Monday, January 01, 2007

Death of the Edge

Being sick- and being a parent- I kept my ass inside last night and watched tv and ate pizza. Even when I was single, I never really did anything on New Year's Eve. Now that I'm married with children, you know I'm not doing shit.

But so I'm sitting there watching AN EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH 2: EVENING HARDER. For those not in the know, it's a document of his 'stand up'/Q&A shows he takes to- mainly- college campuses all over the world.

I'm watching it on my still SD tv, sadly. BUT, the Sony Store called a few days ago and are saying my new Bravia is in! 1080p, here I come, bitch!!! I am very excited!

But so to the Kevin Smith DVD: I really wanted to watch it on New Year's Eve so I drove way out of my way to grab it a few days ago as the only store that had it in stock was 45 minutes away.

But that's ok. I like Kevin Smith; enough to drive around for almost an hour to take in his latest work. Not a problem at all.

That said, I don't LOVE his movies. His movies range from dull-to-really cool (for ex: loved Clerks 2, got bored with Clerks 1, thought the other flicks were all just-above-average with bits of genius sprinkled in)... but his movies aside, I've always loved his personality and stories and DVD commentary and comics and the universe he's created. I remember seeing him speak in a packed-but-tiny room at Comic-Con back in like- what was that?- 1999. He was just as engaging and funny then as he is now, playing the huge venues that you can see him selling out in the DVD. Love his blog, love his website and his comic book store in Westwood. So I like him alot, right?

In fact, I would say his career- from a promotional standpoint and how connects to the folks who purchase the stuff he works on- was one I was trying to emulate to an extent for a while over the last several years. Sometimes it worked, other times, not so much. But still, he's a hell of a salesman who really gets his audience,and I respect, admire, and aspire to that.

And he curses.


Hell, after watching a 4 hour doc of him on stage- and hearing him cuss like a sailor- MY potty mouth has kicked back in to gear (at home, on the blog, on message board posts), after a year or so of trying to tone it down just a bit.

And that is one of the things that struck me as odd about the DVD. I liked it but the magic and innocence that seemed to be there in the fist EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH was gone. This one- while entertaining- seemed more like business. I think the guy- who was 34 at the time of the recording- is just too old to be acting like he does. It comes off as a bit...wrong?

And not because I sit here as some sort of judge and go: PEOPLE OVER 30 SHOULD NOT CUSS. I don't care that he cusses. Cussing is fine. It's just that it no longer feels genuine for Kevin Smtih. THAT is what I have the problem with.

At the time of the recording he had just lost his dad (which-naturally- affected him deeply, as you can tell from the DVD and from his blog), his latest flick (Jersey Girl, which I liked enough to see twice) had bombed, and you could tell he was flailing a bit, trying to find his bearings in his personal and creative life. I can relate to that; I can releate to that MORE than I can relate to another story of him being obsessed with fucking his wife or how he made Clerks. And I wish he would have spoken more to those areas of his life. I wish he would have GIVEN more of his true self.

But that's interesting- to me anyway :)- as I look at my career and my public persona- such as it is- and realize that I've become less interesting as a public person over the last year. I see it in my interviews, I see it in the readership drop of this blog, I see it in the types of public events I'm asked to participate in (more detailed Q&A about the work VERSUS Q&A about my life and the 'wild' things I say). The edge and kick I used to see attributed to me- such as it was-is dull and dying out. Hell, you can see it in the latest incarnation of the blog. I was looking at the posts since I've launched this site and man, none of them are full of heart. It's more like I'm just giving you guys information. And how fun is that?

So the Kevin Smith movie really got me thinking. How do you deal with an established public image when you change as a person? Do you try to stay the same in your interviews even tho you are clearly a different person (what I see Smith doing). Do you just be honest with folks and even if you are no longer entertaining, keep plugging away (that'd be me)? Or do you reach into your gut and find the stuff that- while different from the past, is still REAL- and present that (what I wish Kevin Smith would do)?

And yeah, I could do that last one. I could really dig and write about the things that really affect me these days. But the thing is, I've become much happier as a REAL person over the last year. I've lost weight, I spend more time with my family, I'm reconnecting with friends, and I have fallen in love with my work again. In fact, I feel the work I am doing now- as a happy, balanced person-is BETTER than the work I've done in the past. We'll see if you agree when the new stuff starts to hit, but that's how I feel at least.

