Imagine if you will, a scenario where director Kevin Smith releases his indie horror film, Red State, in March of 2011. Inspired by the infamous Westboro Baptist Church and the cultish followers of Fred Phelps, it causes quite a stir. One day as Smith walks the streets of Santa Monica, California after one of his popular podcasts an enraged Christian slits his throat and leaves a note behind, warning Lady Gaga that her advocacy of gay rights has endangered her life.
On the other side of the globe, a director by the name of Theodore Van Gogh releases a documentary titled Submission. Written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it pulls no punches in its criticism of Islam. Although irate, the Muslim community in the Netherlands essentially shrugs its shoulders, issuing a few press statements and holding a few sparsely-attended boycotts. A Dutch-Moroccan Muslim by the name of Mohammed Bouyeri appears on The Hofstad Network, a Fox News of sorts, where he has a spirited debate with a Dutch version of Bill O’Reilly. No one dies.
If you experienced such a reality it would be time to worry, as it would be apparent that you crossed over into The Twilight Zone.
The reality is this: Theo Van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyer. An ominous note was left on the stabbed, bullet riddled, and bloody body for Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The Hofstad Network is composed of a group of individuals who would like to behead Hollywood’s inspiration for Social Network, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali requires security guards close at hand. In the United States, however, Christians respond to “art” like Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ with, essentially, a collective grumble.
And that is why Kevin Smith made Red State instead of, say, Islamic State.
Hollywood artists were great at patting themselves on the back for speaking “truth to power” when BushHitler (one word) was in the White House, but the dirty little secret is that their courage generally only rears its head when the power they’re confronting shows absolutely no interest in sending them off to gulags (i.e., North Korea), stoning them (e.g., Iran), or assassinating them in the vein of Theo Van Gogh. The reason why Kevin Smith is able—by his own admission—to make a movie that is “so fucking vicious and nasty and mean and stark…” is because he lives in the United States of America. The country’s Christian heritage paved the way for the kind of rights Kevin takes for granted. Those same rights he thinks are at risk because of inconsequential nincompoops like Fred Phelps and his followers—so much so that he used his own limited time and resources to make a horror movie about them.
The most puzzling aspect of Kevin Smith’s War on Ostracized Christian Outliers is that he comes from New Jersey. He was a hop, skip, and a jump on 9/11 (a Silent Bob jump, nonetheless) from Ground Zero to see the smoldering rubble, twisted metal, and shattered lives because of the machinations of Islamic terrorists. After comparing that national tragedy with the battle scars left behind by the Catholic outrage over his 1999 movie Dogma (note: there weren’t any), one wonders why he’d return to the Christian-bashing well. Fear and cowardice have already been mentioned. The other — desperation.
Kevin Smith needs a hit. Badly. Even his stronger offerings in recent years (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Clerks II), while ultimately making the studio money, haven’t been breakout successes. Consider this: Zach and Miri was beaten out its first week by High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
The easiest way for a Hollywood liberal to immediately get fawning coverage is to douse their work in condescension towards the conservative worldview; it’s an accelerant for positive reviews by liberal leaning critics. However, what Hollywood types don’t get is that accelerants are often used to commit arson, and a movie like Red State will most likely leave a big black hole in Kevin’s career—what’s left of it—where conservative fans once stood.
While the knee jerk reaction might be to boycott the kind of tired, predictable, cliched Christian-bashing Kevin Smith offers with Red State, that kind of attention is exactly what he wants. Instead, I wish conservatives would familiarize themselves with the movie and flock to blogs in droves to ask why Kevin Smith keeps playing Silent Bob when it comes to radical Islam.