Whoosh! Issue 44 - May 2000

REFLECTIONS:
WHY I ADMIRE KEVIN SMITH

By Erica Li
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
2664 words



Author's Note: Most of the references used in this essay can be found at Lessa's page. Go to the Kevin Smith page. Thanks to Lessa for the site.




Introduction (01-03)
Work (04-06)
Family (07-08)
Someone We Might Identify With (19-13)
His Attitude and Image (14-15)
My Fellow Fans (16)
Conclusion (17)
Notes
Bibliography
Biography



Reflections: Why I Admire Kevin Smith




Introduction

The earring shows my sensitive side. Especially if you pull on it.

Kevin Smith in a t-shirt.
[01] All the people who know me well know that I like a certain actor named Kevin Smith. What people usually do not realize is that there are many good, solid reasons to why I admire this actor. Because of this, I have decided to write an essay to reflect on my personal reasons for following the Kiwi phenomenon known as Kevin Smith.

[02] Mr. Smith is not just Ares or any other character he has portrayed. He is a versatile performer, a devoted father and husband, as well as simply a regular guy who faces some of the very same problems we do. I do not pretend that I know the actor personally. I have seen him in the flesh only once at the 1999 San Francisco Hercules and Xena Creation convention. Unlike quite a few of the lucky fans out there who have had the chance to meet him in person, I have never seen him in real life outside of Creation Entertainment's sphere of influence.

[03] Most of the things I know about Mr. Smith I have learned from television, interviews, articles, fan club newsletters, mailing lists, and the Web. Needless to say, my understanding of the actor is only as good as that of any fan. Fortunately, what I have read about him has provided me with much more than just a superficial, tabloid-esque view of him. I am certainly not unaware of his physical attributes and overall desirability. However, I would never respect him as much as I do if he could not (to quote him) "walk and walk and talk the talk". Although I do not idolize Mr. Smith, I do admire him very much as a person as well as an artist. While I aspire to the part of him that is a celebrity, I also identify with the part of him that is just a regular guy. I must say that simply knowing about someone like him is a blessing.


Work

[04] I respect Mr. Smith for being serious about his work. I suppose I have no need to emphasize that he is a very talented artist. He is well known for his excellent expressions when he portrays various characters. He is a singer, a comedian, and he likes to surprise people by doing things he does not normally do. His work ethic is commendable. He has received compliments from many of his colleagues, such as:

"He's the true professional...knows his lines inside and out, doesn't even pick up the script." [Note 01]
   --Renee O'Connor

"All I can say is that I have enjoyed working with [Kevin] very much...He is not only good-natured, but very professional." [Note 02].
   --Bruce Campbell

"Kevin has that very rare quality of being incredibly masculine and sexy but is also able to show vulnerability and intelligence. And he's someone who is very focused and prepared to do the work." [Note 03]
   --Christine Parker

[05] These comments from colleagues give us an idea as to what Mr. Smith is like at work. He is dedicated, amiable, and has obviously gained the respect from the people with whom he works.

[06] I also admire the actor for diversifying what he does, and for always looking for new challenges in his career. Not many performers work with film, television, theatre, and a band. Not many actors have credits as diverse as red-blooded young men like Stanley Kowalski, classic tragic heroes like Othello, mythological swashbucklers like Ares, and figures like undercover cop John Lawless. When asked about typecasting and stereotyping, he says "I just do stuff to avoid it...It's up to me to make sure [typecasting] doesn't happen." [Note 04] Mr. Smith teaches that it is up to each individual to take responsibility in finding new challenges. It is important to diversify, to keep options open, to take risks, and to avoid putting limits on ourselves. Mr. Smith is not content to stay in the comfort zone. He is quite a risk-taker. He even joked once that entering his credit card number during online shopping is fun. He is not content to only do the things he is used to doing. "Once you get into that comfort zone, all sorts of alarm bells should be sounding," [Note 05] he says. "As a performer I have always prided myself [in] recognizing the proper time for me to leave in spite of the fun I was having." [Note 06] Mr. Smith's positive work ethic helps to explain why he is such a successful performer.


Family

One very lucky Sears photographer

Kevin Smith in a family.
[07] Mr. Smith does not just have a good work ethic. One of the primary reasons that many of us admire him is that he appreciates his family. He emphasizes the importance of separating professional life from personal life in almost every one of his interviews.

