Pop Rocks: "Fly, Fatass, Fly!"

Before I'm accused of size discrimination, a little source material:

If you've spent even five second on the internets in the last two days, you're aware of the escalating hostilities between movie director/"person of size" Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines.

Smith, 39, originally purchased two tickets "as he's been known to do when traveling Southwest," the airline noted, but when he decided to fly standby on an earlier flight, only one seat remained. Although he had been seated, he was asked to leave.

The "purchased two tickets" thing is because, according to Smith, he likes an empty seat next to him on the flight. I was hoping he's make a Fletch joke ("That doesn't mean I want her sitting next to me") in one of his tweets, but admittedly, most of them have been pretty hilarious anyway:

You fucked with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!

Don't worry: wall of the plane was opened & I was airlifted out while Richard Simmons supervised.

Anybody who's familiar with Smith's online presence shouldn't be surprised by the amount of spewing on Twitter and his blog (and his podcast -- or Smodcast, as it's called). The man is legendary for his devotion in responding to his fans and almost pathological need to describe every aspect of his life in its most humiliating detail. It's to his credit, and his fans love him for it.

But after dozens of tweets and a 90-minute(!) "emergency" podcast released Sunday night, enough is enough.

To be fair, Southwest appears to have genuinely fucked up. If Smith is telling the truth about being able to latch his seatbelt and put both armrests down without trouble, then the airline is clearly in the wrong and digging the hole deeper with every successive blog post. But like every other celebrity who suddenly discovers for themselves the horrible state of the airline industry/customer service/the DMV, Smith is now on a crusade to punish the offenders. That's certainly his right, and he's fortunate indeed to have 1.5 million followers on Twitter to spread his righteous indignation. It's just too bad none of it will make a difference.

Oh, the airline will probably go out of its way to make sure his legions of fans don't make good on their probably empty threats of a boycott (Southwest is still the cheapest option available in most markets, after all) and eventually issue some sort of statement or offer itself up for sufficient humiliation, but if Smith thinks this is going to change how airlines do business (when actual legislation by Congress failed to improve things), he's been smoking more than usual.

And having listened to my first ever "smodcast" (or most of it), I'm not feeling much in the way of sympathy for the dude. He says he only wants to be treated "like every other paying customer." And he was. Like everyone else, I have my share of airplane horror stories. There was the time I was given a boarding pass for a Continental flight from San Diego to Houston, seated, then removed from the plane because they'd double-booked the seat and had nowhere else to put me. Or the time my connecting flight from Phoenix to Houston was canceled while I was in the air flying from Salt Lake City to PHX. I wrote letters and made phone calls, and received the same $100 voucher for my complaints Smith was offered by Southwest.

Maybe if I had a million Twitter followers I could've scored some drink tickets, too.

Second, it's hard to tell if Smith is serious when (in his podcast) he acts incredulous about things like airlines using one desk to service multiple gates in airports, which has been the case for over ten years around here. The Clerks director is, in general, considerably down-to-earth for a celebrity, but some of the things he rants about are making him sound increasingly like those political candidates who draw a blank on the price of a gallon of milk.

Finally, let's not forget -- as Mr. Plug himself once said -- there's no such thing as bad publicity. Especially when your new movie is opening in less than two weeks.

If nothing else, at least he'll have plenty of material for his upcoming speaking engagements (March 5 in Houston).

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar