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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Should Kevin Smith — or any filmmaker — leave “the personality stuff” out of his films?

From the same MTV article whence came the Kevin Smith quote that formed the core of yesterday’s QOTD about the Southewest Airlines debacle comes a completely unrelated quote from the filmmaker that struck me. About his latest movie, Smith says:

“[‘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 would never have guessed that it was a deliberate choice on Smith’s part to “leave the personality stuff out of “ Cop Out, and hearing this horrifies me. It’s the best explanation I’ve heard so far of why so many Hollywood movies feel so manufactured: the very qualities that would make them unique rather than assembly-line products have been deliberately excised, in the same way that anything that makes a McDonald’s hamburger resemble real food has been removed in an effort to make every single one of them like every other one.

Should Kevin Smith — or any filmmaker — being leaving “the personality stuff” out of his films?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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