[08] It is difficult for most people to find that balance between professional and private life. Even for me as a junior in high school, it is difficult to find the balance between the academic, spiritual and social aspects of life. It must be much harder for an actor who works away from home all the time to find that balance, but as Eli says, "Love is the most powerful force on earth." "We've been together forever...Twenty years and three kids later, we're still together," says Mr. Smith of wife Suzanne. [Note 07] "I try, if I can, to fit my work around my family." [Note 08] Clearly, there is a lot of support and love within his family, and he is wise to cherish such a blessing. Knowing about Mr. Smith's appreciation of the precious commodity known as the family makes me respect him all the more.


Someone With Whom We Might Identify

[09] I do not just follow the celebrity in Kevin Smith. I like the fact that he is a regular guy who inevitably has limitations.

[10] There are a number of excellent interviews of Kevin in some New Zealand magazines. In "Kevin's Top Town - - Timaru" from an issue of New Zealand Woman's Weekly, Kevin talks about his history, childhood, and hometown. There is a lot of beautiful local color in this essay. His days as a schoolboy seem typical. "We were bred for adventure," [Note 09] he says. Just imagine him riding his horse out of town with a bunch of other boys! However, teenhood can also be very tough. "I was never the golden child," [Note 10] Kevin says in another article entitled "World Cup Jinx and Star of 'Channeling Baby'". "Things didn't come easily to me at school."

[11] I do not know what kind of difficulties Kevin could have had when he was in school, but the truth is: school is never easy. There are all kinds of expectations from parents and peers, especially grade-wise, but expectations of one self is the hardest thing to deal with. There are stresses and pressures, most of which are psychological. I would say I did rather well in high school the past five semesters, but that does not mean I do not struggle. I was a little surprised when I read the part where Kevin wrote "I'd never had a future before" [Note 11] when referring to his early twenties, but I suppose this kind of feeling is not unusual among young people. For many of us, there is a fear of the future and the unknown, and it is difficult to have faith in one's own abilities at an early age. I really do not know where I am heading in life. Being in my late teens, I can somewhat relate to what Kevin was feeling in his early twenties. Kevin, with his effort and the support of his family (as well as some good luck), has apparently been able to overcome the difficult times in his past and become what he is today. I hope that, like him, I will find my calling someday.

[12] Perhaps we can even empathize a little with the present-day Kevin. In 1995, when the All Blacks did not win the World Cup, the actor, according to himself, "smashed a camera". [Note 12] That is definitely not a healthful way to handle disappointment, but who can say that he or she has never overreacted in a mixture of sadness and rage? We just have to know our weaknesses and try to restrain ourselves. I usually feel extremely dejected at my own loss after a considerable amount of effort, but Kevin was more concerned about his favorite team, his country's honor. He says that his own honor at the TV Guide Awards matters less to him. "I'm Spock in The Wrath of Khan," he claims, "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few." [Note 13] Team spirit and patriotism are things I yet have to learn from Kevin and real-life experience.

[13] I also identify with Kevin's sense of humor and overall positive attitude towards life. He is so witty. When I am not brought down by tests, I am a humorous person. I learned a lot of jokes from him.


Attitude And Image

I got all these muscles from lifting this little guy here

Kevin Smith in a family way.
[14] Kevin has accomplished quite a lot. He won the 1995 NZ TV Best Supporting Actor award, and was a finalist for Best Actor for his work in Lawless in the 1999 NZ TV Awards. He has gained international recognition as Ares. Despite all this, all the fans who have gone to conventions and have met Kevin in person comment on his down- to-earth attitude and amiability. He receives compliments from straight women, lesbians, and men alike. All kinds of people comment on his charm, his beautiful smile. Lucy Lawless, who has known Kevin for more than ten years now, commented in an ET interview:" [Kevin] has got the least expanded ego." [Note 14]

[15] Even though Kevin does not have the swaggering attitude of some stars, it is difficult to prevent stereotyping in showbiz. Kevin is often thought of by the public as a sex symbol, but he does not think of himself that way and does not want the public to think of him that way. "Although part of me enjoys the boys, cars, guns, and total testosterone of a series like Lawless, I want people to know there is more to me than that," he says [Note 15]. Actress Danielle Cormack, however, insists that Mr. Smith may indeed be one of the sexiest men: "Kevin is sexy because he's bloody funny and he's incredibly intelligent and he's committed to his family, to his work, to his colleagues." [Note 16] Renee O'Connor seems to agree with Ms. Cormack's interpretation of attractiveness: "[Kevin is] an attractive man with a personality, yet so humble and so modest, that it's hard to believe he's so formidable-looking and strong. And he has an incredible sense of humor." [Note 17] I believe that Kevin redefines masculinity for our society. He's a living proof that there's more to sexiness than just a beautiful physique.


