Monday, August 11, 2008

The mind of a self-deprecating man

"Watching Spaced is kinda like watching a Kevin Smith film if Kevin Smith had any real talent."

--Kevin Smith

Seeing this quote on the back of the Region 1 box set of Spaced reminded me of something I've heard plenty from Kevin (and have experienced in my own ways in my life): self-deprecation. I don't exactly know what compels people to be so down on themselves, but I have some observations.

There's something that naysayers want (and is something that we all want): to be heard. It's why we speak up, right? We want to be acknowledged, yes? Well, acknowledging that gripe, even if you disagree with the gripe, at your own expense can be a way of saying you're not oblivious to your limits. Limits can be seen as flaws, but they can also be boundaries that you're most comfortable with.

A phrase Kevin has often used when explaining his self-deprecation is to "steal the thunder" from his worst critics. Whether or not that makes his worst critics think harder about something worse to say, I don't know. I do know this: people will still complain about something. Complaining is easy, and on the Internet, it's very easy to say mean things anonymously and not be reprimanded for them.

In a roundabout way, taking the piss out of yourself is a way to automatically gain sympathy from others. But I've often found it causes people to say you're way too hard on yourself. In my eyes, I'd rather talk down about my stuff than to think too highly of it. It's like I think highly of my work, but I try not to let it overshadow everything else I do, hence the occasional piss-taking. I'd rather joke about how my next book will be my own Mallrats rather than say it will be my own Days of Heaven.

What's even more strange is that when you've been so self-deprecating for so long, it's like you look forward to harsh words. You fool yourself into thinking that negative stuff is a more real way of being accepted. Well, too many people think general honesty means being brutal and harsh instead of being complimentary and tactful. It can become your own cage and bum you out.

All this said, there are reasons why a lot of people stay on their creative path, naysayers be damned. Dealing with the negative is a part of the process while so many other parts are positive and fulfilling. It's enough to say the good outways the bad, so you stick with what makes you happy. Isn't that what we all in life?

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