Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: The SModcast

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No matter how prosperous, skilled or recognized we may become, we're inseparable from our contexts. Though we tend to think about this in geographical terms — young men going west and all that — it holds just as true for the chronological. There is a great podcaster by the name of Kevin Smith, born in 1980, who hit his early-mid-20s, that common personal era of do-or-die ambition in the early-mid-2000s, just when the medium emerged. Alas, he exists in an alternate universe. The Kevin Smith of our timeline was born ten years earlier, and thus entered his early-mid-20s a decade before the world had heard of podcasting. His early-mid-20s came in the early-mid-90s, and what would an ambitious cat like Smith (as he himself might put it) tap into then? Why, the era's nascent low-budget indie film boom. More specifically, he'd make Clerks, influenced as much by his cultural moment as his Jersey roots.

Though known primarily as a filmmaker, Smith nonetheless plays the podcast game on the side. But having spent many hours with SModcast [RSS] [iTunes], the project in the medium Smith began, with his producer partner Scott Mosier, in 2007, your Podthinker wonders if Smith isn't first and foremost a podcaster, spiritually speaking. You see, despite — or perhaps due to — being a lover of film, your Podthinker feels only bitter disappointment with Smith's filmography. (Nor is he the only one, a vein of response to which Smith sometimes responds nonsensically.) But every time Smith speaks so humorously and animatedly in public, it's hard not to think, "Man, if only this guy was better at making movies."

Perhaps this stands to reason, given that even Smith's most ardent cinematic defenders concede his films' zero (possibly negative) aesthetic value, summoning defenses no stronger than, "Yeah, but his characters say really funny stuff." Even the man himself has claimed to be more of a writer, not so much a director. Podcasting might thus be the One True Form for the creative mind of Kevin Smith, which has spawned three — count 'em — mega-selling DVDs containing only footage of his live talks.

Though zig-zaggy and discursive, the repartee between Smith-the-podcaster and Mosier, who usually mans the other mic, touches on hockey, filmmaking, the married life, Smith's weight and Batman universe continuity, but it mostly revolves around gay jokes. Oh, not hateful, "homophobic" gay jokes; mostly lines about how likely the hosts are to fall victim to endless permutations of forceful, anatomically varied man-on-man sex, how their heterosexual existences might suddenly, unexpectedly turn into bottomless vortices of such man-on-man sex and what situations in their everyday lives can be analogized, as it were, to such man-on-man sex. In episode 101 [MP3], Smith and Mosier spend an astonishing 54 minutes probing (ahem) the implications of hiring advanced technology to hold a threesome with one's wife and the past version of oneself, and whether or not it would count as gay to have sex with said past version of oneself.

This isn't to say that SModcast never strays from that subject matter. Certainly when other, non-Mosier co-hosts show up — usually Smith's friends and family members — the talk turns elsewhere. Take, for example, the epic two-parter [MP3 1] [MP3 2] where Smith's mom joins the party — in more senses than one. Though it's Smith's wont to enjoy da herb on-podcast, he gets the 64-year-old woman stoned as well, then proceeds to deliver rapid-fire monologues about how he hopes she'd will him any extant Super 8mm films of his parents gettin' it on.

Granted, he's got his hobbyhorses, but it simply can't be denied: whether by wit, mien or acuity of references, Smith's one funny dude. Friendly-sounding, too. Your Podthinker comes away from his podcast with a newfound respect for him. He's no longer just that jokester who makes those clunky movies with eerie submerged morals about the salvation of the skank; he's that jokester who makes those clunky movies with eerie submerged morals about the salvation of the skank and cranks out an unfailingly entertaining podcast even when it's on dick joke number 23,851. Kevin Smith may be the victim of one of the most egregious form-substance mismatches of all time, at least in his high-profile projects, but let us not weep for him; he no longer wants for an outlet.

Vital stats:
Format: Kevin Smith making dick jokes with pals, with vaguely related songs laid under the speech at all times
Duration: 25m-2h
Frequency: weekly, except in times of moviemaking
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Got a podcast to suggest for Podthoughts coverage or any other sort of question and/or comment for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Comments

1970- wait never mind

I'm listening through the archives of SModcast, and it's generally entertaining... until Kevin (or Scott, or Walt, or whoever) says something so bone-headedly stupid that I need to stop listening immediately. If it was a live show my finger would be hovering over the speed dial at all times. And yet I still listen. The only thing that has kept me from unsubscribing is instituting a rule- when I start shouting at my ipod, I have to skip to the end.

Whoa whoa whoa.

Wait a minute. Kevin Smith could not possibly have been born in 1980. That would mean he made Clerks when he was 14.

Clearly this calls your entire thesis into question.

Ah Disregard that

I read too fast, managed to skip over that line right after that. Still an excellent write up for one of my favorite podcasts. I recommend this one to all of my friends all the time.

Great write up!

This is one of my favorite podcasts ever. One quick correction though, Kevin Smith turns 40 this year so he probably was not born in 1980. :D

- Parris

Estu

I think his argument with the "not for critics" thing was that critics' idea of an enjoyable movie differs from the public's, and that he doesn't necessarily tailor to highfalutin tastes. So, I'm not sure it's fair to call that response nonsensical. I do generally enjoy Smith's Q&As and podcast (both of which I love) more than his movies, but Clerks is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think that ultimately the question of whether someone is a good filmmaker, or whether a given film is good, is almost impossible to answer; so long as a film is made in an honest way (which, granted, many films are not), there will almost always be people who love it and people who hate it, and who is to say whether the film is in some objective way good or bad?

oops

Sorry, I'm not as clever as your writing style; I guess you knew he was born in 1970.

-pk

born in 1970!

Colin---Kevin Smith was born in 1970, I believe.

thanks,

-pk