I see on The Slate are a couple of articles, but you’re a critic, I guess. That’s YOUR well. Smith’s well is potty humor, intelligent rapid-fire phrasing, and geek culture. And he’s GOOD at it. Why would he go to another well when he’s got this one to draw water from?

Sam. Sam, Sam, Sam. We’re going to have to agree to disagree, I guess. Much like Holden and Banky in their fight over Alyssa; much like Randall and Dante in their fight that trashed the Quick Stop; much like the fight that drove apart Brodie and Rene, only there will be no reconciliation on a dating game show for us.

I’ve been here long enough, Sam, and must go, or I will be declared AWOL from my post in Smith’s Army. They don’t like that. You have to sing “Berzerker” as your penance, and if you miss one word, EVEN ONE, they take away your Kevin Smith fan club card. IT IS THE WORST, Sam. They don’t just give those AWAY, Sam.

Opinions, Sam. Assholes. We all have them. Just don’t use yours to shit on other’s happy, ok? Because that’s really a flagrant disuse of it.

I refuse to labor today. Therefore I didn’t work on this post much. IT IS MY RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN.

It’s Labor Day! Our nation’s most ironically-titled holiday. Hooray!

As it’s Labor Day, I really should celebrate by not-laboring. So someone else really should come over here and do my laundry, dishes, housecleaning, and write today’s blog entry, so I’d be free to finish the book I’ve been reading for two weeks, watch a little television, and make my lunch appointment without rushing around like a maniac. WHY AREN’T YOU ALL JUMPING IN TO VOLUNTEER. This is a fantastic opportunity.


Let’s talk about things that are upsetting. How is this different from what I do on any other day? IT ISN’T.

First: True Blood.

(spoilers, so if you’re not up on, and caught up to, last night’s episode, skip ahead. Or just read, because you know what? IT ISN’T WORTH YOUR TIME.)

True Blood was one of my favorite things when it first came out. I’d read the series; other than the silliness quotient (rather high at times), it was entertaining and enjoyable. Season One was one of the best shows on television. Alan Ball, I was convinced, could do no wrong. Yes, Sookie was a complete numbskull and Bill annoyed the piss out of me, but the cast of supporting characters was amazing enough that you could ignore the two of them and just daydream about Pam and Eric when they were on doing their “Sookeh! Beeel!” bullshit and all was well.

Season Two was a crapfest, and no one understood really what was going on there. Orgies! All the time! So many orgies! Bloody orgies with old people whose bodies were not enjoyable to look upon! Supporting cast was still fun, but the orgy thing (which I’m pretty sure was Alan Ball thinking, “People? They like the nudity! Let’s have lots! Plot? Eh. Whatever”) was exhausting. 

Season Three was better – not back to the glory that was Season One, but better.

And now we’re in Season Four, and it is not only a crapfest, it is an ENTIRE CRAP ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT-BUFFET. Witches – which aren’t a bad idea – have taken over the plot. And they are ridiculously stupid and the plot is poorly written with holes you could pilot the Titanic through and none of the previously saving-grace supporting characters are even acting like they’re supposed to and are being given enough screen time because IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EFFING WITCHES. Someone asked me if they should watch an episode they had DVR’d and I told them the best thing I had to say about the episode was that Jessica’s hair was shiny and sometimes Jason was funny, a little. And that was being kind, because Jessica’s hair wasn’t that shiny and Jason wasn’t that funny. Alan Ball checked OUT for this season. It is AWFUL. An example: last night, the witches were attempting to kill all the vampires (as they have in almost every episode this season.) Sookie didn’t want this to happen so she decided to use her magical fairy hands to stop them and flashed the witches with fairy light. OK, fine. But the head witch got angry and put Sookie in a ring of flames that kept moving in closer to her as punishment, attempting to kill her. Sookie – whose magical hands can restore memory, erase curses, knock people off their feet, etc. – just stood there, whining for help, crying out for “Beeel! Eric!” over and over, and not doing anything to help herself. OK, so you’re able to save all the vampires one second, but unable to save yourself immediately after? Why is that, exactly? Pam asked Eric and Bill why they were going to risk the entire vampire race for “a gash in a sundress” last night and I completely agree (and I heart Pam because apparently she is the only voice of reason in the entire town.) Seriously? Sookie has NO PERSONALITY. She just sits there looking pretty, puts out, and once and a while yells at people and has fairy hands. Wow. Totally one-in-a-million! Unfortunately, the fire did not kill her, so we’re still dealing with her nonsense and whining and inability to choose between lovers and whatnot.

Also, they FINALLY killed off the head witch, who has been the most annoying character alive for the entire season, and then BROUGHT HER BACK TEN MINUTES LATER. Alan Ball! I kind of want to punch you in the throat right now.

