Friday, April 13, 2007
Happy Friday, ya'll.
As I procrastinate from writing a short summary of my novel, I stumbled over a trailer for Jamie Kennedy's new documentary called "Heckler". Click here for the trailer.
At first the documentary seems like a relatively enjoyable compilation of comedians taking down hecklers; you know, those assholes who shout things at people on-stage in an attempt to co-opt some of the attention the performer's getting. They're a fairly indefensible group. In one clip, Jamie Kennedy comes back at one heckler who's just told him he ought to die, with, "You see, the difference between me and you, is that I came here in a limousine. You came here behind twelve huskies." Not really that funny as I type it on the screen, but the crowd seemed to like it. Anyway.
Eventually the trailer for the documentary moves from hecklers, to critics of all stripes. Anyone who's got something not nice to say. Kennedy calls in bloggers and critics into his home for on-camera interviews and reads them back the things they've written and they have discussions, apparently. True, during these discussions he endures even more insults from these critics, this time live and in-person, but he also gets a chance to insult them back, and usually with more cutting precision. He asks one blogger to restate the name of his website. Kennedy responds, "Shouldn't that be frustrated filmmaker dot com?" To another: "Do you have any friends? And your computer doesn't count." Rob Zombie bitterly describes what must be his impression of most bloggers as people who "live at home with mom, never had a girlfriend, all writing in to say that Spielberg sucks."
I guess my question is: who is this movie supposed to appeal to? People who'll see anything and then like everything they see? "Heckler" looks like something Jamie Kennedy put together because he was angry, in part, over people who've heckled him during his stand-up shows, but mostly over how bad the critics, legit and amateur both, raked him over the coals for movies like "Malibu's Most Wanted" and "The Mask II". I know it must sucks to be in the public eye and have to deal with meanness from anonymous people writing on-line, but to ask the great unwashed to pay to see a withering indictment of themselves is just a little confusing. I know this is just the trailer. Perhaps the film is less a criticism of critics and more a denunciation of the incivility with which many on-line self-publishing folks use to criticize those in the spotlight, the folks putting out movies and TV shows and books and music and what have you. If so, then yeah. I still won't see it, but I won't condemn it.
But the trailer doesn't give that impression. It seems more like a screed from comedians and filmmakers telling us if we don't have anything nice to say about what they do, we shouldn't say anything at all. To some extent, isn't unfair criticism part of being an artist/performer in the public eye? It's a great job, but even great jobs are bound to have a downside or two, right? I can sympathize that famous folks don't like dealing with all those hustling paparazzi in their faces, or maybe even that they don't like people calling into Gawker with star-sightings, but now we can't weigh in with critical opinions of their creative products, the very products they expect us to consume?
I don't know. On the face of it, it seems like a vanity project where Kennedy and other maligned rich creatives get a rare chance to vent about the audiences who don't have the smarts to love them or their work. I think Jamie Kennedy's a funny, talented guy. His next movie, "Kickin' It Old School" looks like it could be pretty funny. But I think he'd be better served concentrating on the next thing rather than looking back in anger at all the vitriol that, if one Googles themselves enough (I'm talking to you, Charles McClennahan), is pretty easy to find on the internet.
Then again, maybe I got the wrong impression from this trailer. Take a look and see what you think Kennedy's trying to do here.
Have a good weekend.