Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Graves Point of View(Askew)

I love Kevin Smith films. In fact, my original intent for this week's blog was to share the wit and wisdom of Randal Graves, but I thought, 'How can I talk about Randal and leave out the entire rest of the View Askewniverse?' It just can't be done! And while my tiny little blog is no place to introduce you to the vastness of Kevin Smith's warped little world, it is a place to learn about some of the key characters (or at least, some of my favorite characters). We'll start with Randal and Dante.

Randal Graves

Dante Hicks

Randal Graves and Dante Hicks, the protagonists of Clerks, Clerks the Animated Series and Clerks II. These two guys are, I'm assuming, the first characters created in the View Askewniverse since Clerks is the first of Smith's films. What can I say? I love these guys. As someone who has worked retail/customer service for years, their points of view on customers is so spot on. As Randal puts it in Clerks, “This job would be great if it weren't for the fucking customers.” They present the proverbial two-sides-of-the-same-coin concept. Dante hates his job but still diligently does it and helps the customers even though he hates them while Randal hates his job and isn't afraid to say so or tell a customer who's being an asshole that they're being an asshole. Dante tries to be socially acceptable, Randal just does or says what he pleases no matter how taboo or inappropriate it may be, even to the point of using terminology that is, in truth, racially insulting while not realizing it and trying denying that it is. You can call Randal ignorant and socially maladjusted if you want, but he is, in his own perverse way, refreshing to watch because he doesn't really care about so called social norms or politically correct speech and behavior. Dante, on the other hand, could be said to have the metaphorical stick-up-his-ass and while trying to be an adult, never really takes the risks that would propel him into the kind of life or career that he has the intelligence for (reminds me of me).

Jay (right) and Silent Bob

Jay and Silent Bob, the comic relief recurring characters in the View Askewniverse. Drug dealers (sort of). Dumb-asses. Slackers. These are the only two characters in the View Askew canon of films that appear in every episode (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Clerks II). What can I say about these two? I'm not sure what Kevin Smith's purpose was with these two guys, but damn they're funny. Jay talks entirely to much and generally has ignorant things to say, while Silent Bob on the other hand is, well, silent (hence the name) except for when something profound needs to be said and then he turns out to be the most intelligent person in the whole flick (interesting that Smith cast himself in the role). They're typically background characters who only show up when needed, but in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back they're the main protagonists. That film basically has no plot. It serves as almost a parody of Smith's earlier works (gotta love a guy who can poke fun at his own shit).

To be honest, that's pretty much it for favorite characters. Dante and Randal because I can see a bit of myself in both of them – Dante, the wants to be an adult and responsible one and Randal, the doesn't give a shit and refuses to grow up and still plays video games, etc. one. Jay and Silent Bob are just plain funny in a twisted sort of way (perhaps Kevin was trying to show what can happen if you kill too many brain cells by smoking pot?). As far as favorite films, I'd naturally have to go with Clerks (which I've referenced in my blog, “Random Rantings of a Retail Sales Clerk”) After that, I'd have to say Dogma is a definite favorite for the very poignant, though thought provoking, criticisms of the Catholic Church and religion in general (it was actually the second View Askew movie I had seen the first time I watched it). But that really could be a blog in and of itself (uh oh, could that be next week's topic? Tune it next week fans – same bat blog, same bat web address).

Basically, if you've never seen a View Askew flick, do it. They're funny as hell and usually have some great social commentary as well. Kevin has a way of making you think while you laugh (usually anyway – Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back being the possible exception). I do, however, recommend watching them in order if possible. You can get away with sneaking Dogma in at any point but Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back will make no sense at all if you haven't first seen Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy and don't watch Clerks II until you've seen Strike Back because then Jay and Bob's scenes won't make as much sense if you do, and Jay's t-shirt in Clerks II wont make sense unless you've seen Dogma. You know what? Just watch them in order and it'll all make more sense – Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and finally Clerks II in that order and all will be right with the Universe – or should I say, Askewniverse?

~ Carlisle

Next week: well, you know me... I can't decide what I'm writing from week to week lately so you'll just have to be surprised :-P

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