And to me, one of the fallouts of being more balanced and healthy is that I no longer feel the need to write down EVERY THOUGHT I HAVE on the blog. Did it make for more interesting reading when I did do that? I think it was more interesting when I was doing that versus just giving out information like I am now, to be sure. But I no longer feel moved to do it.

I'm not thinking of stopping blogging, I still enjoy it. It's just got me wondering if there's a middle ground. Because to me, the blog should serve the same purpose as the games: it should entertain folks. If not, then what's the point?

So this is the stuff I am thinking about.

Anyway, gotta go to bed. It's like 5am and I just got up to drink some tea (sore throat) and I ended up doing this. Thanks for listening guys.

Oh,and for the love of God, just for the record: I DO NOT think my public persona or career success is anywhere close to that of Kevin Smith. The biggest name in video games is not at that level, and I sure as hell am not even close to being ONE of the biggest names in games. I wish I were a better writer who could make that clear without needing a footnote, but I am not. So there you go. I can relate to aspects of Smith's career (far as I know about it), that is all. So please be aware of that as I know it could come off as- gasp!- arrogant otherwise. :)

See ya'll!


PlayStation Museum said...

These past couple of weeks have sucked for me. My kids were sick, then I got sick right after Christmas and now the kids are sick again. Couple that with getting no sleep and not being able to get out of the house to work out and I think I'm having a nervous breakdown as a result.

Anyhow, we're all hoping David gets well soon (if you're still sick). I have yet to watch Clerks 1 or Clerks 2, but the previews to #2 looked good. I saw Jay & Silent Bob though and that ruled. I thought I read somewhere recently that they might think about making it into a video game.

I managed to see Night at the Museum yesterday and it was pretty good. More importantly, the preview to Fantastic Four looked great. But is Silver Surfer supposed to be the villain in the movie?? Now back to updating the website.....

Anonymous said...

Really good post Dave, I could tell you meant every word you said... I mean "wrote". Happy New Year, and hope you feel better soon.

P.S. Clerks II ruled!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year everyone!

Hi David, readers, and wanders...
Am I the only Kevin Smith fan who didn't like Clerks II? I thought it had some quality material--the Lord of the Rings bit was priceless--but it seemed very nostalgic and overly sentimental to me...that said I love Chasing Amy and the 1st Clerks...

Regardless, I think that seeing a director/actor/artist/whatever evolve their public persona as their work evolves, be it good or bad or weird or whatever, is the most important and interesting thing about fandom and following celebs. Clerks 2 seemed like such a regression and a summing up at the same time...I hope Kevin Smith makes that serious horror movie he's mentioned he'd like to make...I'd like to see him try his hand at that instead of rehashin his comedy chops.

Are blogs supposed to entertain? The only blogs I read regularly are Clive Thompson's, Cory Barlog's and yours...and I'd argue that none of them are that entertaining, but they are highly informational and provide terrific insight into worlds and ideas I care to learn about and want to learn from...that keeps me very happy as a reader. I think your blog readership may be down because 1. it's a .biz address and 2. you're not working on a major game title so that fanbase and buzz that surrounds major game titles isn't there...but who cares? Don't you like us loyal readers? ;) Just kidding. I understand why you mentioned the decline in readership.

Most importantly, David, a big 'ol Thank You and Cheers to whoever got the Calling All Cars Christmas card to my apartment mailbox. It made my holidays. :)

David Jaffe said...

Eric, hey!

I love the loyal readers! And I'm not bummed readership is down so much as I am curious and analyzing the why's of it.

And- to me- if you are engaged with what I am writing, that is entertaining. But it's prob. just me, to be engaged is to be entertained.

And I get what you mean about Clerks 2...totally felt like a step back. But I was entertained by it, thought Rosario was really hot, and dug the whole Transformers-Jesus kid.

Happy New Year man!


Anonymous said...

Geez, where do I start???

I'll give it to you straight, I came here because I'm a fan of your work, but I'm not some 15 year old fanboy with a man crush. I'm an adult gamer with teen age in college.

I keep coming back because I'm interested in what you say about stuff. Yes, you have a potty mouth, but so do I, so I can't fault you for that. Expletives add emphasis, it's common speech, not bullshit hype. You know when people are just hanging out and say what they feel...well that's how you come off. It's genuine, it's real, and I respect you for it, not because of it.

Just keep being real man!

I think this is where you find issues with Kevin Smith. I'm a fan as well. IMO I think he was just trying too hard to please the masses, going back to doing things his own way was a good move. You can't try to make everyone happy. All you can do is keep being real and if people dig what you do or say it's cool, if not...Fuck'em.

A letter from a fan:

I love gaming...I started when pong was new. I'm hyper so I prefer to interact with my environment. I can't follow many TV shows so I game when I'm up or watch movies to chillout.

I would love to work in the gaming industry, but what is a older family guy living in NH, just trying to make a life for his kids, going to do? I joined the Playstation GAP so I can beta test games. I post on the forums and try to help my fellow gamers. I try to give developers a clue to what us fans want in our games, what works and what doesn't. I try to get involved to make gaming better so I can play better games with lots of people online.

Gaming is my passion and my hobby...but it isn't my life's work. That's your job. So keep blogging Dave so I can at least have some entertaining insight to what's going on behind the scenes of the gaming world. The info is good and I know it's real because that's who you are.
So just keep being real Dave.

PS I own a Brivia. It's fucking awesome!!! Your going to love it. Hook your PC up and use it as a monitor. Its pretty sweet typing this on a big screen.

Look me up on the Playstation forums, username NO FEAR!!


Anonymous said...

I know you love us and we (or at least I as I can't speak the royal we here) love ya, too. You're a terrific read, rambling or entertaining or introspective or whatever...

Yeah, I hear you, but Clerks 2 was just so meh...although Rosario was totally hot indeed and the Transformers-Jesus kid was a great just smacked of repetition too much...and man did Dante look/seem O-L-D at times!

Chris Brown said...

Just for the record, Dave, I find the direction that your blog is headed to be pretty entertaining. I've never seen any of Keving Smith's work, but I'm somewhat compelled not to. Maybe because it's not obscure anymore, or something akin to that. And besides, cussing lost all the edge it had in grade 5.

Anonymous said...

Hey man, one thing I think you’ll never be able to change is the sincerity you have with your friends and fans. And because of that you’ll never lose your edge.

And yes...Happiness/Balance = less controversy/drama. Which most people run towards...

All we can ask is that you post blogs that you enjoy writing because once you stop enjoying it how could it be entertaining?

And hell, there have been many posts such as the BOBA FETT?!? BOBA FETT?!?! WHERE!?! Post that made me smile when I started reading it. Now if that’s not full of heart then I don’t know what is.

Oh...and having a blog stay at one internet address for more than 2 months might help keep readership numbers up...I Keed! ;)

Happy New Years my friend!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the card.
I agree with Eric about blogging.
Somehow I like ClerksI better. It's just me.

Anonymous said...

You NEVER go Ass2Mouth!

Anonymous said...

Hey, My new years wasnt bad... Spent it playing some PS3 online and just spending time with my family it was great. Still mouthing over the idea of Downloading Calling All Cars... Havent done it yet, is there a notciable difference between 1080i or 1080p, i dont want to get left behind :P, and by the way I was listening to ur interview with NEOGAFFE got around to it atleast, and i have alot of games backlogged, like Reistance,COD3,FNR3,NFS carbon,NHL2k7 i jus get dragged off by the online play :P anyways enough rambling i gotta go update my blog now :P

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I've been reading your blog since 2005 and really enjoy it. I'm entertained by whatever you write and I'm always eager to see what you write about next.

Much thanks for the Calling All Cars card (I got it in the mail today). I was presently surprised that I got sent one seeing that I live in Australia. I look forward to downloading the game when the PS3 launches here.

Anonymous said...

