Posted by: Mark Nielsen | February 16, 2010

Kevin Smith: Fanboy, Fatboy, Poster Boy for Bad Public Relations

My twin, separated from me at birth

Silent Bob just will not keep silent about being mistreated. And more power to him, I say.

I just saw a cool, funny CNN Headline News story about a really bad Southwest Airlines flight for filmmaker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). He’s a large man — okay, let’s just say it: he’s fat. He even admits it himself on his blog  and in his Smodcast, the podcast he puts up at his website. He unapologetically uses the word “fat” to describe himself. “I’m not going to sue you for saying I’m fat!” he told the stewardess… um, I mean flight attendant. Apparently he was booted from a Southwest flight for taking up too much space, but now that he went public, Southwest is doing damage control. A little worried he’ll go on Larry King and affect their bottom line, they are. A little worried he’ll make a variation of the Michael Moore-style, Funny Angry Fat Man film.

First of all, Smith travels a whole lot, to comic book conventions, for film pre-production, and for general travel to keep up his New Jersey to Hollywood bi-coastal existence. (BTW, Jersey Girl, Smith’s dramedy starring his buddy Ben Affleck and George Carlin, was a good film that unfortunately got caught up in all the bad Affleck/Lopez backlash… before the current iteration of Bennifer Garnerfleck. Go rent it — instead of that stupid Daredevil piece of crap where Garner and Affleck met…) 

Smith says he usually does buy two seats for his large frame as Southwest suggests, but in this case he was flying standby and couldn’t get two seats on a sold-out plane. He also says he was able to put on his seatbelt and lower his tray table, that he checked with his seat neighbors before sitting down, and otherwise went out of his way to do the right thing.

I believe him. Not because I’m a zombie-like fan who thinks he walks on water. Not because he behaved much better than that spoiled little abusive “Christian” Victoria Osteen toward his flight attendant. Just because Smith’s shown himself to be an honest guy over the years– including about himself and how he screwed up his marriage, for example.

Smith’s current movie, Cop Out with Tracey Morgan and Bruce Willis, looks like a winner: a dirtier, funnier update of the ridiculous actor-playing-at-cop genre in which we’ve already seen bad entries by Michael J. Fox and Harrison Ford . (Josh Hartnett? Really?) But Smith didn’t write this derivative script. He writes much more original stuff. This one he merely directed.

Speaking as a fellow dorky fat man (taller, not quite as heavy, not as talented, but definitely more dorky), I can attest to Kevin’s right to sound off on this and spank Southwest a bit. He’s a hero to fanboy/fatboys like me. His right to free speech, especially in his private blogging and Twittering, is also a mainstay of American culture. Plus I’ve blogged once or twice myself about insensitive employees and corporations, once even getting a $200 “settlement” check by outing an unjustly denied insurance claim against a trucking company.

And Kev’s smart enough to know that old adage about there being “no such thing as bad publicity” in Hollywood. If we’re talking about him, then he’s doing his job – whether or not he comes off looking like a whiny ol’ fatty. Which he ain’t. He wasn’t “too fat to fly” according to Southwest’s official policy. He was just a poor schlub caught up in some flight attendant’s bad day. And who among us hasn’t suffered lousy service at the hands of someone who’s having a bad day.

So you go, Silent Bob. Don’t let Southwest Airlines cop out and blame this on you, or your fellow passengers. We all have a job to do, and the stew– er, flight attendant –screwed the pooch on this one.


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