The ramblings and musings of author and musician Geoffrey Young Haney.
Much more coherent and loveable fare from his wife, Michelle.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Inspirations Week Day 2: Kevin Smith

*disclaimer: Kevin Smith is a man who does not care if you are at work, so clicking on some of these links may lead you to sites you might not want your boss to see you on. It's not nakey-time or anything. It's just... let's say... Smith doesn't care about offending you. Or your boss.

Yes, I am in fact inspired by a guy who wrote and directed a movie called Zack and Miri Make a Porno; a man known for raunchy jokes and his superfluous use of the F word; a man who is "too fat to fly." But underneath all this stuff, and beyond what all the critics or haters love to shout about him, Kevin Smith is a man devoted to his craft, to story-telling, to his family, and to giving back.

I don't remember when Smith first caught my attention - it's kind of like he's always been there - but I can pin-point certain mile-markers, if you will, on the road that led to my slight obsession with everything he talks about. And for a man synonymous with a character named "Silent Bob," Kevin Smith has a LOT to talk about.

I really enjoy all of Smith's movies on some level or another (yes, I'm one of 8 people that didn't mind Jersey Girl.) But its his 1999 film Dogma that gets the most re-watches in the Haney household. I don't know if its simply the laughs, or the underlining message, or Alan Rickman as a super-angel, or all of the above. This film has shaped my thinking. One thing that gets lost in the raunchy nature of Kevin Smith is that he actually has a pretty strong faith in God. I struggle sometimes with his conflicting stances on a few things, but he does not hide the fact that grew up a very devout Catholic, that his faith shaped his world view, that his daughter is baptized, and that he is a believer in God. Dogma is really the only film that gives us that side of Smith, and it's a side I like. What he says throughout the movie about what faith and religion mean is pretty interesting. How I, as a fellow believer, grapple with the two sides of Smith is also an interesting exercise. Can a guy this vulgar outwardly really be Godly at heart? And who am I to judge it? What's my stance as a believer? I'm by no means saying Smith is a model Christian, but I don't know... maybe I'm reading into it. Maybe with Kevin Smith, what you see if what you get. But, like I said, its interesting to ponder. And I'd love to pick his brain about how he views his dichotomy.

Either way, Dogma is a great flick with a stellar cast, and definitely worthy of repeat viewings.

I dove deeper into Smith's head when I burrowed his first book, Silent Bob Speaks, from my brother-from-another-mother Keenan. This book is basically an all-access pass to the director's life - including all the interesting film stuff (on the set of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl) as well as the gross and awkwardly funny personal stuff (sex with his wife, bowel movements) that you sometimes can't believe someone would actually talk about in a public forum. I'll let Alan Moores of Booklist sum it up better than I can:

"Smith, director of the indie hit movie Clerks as well as Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, gathers here more than two-dozen columns he has written for the Left-leaning British political-cultural magazine arena. These pieces, however, are to columns what most sweatpants are to dress slacks: far more casual and a lot dirtier. His rants and raves are all over the place: Britney Spears, masturbation, David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, lap dances, Spider-Man, the author's "morbid obesity," a nude painting of Smith's wife, and interviews with Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise, among others. Through the mess, we see Smith's appealing fidelity to his craft and to his family within an industry that tears at both. There are surprisingly candid insights into how a director prepares for a film, especially the delicate politics of casting. And, as shamelessly fawning as he is, Smith inspires wonderful conversation from Affleck and Cruise, both of whom seem to reflect genuine appreciation for Smith's work."

So yea, that about says it all. Why I admire Smith so much is right here in this book. He's blunt as all hell, incredibly loyal to his friends and family, and always able to make me laugh. This book is SURELY not for everyone (just as Smith's movies aren't for everyone,) and it really helps to have a handle on some of his films first (just so you know what you're getting yourself into.) But for a Smith fan looking for an easy comedy read, it's a good one to check out.

And for someone looking to REALLY hear Silent Bob Speak, check out, where Smith and a host of friends (wife Jennifer, Jason Mewes aka Jay, Scott Mosier) appear in a variety of pod cast programing and talk incessantly on various topics available. I'm currently really loving Smodcast, the O.G. of the group, and Smoviemakers, where Smith has so far interviewed filmmakers Edgar Wright and Richard Kelly, two cool cats who would probably make a longer list of my influences... top 20 I'm sure.

Not too long ago (so recently, in fact, that it doesn't yet have its own website) Smith co-founded a foundation that deals with putting an end to human sex trafficking. As stated on their page at View Askew Productions:

The Wayne Foundation's vision is for a world without child slavery. Our mission is to provide young women who have fallen victim to commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking with a means of leaving the sex industry for good. The Wayne Foundation is committed to fighting human trafficking, child prostitution, & child sex exploitation one victim at a time by providing individuals with a safe home environment that will empower them with the tools they will need to stop the cycle of abuse. It is our intent to end commercial sex exploitation within the United States through direct victim assistance, public outreach, and by directly working with those who shape the policies and statutes which impact victims and their abusers.

We believe that all victims can be rehabilitated through a program that provides education assistance, mental and physical health services, housing, and a support staff who are dedicated to assisting these girls reach their full potential. It is our objective to aid these young women until they are capable of reentering society on their own as happy and healthy adults.

Co-founded by a survivor of child prostitution, Jamie Walton, The Wayne Foundation's first big objective is to set up safe houses for the young victims of sex trafficking. They are currently taking donations, and I highly encourage you to donate. If you're someone fickle like me and you want something for money (you know, besides that warm feeling that comes from doing what is right and good) I suggest checking out this little site right here, where you can download (for a donation of at least $.90) a wonderfully insightful live interview Smith conducted with two pimp-tastic peoples: rock star author Neil Gaiman and his rock star art-chick wife Amanda F***ing Palmer. You can then also download Chapter 2: Amanda playing some of her awesome and out-there theatrical indie rock, and Chapter 3: in which Neil reads some of his work (if you haven't heard Neil read, you really haven't lived.) (That's what we call hyperbole. But still, it's pretty sweet.)

You can also download an interview with Jamie to learn more about her harrowing tale. It really is terrifying some of the things this woman went through, yet amazing how strong her heart and spirit have remained. She really wants to give back; to get help for those still trapped. Because, honestly, most people who live through a nightmare such as this do not end up as blessed and as balanced as Jamie.

To check out The Wayne Foundation and to donate straight up (without downloading reading and rocking) simply click here.

See, Mom, this post wasn't ALL raunchy. Kevin Smith really is a good dude!

Until next time,


No comments: