Kevin Smith deals with missed flights, broken toilets and heavy issues

Feb. 16, 2010 | 12:15 a.m.

Kevin Smith


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.

Kevin SMith October 2008 photo by Jay L Clendenin

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 Clerks_ii_photo_by_darren_michael_2fretting 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

Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen at Spike TV Scream 2008 Awards

Kevin Smith and his broken toilet seat

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Kevin Smith wants Seth Rogen in tights

Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen bond with fans at Comic-Con 2008

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)


12 Responses to Kevin Smith deals with missed flights, broken toilets and heavy issues

  1. chela says:

    Skiznit, next time bone up on your reading comprehension before commenting.

  2. TenajaMom says:

    Kevin, get over it already! The world doesn't owe you anything buddy, and you're lucky you got a refund and an apology. It's time to accept responsibility for your personal actions in both your weight and this situation.

  3. a nation that is fixated on skinniness and, paradoxically, faced with an obesity epidemic.

  4. Maybe this will be a wakeup call for him. It is not healtyh to be overweight and as a nation we need to address this problem. And I am not someone who is bashing overweight people, because I myself am struggling with being overweight and know how difficult it is to lose weight. I understand the National Association for Fat Acceptance's stance, as mentioned in a previous post about calling a boycott-but I disagree. Those of us who are overweight need to get our rear ends in gear.

  5. skiznit says:

    So, we are to take away from this incident that the world must adapt to us and not the opposite? People's sense of entitlement and the 'you HAVE to accept me as I am' mentality has to have limits! Being different in any sense by definition means that you're just not going to fit in every situation. The guidelines SW Air had set are there for a reason. Saftey and comfort. Why is that so hard to understand?
    Instead of taking away from this that 'Hey, maybe being morbidly obese might be bad for me' or maybe even considering that a wake-up call to reel in your health habits…. no, instead let's get mad at the world for your situation.
    It's much easier to blame than to take ownership of a problem eh?

  6. LOL says:

    Funny incident with a funny guy!..You need to lose weight dude..

  7. Jesse M says:

    This Smithian saga isn't terribly interesting… Smith was pissed, understandably, and he reacted in the best way he knew how. It's about weight, but it's also about collective action as a way for consumers to take back power. This is especially important in the case of air travel, because airlines are notoriously unreliable and impossible to bargain with.
    More interesting are the comments you read below the fold on these articles, including Smith's original rant… the other blog responses… and even this article, a few days after the fact. It's uncharacteristically vicious, even for the Internet. Do we, as a nation/demographic/etc, really hate overweight people so much? This comment is typical of the level of discourse: "They should travel by ox cart or something. I mean really. Do they need to inflict their smelly fatness on everyone else?" Who even ARE these commentors?
    Come on. Normal, loving people have weight issues from time to time, whether in Hollywood or in our own homes. People need to stop screaming profundity whenever these issues enter the public discourse. The ranting, raving, angry primate reactions have been appalling.

  8. Jordan says:

    Well said, Jesse M! It's easy to bash fat people while hidden behind the anonymity of a message board. But how many of these fat haters have at least one overweight or obese friend or relative? I'm willing to bet 100%!!

  9. Tony says:

    Ah come on…he could have paid for two seats, right? Maybe a ploy to resurrect a career in regurgitation mode? Find something that his fan base can react against and rile them into movie going. But did he get big in order to pull this off? Was it worth it? Counting that he can't see his wanker anymore! Yup, he's a walking comedy bit. Hauling that mass of poundage around is a whole routine in his world…
    And they should have made that money back per lb and he'd be rollin' in dem dollars.
    And he's afraid of the feds, eh? He always could move to another country he finds friendlier…with wide body only planes. Maybe Putin could get the world's largest cargo plane to carry his ass.

  10. michael says:

    This is not about bashing fat people. This is about refusing to accommodate them and refusing to allow them to inconvenience everyone else because they choose to eat too much food. Some of the comments online have been harsh, but probably because just as Smith was embarrassed and angry, a lot of people are sick to death of the obese seeking to force the rest of us and businesses to make way for their lousy habits. No denying it, while there is no need to publicly humiliate anyone, people are not as sympathetic to the obese as they are to the disabled or minorities.
    Coach is not comfortable for anyone. Business models that break even don't allow for a lot of comfort in coach given the public's insistence on flying for less than the actual cost of the flight. But if you are within reason your body can fit albeit uncomfortably within the confines of the seat. If you can't, you should either buy a second seat or find another way of getting to your destination.

  11. GG says:

    No fun to sit next to someone who takes up a part of my personal space. The seats are already too small and crowded.

  12. Winski says:

    WHY can't fatman get it thru his head – WE DON'T CARE WHAT HE THINKS!
    He's FAT. GET OVER IT.

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