One of the biggest benefits, for me personally at least, of our new television component to the site is that I suddenly find myself a lot more hooked in to what's going on around me. There's a little more to my world than just movies now, and that's a good thing. I once read an article from Roger Ebert where he admitted that he never watches television, since he's too busy watching movies. So presumably, when the new Simpsons movie comes out he'll have absolutely no idea what he's watching. I don't want to be that guy. If you don't have a well rounded idea of what's going on in pop culture (and you're not an institution like Roger Ebert), then you've probably got no business reviewing movies.

The drawback to my newfound awareness of what's going on with the small screen, is that I'm aware of things that piss me off. Things like this: According to his website Kevin Smith is guest hosting on "Ebert & Roeper" while Roger is out sick.

Now the problem with this isn't that Kevin will do a lousy job. Quite the contrary. The guy is a master communicator. When he talks, people listen. He'll probably be brilliant. The problem here is that by doing it, he's making himself a total hypocrite.

Kevin Smith reads what people write about him. All of it. Even what we write about him here. That's no revelation. But here's something I learned about him recently: If you're a film critic and you want to screen one of his movies, you'd better start puckering up in advance.

A few weeks ago a Clerks II screening was held here in Dallas. I'm not bragging, that's just the way this game works. Eager to cover Kevin's latest, I RSVP'd for the screening to our local public relations rep here in Dallas, and then received a confirmation that I was on their "let him in" list. I thought everything was fine, until the day of the screening when I was contacted by the same rep and told that unfortunately, I was being uninvited from said Clerks II screening.

In four years of attending press screenings I've never had this happen. Cinema Blend isn't AICN, but we are in Dallas, which makes us sort of a little fish in a little pond. Usually that means we have no trouble getting invited to most of the press stuff that happens in town, even with the studio bias against the internet that beats so many of us down. Somewhat confused, I asked for some sort of explanation, and was told that the screening was full, and they wouldn't have room for me.

Except the screening wasn't full, according to reports I got from other people who attended. Instead, I was being barred from the screening because it was me. What had I done to earn the ire of the folks running Clerks II? In my preview comments on the film I said this: "After chickening out and buggering off from more challenging projects that might have stretched and challenged him as a filmmaker, Kevin Smith returns to the movie that made him famous in the first place by sequelizing it. I can't imagine a bigger give-up." Of course I also said this: "love the guy, he's got amazing talent." Somehow though, I think the first quote was the one that caused the problem.

A little asking around confirmed that Smith does indeed have a reputation for barring critics who say things he doesn't like from screening his film. And I'll confirm it again. It looks like he barred me. Still, I wasn't going to mention it. When I finally saw Clerks II I loved it. I still think it's a step back for his career, but Kevin had only deprived himself of good PR by refusing to let me see it, and I wasn't going to play the whiny, over-privileged critic spasming because he didn't get the red carpet rolled out for him.

Kevin's appearance on "Ebert & Roeper" changes things. Now he's stepping away from being a filmmaker, and becoming a critic… a profession he clearly has regard for. Sorry Kevin, you're out of line. If you're going to do the job, at least have some respect for it. The guy clearly can't take dissenting voices, and if he can't take the heat, then what the hell is he doing in the kitchen? Kevin doesn't want critics reviewing his film, but he's perfectly willing to play critic and critique the films of others. Something is seriously wrong here.

I like to think of Kevin Smith as one of us. He seems like an affable guy, the sort of dude you'd like to spend an afternoon hanging out with. But I'd also like to think he has integrity, and now I'm starting to doubt it.
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