Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Cannonball Read #3: Shootin' The Sh*t With Kevin Smith - Kevin Smith
I'm always a little nervous when someone tries to take something that was successful in one medium and try to recreate that success in another. It's like figuring that if people enjoy eating hamburgers, than it would make total sense that they would enjoy staring at pictures of hamburgers for hours on end. I can sort of see the rather tenuous relationship between the two, but ultimately it's not going to work because you're taking the reason people like it out of the equation. This problem is what keeps Shootin' The Sh*t With Kevin Smith from being a great book, instead of just a good book.
Allow me to make up for that by saying that I absolutely fucking love Kevin Smith. I've watched his entire body of work with awe (and possibly a bit of a chubby), and the man is an absolutely gifted filmmaker with a knack for dialogue-driven comedy. Shootin' The Sh*t, while not an actual memoir in the strictest sense, is basically a collection of the best moments from his SModcast, a podcast he does with friend and business partner Scott Mosier.
The good news: It's hysterically funny. If you've never heard the SModcast before, you're missing out. Unlike most radio shows, where the two hosts put up a false front of cheerful banter to mask both their murderous hatred for their on-air co-star and the fact that they can no longer feel joy in their heart, Smith and Mosier actually like each other. The SModcast works because it's just two completely genuine guys who are insanely funny hanging out together and talking about whatever's on their mind.
This is where the cross-media problem comes into play: Aurally, the SModcast is like a conversation you'd have with your best friend, only much funnier. But when you put it into print, it loses the spontaneity. Everything seems too deliberately planned out, the relaxed vibe being replaced with overtly-rigid walls of impenetrable text.
It's a bit sad, really, because calling The SModcast hilarious really doesn't do it justice. It's just so much more than that. Many of the stories and discussions between Smith and Mosier on the show end up feeling like they're overstaying their welcome, which makes me think that what made them great just got lost in translation. There's no way to capture impulsiveness in text, which makes everything feel like one long debate, albeit ones that involve fucking in front of Helen Keller and murderous Make-A-Wish Kids.
So as you can see, I'm a little torn here: Do I sellout, sweep Shootin The Sh*t's faults under the rug and call it a flawless masterpiece to appease my inner fanboy, or do I kowtow to my inherently bitchy nature, call the book out for being uneven, and risk never being cast in the gay-centric sequel to Zack and Miri? I'll take the middle road on this one. Shootin The Sh*t With Kevin Smith is one of the few books that actually made me laugh out loud in public, and I managed to find it for less than $20, so for all its fault, it's still worth buying and reading and loving(although you could of course just log on to iTunes and get the whole thing for free, your decision really.) I'll give it a slightly-hesitant thumbs-up, but let this be a lesson about trying to mix two media that obviously don't go together. Now Kevin, about Zack and Miri 2...