For my final project I decided to look into writer/director, podcast king Kevin Smith. Hailing from New Jersey, Smith first came to prominence in the year 1994 with the release of his first film, Clerks. Clerks quickly became an indie film smash and a cult classic in its own right due to its pop culture obsessed dialogue and relatable characters. After Clerks, Smith would have a setback with his critical and commercial flop Mallrats. Though that film would go on to receive a cult status of its own and gain popularity through its VHS and DVD releases. Following that failure, Kevin would go onto write and direct one of his strongest features with Chasing Amy. Chasing Amy was one of the first movies to really deal with LGBT issues in a mainstream way, though it was still an independent film, and won critical acclaim and was a modest box office success. Dogma, Smith’s next film, would go on to be another critical hit and a minor box office hit, but was mired in controversy from the Catholic Church due to the movies subject matter of two angels finding who had been banished from Heaven finding a loophole that would allow them to return. The movie dealt with what it meant to have faith and practice religion in the modern world, but what drew the most controversy was its portrayal of God as a woman played by Alanis Morrissette. After Dogma, Kevin Smith made Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which made heavy use of the growing popularity of the internet and its message board communities as its title characters went on a road trip to stop the making of a film based on comic book characters created in their likeness after reading a slew of hateful message board posts directed at them. This was one of the first movies to really show the troll community of the internet in all of its hate filled glory. After this Smith’s film career would stall out a bit with the critical and commercial failure Jersey Girl, a modest hit with a sequel to Clerk’s, and his most recent films Red State, Tusk, and Yoga Hossers, which were all a mixed bag at best.
Outside of his film career, Smith has had great success on the internet. Since the early days on the web, Kevin Smith has utilized the medium to interact with his fan base and promote his movies by setting up websites and message boards. He is also a pioneer in the field of podcasting through his company Smodcast, which was one of the earliest podcast networks in the game.
Social Media Presence Overview
Kevin Smith has a very large social media presence and overall digital footprint. He makes use of all of the social platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and also has a very active YouTube channel. As mentioned above, he is also a prominent podcaster through his SmodCast network and host shows such as Smodcast, which he hosts with his friend and ex producing partner Scott Mosier, Hollywood Babble-On with Ralph Garman, Fatman on Batman, which began as an interview show with various people who worked on the Batman character in all mediums but has now turned into a pop culture chat show with the addition of cohost Marc Bernardin, as well as a few other podcasts.
Kevin’s Facebook page currently has 2,757,073 likes and is followed by 2,641,542 people. On his page, Kevin mainly posts live videos where he directly interacts with his audience. Some of these posts are motivational speeches while others are promotional for whatever project he is currently working on as well as various Q&A’s. He also posts a lot of pictures, many of which are exclusive to his Facebook and can’t be found on his other platforms. Outside of his videos, Smith rarely interacts with his followers in the comment sections, but he does on occasion. He seems to be very active on Facebook as a whole and it seems like he is in direct control of the page as opposed to it being handled by his management or an outside PR firm.
Smith’s Twitter page is also incredibly active. The page is followed by 3.23 million users and Kevin has tweeted 33.1 thousand times to date. Smith is incredibly active on this page, much like his Facebook, and is much more apt to reply to a tweet as opposed to the comments section on his Facebook page. There are not nearly as many videos posted on his Twitter, but he does post a lot of pictures, many of which again are exclusive to this page and are not found on his other platforms. He is also found of the retweet as he is constantly retweeting posts made by his various famous friends and also tweets that he finds relevant and/or funny. This platform is also obviously controlled by the man himself and not by some outside party.
The Instagram page that Smith uses seems to be his least used social media platform. It has the lowest follower count, coming in at only 1 million, and he has only made 1,399 posts to date. The pictures found on this page are again mainly exclusive to this page, but this platform has the most overlap with his other two pages. Smith does not seem to interact with anyone at all on his Instagram page and I would imagine he is in control of the page, but it does not have the personal touch that his other social media pages have.
For YouTube, Kevin Smith has both his own dedicated channel as well as his seesmod channel which is devoted to his various podcasts. Kevin’s personal channel currently has 280,760 subscribers. On this channel, Kev posts a lot of movie reviews and also posts the webshow version of his podcast Fatman on Batman. On the show Fatman on Batman, Kev interacts with his fanbase through having them ask questions via Twitter and a live comment stream while the show is going on, so this is also a place where it is easy to interact with the man personally. Other videos featured on this page are a show titled ScanBC which features Scott Mosier, Wake and Bake with Kevin Smith, and classic live videos of his Hollywood Babble-on podcast. This channel also seems to be handled by Smith himself along with Marc Bernardin as they are the most frequent posters of content. The seesmod channel currently has 151,730 subscribers and is mainly made up of podcast videos of the various podcasts on the SmodCast network, both the ones hosted by Kevin and the ones not hosted by Kevin. Unlike his personal YouTube channel, I do not think that Kevin is the one actively in control of the seesmod channel. He may contribute to some of it, but much of the content comes from other individuals, so it would seem that this channel is handled by someone in the Smodcast company.
Overall, as you can see, Smith has an incredibly large digital footprint. Through the personal use of his various social media accounts, his YouTube page, and also his various podcasts, you can tell that Smith cares very much about his use of the internet. Since the early days of the internet itself, Smith has been carefully creating his digital footprint and making sure that his voice and his brand reach as many people as humanly possible. The fact that the majority of it is personally run by the man himself also shows that he cares about the way his brand is seen and his voice is heard. He does not go through middlemen and PR agencies to promote himself or his various projects. Also, you can tell that he has a deep care for his fan base in the way that he interacts with them through is Facebook videos, countless tweets, and YouTube interactions. Kevin has mastered the internet, and considering he has been doing this for so long, it would make sense that he has it all figured out.
Commendations and Recommendations
I think Smith has totally mastered the use of the internet and social media as a whole. As I have stated so many times so far, the man has been doing this since the days of mid 90’s chat rooms and message boards. He seems very fond of being able to put his voice out there, and since the man is never at a loss for words, this is the perfect place for him to let it all out. There is not much I could say that he needs to do better. If anything, he should maybe say a little less as he can be known to put his foot in his mouth and stir up a little bit of controversy. Recently he ignited a twitter beef between Ben Affleck and Amber Heard over something that Affleck said while they were making Chasing Amy together. After this went down, he immediately took to Facebook to apologize to both Affleck, whose career he essentially started, and Heard in a very heartfelt and teary eyed video. Other than this, Smith has it all mastered. I hope he continues to create great online content in the coming years. To be honest, many aspect of the internet may not be what they are without the guy.