Next: J.C. Penney.

Last week, J.C. Penney – totally on the pulse of fashion! – came out with this shirt for children and teens:
The tagline on the website read: “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that just as cute and sassy as she is.”

After Twitter went utterly and completely bugshit over it, J.C. Penney discontinued the shirt, but the point is – IT MADE IT ONTO THE WEBSITE. This was marketed to young girls.

If it didn’t result in so many people being furious at the store, I’d assume J.C. Penney (who, let’s face it, really isn’t super-hip or buzzed about at the moment) had done this in a trolly, “it will get people talking and any publicity is good publicity” way. And maybe they did? They seem like they’re run by old people. And maybe old people think “Oh, the Tweeter! We have to get people Twitting about us on the Tweeter. This will do it!” I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like this could be for real, does it? I mean, this looks like a joke t-shirt. Like something you’d see on a super-ironic hipster, or a homeless person who found it in a dumpster.

We had Teen Talk Barbie in the 90’s with her “Math class is tough!” and we have Maggie Goes on a Diet coming out in October which is rumored to encourage our teenage girls right into eating disorders and, in real life, we had my freshman year science teacher, when I had trouble understanding a concept and had asked for further help with it, telling me not to bother – “Girls don’t have a brain that’s wired to understand science” and my Physics teacher, a few years later, telling me a variant on the same thing: “Physics is for boys; it’s ok that you didn’t do as well on the test, because you’re a girl, and physics is too hard for girls.”

Stand still, young girls. Look pretty, young girls. Be quiet, young girls. Smile big, young girls. Don’t fight, young girls. Don’t try, young girls. Don’t worry, young girls. Be perfect, young girls. Be nothing, young girls. Be empty, young girls. Don’t bother, young girls.

Young women of the world: society is going to continue to put you down. It is up to you to fight that. Guess what? You are just as capable as a young man of doing well in school. You are just as capable as a young man of doing well in stereotypically MALE courses – math, science, computer science, effing WOOD SHOP, if that still even exists? – as a young man. Until we no longer accept things like this, they will keep happening.

Also, Justin Bieber? Really? Sigh.

Now, to balance out the negative: two things that are shiny-awesome:

First: hope for a new generation.

Banned Book week is fast approaching, and we’ll discuss that more when it gets here, but I found this the other day and it just made my heart soar.

There are kids who are making a difference out there. There are kids like this one who are running an illegal banned-book library out of an empty school locker. (And, even better? She didn’t include Twilight in her secret library. You know, because it isn’t literature. I love this kid.) She’s probably going to get caught, but you know what? She did it. She believed in something and she did something about it. This kind of kid is the reason I don’t completely despair about the state of society. Her parents are raising her right, too. I don’t want kids? But I’d want this one.

Second: Red State.

As mentioned in the past, I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan. His new movie, Red State, is out on VOD this week, so last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I rented it and watched it.

It’s not a typical Kevin Smith movie, first off. There are Kevin Smith touches – dialogue is dense, well-written and crisp; monologues are typical Smith (which some people might hate, and he can be a bit heavy-handed, but I love them); camera work is beautiful (which may not as much be Smith as the cinematographer? I have a theater background where it’s all the director, so I’m not sure.) 

It’s not a comedy, though. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but if you want to remain completely spoiler-free, probably go to your barbecue now?

At heart, it’s a thriller. Three boys are lured into a cult-like fanatic religion and the ATF shows up on rumors of automatic weaponry being amassed. It’s upsetting. Really, really upsetting. Bloody and gory-upsetting, yes, but crazy fanatacism upsetting, which I find scarier any day than clowns or zombies or creepy children jumping out from behind things with knives.

The cult leader is based on that nutbar Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church (but ISN’T him, as Phelps is actually mentioned by one of the law-enforcement officers.) And if you think Phelps hates homosexuality…wait until you meet this guy. You might think it’s over-the-top – but it’s not, not really. There are people like this. And that’s horrifying. It frightened me to the point of tears.

The violence is realistic and very bloody. If you have an issue with that, don’t watch it. There’s a little humor, but not much. Lots of stars – Kevin Alejandro from True Blood, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kevin Pollack, apparently Marc Blucas but I never saw him or recognized him, Kyle Gallner from Veronica Mars, Stephen Root, Betty Aberlin from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Jennifer Schwalbach. 

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all – but it was very powerful. And very upsetting. I recommend it. But don’t go into it expecting it to be like anything you’ve seen from Kevin Smith before.

Happy Labor Day, all! Enjoy the day off. Barbecues! Alcoholic beverages! End of summer! Last day for white pants! (I can’t imagine even owning white pants. That would be such a mistake. Can you IMAGINE the things I would spill on them? Disaster! Waiting to happen!)

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