Been reading your blog for a long time now, at least a year and a half. I actually like the "new Dave" more as it seems like you're more happy in your posts. The cutting back on cussing thing is a good idea in my book, as too much cussing just makes me bored and wishing that people could learn more vocabulary. But that's just me.. Been playing Resistance: FOM online a lot lately, saw you online last night and thought about seeing if you wanted to play something online but figured you're probably bombarded with those requests so decided against it. Good luck with the Bravia, my Sony 50" 1080p rear projection TV will be delivered today so I am looking forward to totally redoing my setup. Got a couple HDMI cables from and a couple new optical cables, can't seem to find one of them though. By the way, if you ever need cables, I suggest getting them there. HDMI cables for $7, Optical for $5 I think, and they're all extremely good quality. I have one of the $18 HDMI cables and one of the $7 cables, will see after I hook everything up if I see a difference but I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not some kid or anything, I'm 21 going on 22, and their are alot of people out their with raw talent.
Sone poeple work hard but their not recognized for their work. I think it's pretty much an outrage that the world doesn't give people the right opertunity when they need it. Sometimes in order to get what you want you have to be the one to do it yourself. But when you get to the point you want you have to deal with stress and find a way to vent out the fustration so you can move on with your life. Jody Schaeffer and George Krstic are are animators who made Downtown and Megas XLR right now their making an Megas XLR comic. And I heard Jason rubin the former Boss of Naughty Dog is working on a comic named Iron and the Maiden you probably know that already. So I guess the direction your taking isn't any different than what other people do in their lives.

Yohanna Waterman

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!

Damn flu, I caught it again when I returned from Boston and New York. Its everywhere!

I'm not a very huge Kevin Smith fan but I like his movies. Clerks II was awesome but Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was bad. He has his highs and lows.

About your blog, I mostly read it to get an insight of a game designer because I'm an aspiring designer. Anything you feel like writing is cool because this is frankly a place where you can let it all out (but not so much because the press can easily get wind of anything you say and turn it against you).

Can't wait to get a PS3 and play Calling All Cars...and whatever released arrive around March.

Take care!


Anonymous said...

Hmm something you said got me thinking, Dave. You said you're happier now than you were a year ago, and back when you just finished GoW you also stated a bunch of times that working on the game was largely a frustrating and not-so-fun affair. But it was such a brilliant game! So I'm thinking, maybe people often turn out their best work when they're stressed or somewhat unhappy, even. Think about bands, painters, and all kinds of artists. Before big successes and money, they often make better stuff than afterwards... Maybe it just takes a somewhat unhappy state of mind to create something truly great. That's just how it seems a lot of the time. Sad, but true? Love to hear thoughts on this.

David Jaffe said...


sadly, I agree...or tend to. And I think it's because what compells folks- or at least me- to create stuff is the desire to fill a void or hole in their lives. The best stuff is created out of a NEED, not because it's the JOB. But you feel compelled, like you MUST write the book or play the song,etc....but the work does not really fill that best, it provides you with the means (i.e. freedom of time and/or money) to go off and do the mental work to fill the hole...ironically, once that hole is filled, you no longer feel as passionate about the work. Then at that point, you either move on or find something else about the work that you do love (in my case, the pure CRAFT of game design still fascinates me)... yeah, I think you are on to something, at least from my experience.


Anonymous said...

Clerks II seems to be kind of like a mid life crisis that Kevin Smith never had but would have had if he had never started his film career. The man made a film that definitely made me laugh and seeing Jason Mewes ape as Buffalo Bill, "priceless"( to quote a over used credit card tagline).
Any how, Happy New Year to all and to all a good night.

Anonymous said...

NOT TRUE! You are a very big name in the gaming world, i hope you continue what you do and bring out some more good games for us ppl to play! cuz thats wat you do best! thank you David.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I read this blog because it entertains me. What's odd is that this post is talking about Kevin Smith and the way he has changed or how he acts between then and now. I just recently started reading some old Kevin Smith blogs (mainly the story of Mewes' (sp?) drug addiction) and have always thought of him as entertaining, but don't exactly like his movies (only a fan of Dogma really). But with your blog you mix up what you talk about, and I find that enthralling simply because it isn't always the same. You talk about games, family, work, movies, and more. You aren't yet boring, that's for sure.

Known Aim said...

Adversity breeds ingenuity.

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