L.A. Now, our sister blog, has the latest twist on the awkward dust-up involving Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines, here’s an excerpt:
Director Kevin Smith has sparked a debate about airline policies toward obese passengers after he says he was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight from Oakland to Burbank this weekend for being too heavy.
The “Clerks” director sent out a series of Twitter messages detailing the events and expressing outrage that he was told by airline employees to leave the plane even though he insisted that he fit in his seat.
“I know I’m fat, but was [the airline] really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?” he wrote. “I broke no regulation, offered no ‘safety risk.’ “
Smith said the incident took place Saturday and that he was eventually able to make it to L.A. on another Southwest flight.
Southwest is one of many airlines that require overweight customers to purchase two seats if they cannot comfortably fit into one seat. The airline determines this in part based on a passenger’s ability to lower both armrests while sitting on the plane.
Smith insisted he could lower both armrests.
Southwest issued an apology to Smith on its Twitter feed. “We are sincerely sorry for your travel experience on Southwest Airlines,” the airline added in a statement.
There’s more to that post, which you can find right here. Smith has a nimble intellect and savage wit, so it’s been compelling to hear him deal with his weight issues and social pressures in modern America, a nation that is fixated on skinniness and, paradoxically, faced with an obesity epidemic.
In 2008, Chris Lee of the Los Angeles Times wrote a memorable piece on Smith. Here’s an excerpt:
“I’m going away for a while,” Smith said, puffing a menthol cigarette on the patio of his Hollywood Hills home, “to concentrate on myself. To save my life.”
At a time when Smith has been heavily promoting “Zack and Miri” — perhaps the most commercially viable movie in his 15-year career as a multi-hyphenate actor-writer-director of crude comedies and art-house bromances — the issue of his weight has remained front of mind. The director has been complaining about being fat in radio interviews and fretting about it on his blog much to the chagrin of Weinstein Co. publicists for the film, who have openly wished the director would “talk about something else.” Like, for instance, how closely in tone and casting the movie resembles something conjured up by comedy rainmaker Judd Apatow?
Adding insult to injury, Smith’s girth contributed to an embarrassing incident last week. “I broke a toilet. That’s how heavy I am,” said Smith. “I can’t take all the credit — that was an old toilet and a very waterlogged wall — but my size took that toilet down. I cannot cognitively reframe it and be like, ‘It wasn’t me — it was the toilet.’ It was definitely me. And that’s a wake-up call!”
Sweating steadily but not quite profusely, enveloped in a long wool overcoat (in implicit homage to Silent Bob, his screen alter ego in several of his films) despite the 90 degree heat, the New Jersey-born auteur seemed both exhausted and keyed up. He’s immensely proud of the film, which earned a number of glowing reviews when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
Smith said a lot more — one other quote: “Hollywood is a hard town to be fat in!” — and you can read more from that piece right here.
— Geoff Boucher
PHOTO: Top two photos of Kevin Smith in 2008 (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times). Jay and Silent Bob (Dimension Films) Smith and Seth Rogen at Scream Awards (Getty Images)