My Fellow Fans

[16] I have Kevin to thank for bringing me together with a group of wonderful people-- his supporters, the "Smithsonians". Thanks to mutual support within the fandom, many of us are able to catch up with Kevin's recent projects that do not air in the United States. I appreciate the support fans have shown each other and the fun that has resulted from this kind of support.


Conclusion

I do bat mitzvahs too!

Kevin Smiths
[17] A guy on National Enquirer TV (I saw it by channel-surfing; I do not watch it regularly! [Editors comment: Yeah, sure!]) said that society used to choose to admire the celebrities who were "famous and noble", but now choose those who are "infamous and ignoble." He is mistaken when he makes a general statement like that. There are still famous and noble celebrities out there, and Kevin Smith surely is one of them. Some actors and actresses become role models because of the characters they play, but Mr. Smith is truly a role model for BOTH sexes despite the fact that he sometimes plays bad guys. He gives us a lot of things to think about by doing the job he does and living the life he lives. For those of us who are fans, we should be proud to call ourselves his supporters. For those who do not yet know much about Mr. Smith, I hope you will learn more about him and find out that learning about him is a genuinely good experience.


Notes

Note 01:
Maureen Mctigue, "Heroic Sacrifice", Starlog, October 1999 Issue #268
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Note 02:
Bruce Campbell, "Potpourri", Nullus Saltare Hic, Volume 1 Issue 4, p. 8.
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Note 03:
Pavement, October/November 1999.
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Note 04:
"Kevin Answers Your Questions", Nullus Saltare Hic, Volume 2, Issue 3, p. 18
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Note 05:
Anna Dunbar, "Meeting Kevin", The Press, November 19, 1999
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Note 06:
"Message from Kevin", Nullus Saltare Hic, Volume 2, Issue 4, p 4.
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Note 07:
Anna Dunbar, "Meeting Kevin", The Press, November 19, 1999
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Note 08:
"Kevin's Family Heartache", an issue of New Idea, 1999
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Note 09:
"Kevin's Top Town--Timaru", New Zealand Woman's Weekly, January 12, 1998
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Note 10:
Philip Matthews, "World Cup Jinx and Star of 'Channeling Baby'", NZ Listener, November 20, 1999
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Note 11:
Kevin Smith, "A Kick in the Head Made Me a Star", New Idea, January 8, 2000
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Note 12:
Philip Matthews, "World Cup Jinx and Star of 'Channeling Baby'", NZ Listener, November 20, 1999
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Note 13:
"World Cup Jinx and Star of 'Channeling Baby'", NZ Listener, November 20, 1999
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Note 14:
May 8, 1998 Entertainment Tonight
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Note 15:
Anna Dunbar, "Meeting Kevin", The Press, Friday, November 19, 1999.
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Note 16:
A 2000 issue of NZ Listener
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Note 17:
Maureen Mctigue, "Heroic Sacrifice", Starlog, October 1999 Issue #268
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Bibliography

Campbell, Bruce, "Potpourri", Nullus Saltare Hic, Volume 1 Issue 4, p. 8.

Dunbar, Anna. "Meeting Kevin", The Press, November 19, 1999

"Kevin Answers Your Questions", Nullus Saltare Hic, Volume 2, Issue 3, p. 18

"Kevin's Family Heartache", an issue of New Idea, 1999

"Kevin's Top Town--Timaru", New Zealand Woman's Weekly, January 12, 1998

Matthews, Philip ."World Cup Jinx and Star of 'Channeling Baby'", NZ Listener, November 20, 1999

McTigue, Maureen. "Heroic Sacrifice", Starlog, October 1999 Issue #268

"Message from Kevin", Nullus Saltare Hic, Volume 2, Issue 4, p 4.

Pavement October/November 1999.

Smith, Kevin. "A Kick in the Head Made Me a Star", New Idea, January 8, 2000



Biography

Erica Li Erica Li
I am a 17 year-old Lowell High School junior in San Francisco, California. Currently I am working hard towards college. I was born in Shanghai, China in 1983 and immigrated to America in 1993. Although English is my second language, it is my best language, for I am more fluent in English than Chinese. I am interested in literature and drama, but consider majoring in the science field.

I am an old HTLJ/XWP watcher. I started out as an avid Hercules fan, but find myself more attracted to the complexity of such characters as Ares on XWP. I like analyzing characters and writing essays during my free time.


Favorite episode: TEN LITTLE WARLORDS and TIES THAT BIND
Favorite line: Ares to Xena : "Action and power draw you like a moth to a flame. It burns inside you. I burn inside you. You can feel me there, like a fever." THE RECKONING
First episode seen: THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (H09/109)
Least favorite episode: pretty much the entire fourth season

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