Essay Question: Should Kevin Smith be more open to criticism?

OFCS members answer the question, suggested by member A.J. Hakari:

“In the past week or so on Twitter, Kevin Smith has taken a lot of critics to task for not ‘getting’ Cop Out, which has incurred some pretty poor reviews. I know I’d like to know what my fellow OFCSers think about the issue, whether he should be more open to criticism or at least handle it with more maturity than he’s been displaying on his Twitter account.”

Answers after the jump.

Felix Vasquez, Cinema Crazed:

Kevin Smith has evolved in to an interesting creature lately. The once confident indie hero is now a bitter resentful man whose has been in the news only for being kicked off an airplane for being too heavy and for bad reviews for a really bad movie. As revealed in an interview, he’s definitely changed in to someone who seems to hate that his career isn’t progressing very much and has blamed his contemporaries like Judd Apatow claiming he ripped off his storytelling style. Smith needs to buck up and realize that criticism of any kind should be accepted and mocking critics for disliking his movie is just sophomoric and speaks poorly of his progress as an experienced filmmaker. I admire that he wants to maintain his king of cool persona for his fans, but mocking critics on Twitter for giving your movie bad reviews is just poor etiquette. Enough whining and moaning and just get back to making your films and accept that they may not translate to everyone. Get over yourself and move on.

Laura Clifford,

It’s simple — if critics aren’t “getting” Cop Out, it is because of poor execution.

Kevin LaForest, Montreal Film Journal:

I personally enjoy how Kevin Smith is one of the very few filmmakers who admits that he reads his reviews (most pretend never to read them), and since he’s always been vocal about everything (through his website, blog, podcast and now Twitter), it’s no surprise that he’d also react openly about critics’ unfair dismissal of Cop Out. I happen to have liked the movie for what it is (i.e. a loving homage to 1980s buddy cop action comedies), but that’s another story!

James Plath,

Aw, leave the poor guy alone. First he’s thrown off an airplane, and now THIS? Personally, I don’t see the problem. Critics want the freedom to blast away at a filmmaker with all sorts of creative (and sometimes cruel and unnecessary) flair, and yet they don’t have the skin thick enough to accept Kevin Smith telling them that they don’t “get” it? Come on! We’re entitled to our opinions, but readers and filmmakers are just as entitled to their opinions of our reviews. George Lucas once remarked, “I gave up reading reviews a long time ago. It’s become a medium that is more like gossip.” I have to admit that I’ve read plenty of reviews that struck me as more performance art written by poseurs than an honest appraisal of a film. Writing with flair is one thing, but when critics put entertainment first and analysis second, people like Lucas are going to walk away with a negative impression of the whole lot of us.

Kevin Carr, 7(M) Pictures:

First of all, I respect the hell out of Kevin Smith for his indelible impact on pop culture. But that doesn’t make him bulletproof from bad reviews, and it doesn’t excuse some of his childish behavior over the past few weeks, both for his reaction to the Southwest Airline debacle and responding to critics who “didn’t get” his film Cop Out.

Telling people they “didn’t get” a film suggests that those who didn’t like it just didn’t see its brilliance. Incidentally, this was basically what Smith said of critics who didn’t like Jersey Girl. The difference is that you had to listen to the commentary of that film to hear that. Now, with Twitter as a venue of immediate reaction, Smith can tweet any thoughts — intelligent or not — to more than 1.6 million people. When you have a thin skin like Smith happens to have, you risk making yourself look childish with knee-jerk reactions.

Ultimately, a filmmaker needs to take criticism like a man. Don’t lash out at critics if they don’t like your work, and don’t coddle them if they do. It is just an opinion after all. It can be excused if you’re fresh out of your teenage years and haven’t learned to deal with the public, but Smith is pushing 40. It’s time for him to grow up a bit and dare I say take a page out of Michael Bay’s book by ignoring the critics and letting his movies succeed or fail from an audience perspective.

Tyler Foster, DVD Talk:

I haven’t been watching Smith’s Twitter account like a hawk or anything, but I saw him praising those who “got it”, not bashing those who didn’t, at least not by name. There were some general pot shots at critics in general, but I assumed he was kidding (and not necessarily wrong about the barrage of misinformation on the web; the supposed claim that he was “too fat to fly” — which he wasn’t, by the way — is a perfect example). Ebert gave him a bad review that several fans brought to Smith’s attention, and Smith was quick to say that Roger had praised some of his other movies, and he didn’t mind, even though the article incorrectly attributed the script to Smith. I also think Smith attracts more trolls thanks to his long-standing net presence. I saw that one person registered a second Twitter account just to insult the guy. In any case, praising and re-Tweeting his few positive notices is fine by me. Rex Reed’s blatant, condescending dismissal of another online critic in his review was far more disappointing than anything Smith said, kidding or not.

Nell Minow, Movie Mom:

I wouldn’t mind Kevin Smith pouring his creative energy into tweets, even to bash critics, if they showed any of the wit and heart of his best movies. Whatever form of media he chooses, he needs to get some focus and energy into his work or he risks being known forever as the guy who used to be worth following.

Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic:

My take is that filmmakers shouldn’t care much about what critics say about them, and vice versa. Smith keeps saying the bad reviews don’t bother him, but then he keeps tweeting about them. Either you’re butt-hurt over the reviews or they don’t bother you — which is it, Kev?

The other thing is that you can “get” a film and still not LIKE it. Yes, Kev, it’s your nod to ’80s comedies. Is it funny? Many critics thought not. That’s their right. You can’t argue with a laugh, and you can’t argue with the lack of one.

Anders Wotzke, Cut Print Review:

As with all artists, Kevin Smith has every right to defend his work. But if he wants to be taken seriously in doing so, he needs to thoughtfully expand on the spiteful 140 character twittercisms he has made in the past. He has a blog, perhaps he should articulate a reasoned response there?

David Cornelius,

Hmm. You’d think Kevin Smith would be an old pro at dealing with bad reviews by now.

A.J. Hakari, Passport Cinema:

It stands to reason that after so long in the film business, Kevin Smith should be able to take criticism with more stride than he’s displayed on his Twitter page. He’s more than free to disagree with his critics, and I’d be perfectly fine if he said, “Sorry you didn’t like Cop Out, but I stand by the film and had a blast making it.” But with terms like “poison pens” and “eruditism” used in regards to Cop Out‘s biggest detractors, Smith doesn’t seem to be displaying much maturity in response to this negative feedback. He’s much too smart and talented a filmmaker to plug his ears whenever a cross word is uttered about one of his productions.

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