[BLOG] What Clerks Means To This Fatman
Late last night, my world came crashing down. In the middle of watching the most redundant WWE pay-per-view in years (Elimination Chamber), I found myself scouring the endless waves of twitter updates for something refreshing. Something, anything to distract me from the profound disappointment I was reeling from. Only to be confronted with Kevin Smith’s (at that moment) most recent tweet:
After the first show this evening, I had a massive heart attack. The Doctor who saved my life told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (aka “the Widow-Maker”). If I hadn’t canceled show 2 to go to the hospital, I would’ve died tonight. But for now, I’m still above ground! pic.twitter.com/M5gSnW9E5h
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) February 26, 2018
Smith, whom we all know as the founder and creator of the View Askew universe, the writer and director of Clerks, Chasing Amy, Mallrats, the list goes on. Not to mention numerous comic books and endearing host to a whole slew of podcasts that we all know and love. His life mantra “why not?” inspires and resonates with fans of his all across the world. Not to mention his unapologetic fanaticism in the world of comics and culture in a time where just a little of fantasy and nature isn’t the worst we could hope for.
Its not often I get touched by the passing of celebrities. In fact, I think the last one I shed a year for was Leonard Nimoy. Then again, shedding a year isn’t the most correct statement when your celebrating a long and storied career. That said, I’m sure as hell that Kev is far from done on this plane. The report of Kevin Smith’s heart attack rocked me hard and I feel like I needed to say something. After seeing the most recent episode of Comic Book Men I was sure that I really needed to pour out something I’d been holding back. If only for the purpose of a therapeutic exercise.
I’m just like every other thirty something year old who got through high school smoking weed, listening to music my parents would’ve punished me for and watched Mallrats. Or watched Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back for the weed, dick and fart jokes. It wasn’t really until my early twenties that I came to truly appreciate the opus that Clerks was and still is. Just like every other Jay and Silent Bob fan, I can profess to having seen Clerks a million times. I can recite the glowing Silent Bob monologue at the end of each film.
What I can never thank Kevin Smith enough for was how Clerks taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin. In my early twenties I went through a few bouts of anxiety where I felt I could never talk to anyone about. I’ve always been the bury the emotions type and play the asshole card in as humorous a way I can muster. The old axiom, hiding in plain sight, comes to mind. This is where Clerks came in. Clerks made me feel comfortable enough to go out and form relationships and friendships. To move past the anxiety and bouts of depression. There is nothing more comforting than knowing there are plenty of Randall’s or assholes out there just like me. The friendship between Kevin Smith and Brian Johnson (realised on screen as Dante and Randall) gave me to be thankful for than anyone could ever know. I was still hiding in plain sight but not hiding nearly as much as I had been before. That even an asshole like me could find his place in the world.
I consider myself a lifelong Kevin Smith fan. I catch up on Tell Em Steve-Dave as much as I do Fatman On Batman. This is where it comes down to his longevity for me. Just plain not being a dick. Just being another guy who asks the question, “why not?”
A couple of years back, the Fatman On Batman podcast had an episode where Kevin Smith interviewed a longtime childhood hero of mine : Kevin Conroy. One on one. The specifics aren’t important. At the end of the episode, Kevin Smith admitted the following to Conroy (don’t quote me):
“You made me comfortable about the possibility of my own death.”
Clerks made me comfortable about being in my own skin and gathering up the courage to get on with my own life. This isn’t a tribute and this sure isn’t a farewell. It’s a thank you.