Books Life

Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith

Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good

Before I start my first ever book review, I should maybe shed a little light on who Kevin Smith is. Just in case you don’t know. First and foremost, Kevin Smith is a 2 name guy. And by that, I mean every time you refer to him, you have to call him ‘Kevin Smith’. You can’t just refer to him as ‘Kevin’ or ‘Smith’ because nobody will know who you are talking about. He is a 2 name guy. Besides being a 2 name guy, he is also a writer, director, actor, podcaster and comedian. I’m sure he does other things, but that is enough to fill in the gaps.

The first thing I noticed when I picked up this book was the fact that Kevin Smith’s glasses were crooked on his face. I doubt many other people would have noticed this, but it is my curse. It stems from two things. The first is a compulsive need I have for everything to be absolutely perfect. The second would be the 7 years I spent working for at an optometrists clinic.

I also don’t like how “a fat, lazy slob who did good” sounds. Those who know me, know that I would prefer “a fat, lazy slob who did well“. I understand that would change the meaning of his sentence, but I can’t change the way I feel. We could argue all day on the semantics and when to use “good” as opposed to “well”. We could do that, but we won’t. We will never get anywhere. I think I just hate the way the word “good” sounds. Possibly because I have heard it used incorrectly so many times. Anyway, my problem, not yours.

If I were a better writer, I’d be able to come up with a clever parallel or analogy in regards to the crooked glasses and the content of the book. I’d also be able to solve my internal monologue about semantics. But, I’m not and I can’t.

That would lead you (and me) to believe that my opening three paragraphs are entirely pointless and if I were a decent writer/editor, I’d remove them all together. That’s when Tough Sh*t comes in. Kevin Smith has taught me that if I enjoy doing something, then it isn’t pointless at all. There is your parallel. Mic drop.

In a crude and graphic first chapter, Kevin Smith reminds us all how lucky we are to simply be alive. To quote the man himself, “there are no losers in life because everyone of us who is born is a huge fucking winner.” I don’t know if I necessarily agree with all of that, I’ve certainly met my fair share of losers, but it is hard to argue with the positive message. The odds of simply being born are astronomically stacked against you. If you are here, then life is simply your victory lap, yours to celebrate after winning the biggest contest of your life. The contest being the race against billions of other sperms.

It certainly puts things into perspective and definitely makes me feel less ashamed of the countless hours spent playing video games. Or the countless amount of fast food I’ve consumed. Although, I wasn’t always ashamed of doing what I loved.

About 12 years ago, I had a girlfriend and some friends who constantly criticised my hobbies. “Video games are a waste of time, you shouldn’t enjoy them” or “pizza is bad for you, how can you enjoy it?” and so on, so on. They questioned everything I did and everything I was, so much that I started questioning it myself.

I didn’t change my behaviours, but I stopped enjoying the things I loved. There was always a cloud of guilt hanging over me. A feeling that I should be doing something more productive. They always suggested walking, like taking a walk is any less of a time kill than playing PlayStation. I’m not criticising walking and I certainly understand the health benefits of it. I am a regular walker myself. What I’m asking is how is walking any less of a waste of time than watching TV? The reality is, we are all just wasting time until we die.

I’m not trying to be a pessimist, quite the opposite. Your life is yours to do with what you will. As long as you aren’t being an asshole to others, do what you will. I’d be lying if I said that the cloud of guilt has left my life. It still rears its ugly head from time to time, when I’m trying to kick back and play some video games. It is getting weaker though. I’m getting stronger in who I am. Kevin Smith’s book helped reinforce a lot of the ideas I had on life.

It wasn’t just a complete celebration of laziness though. Kevin Smith isn’t encouraging you to eat 20 pounds of bacon in one sitting and spend your life on the couch. Neither am I, not unless the mood really takes you. I don’t think Kevin Smith was completely discouraging you from it either. He is challenging you to find out what you enjoy, or what you are passionate about. That’s the first step. The second, is to find a way to make money off of it.

In one of the earlier parts of the book, he mentions how he kept telling his sister that he wanted to be a filmmaker. She said to him (and I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t find the exact quote) “you are a filmmaker, you just haven’t made any films yet”. I don’t know about Kevin Smith, but that blew my mind. It literally changed the way I think about things and for that one sentence alone, the book is worth it. No longer am I an aspiring writer. I am a writer. I just haven’t been published yet. I’ve figured out what I love, now I just need to figure out the money.

I must be close to a thousand words, I haven’t really reviewed the book yet. All I’ve done is talk about how it made me feel and how it inspired me. Whilst not a technical review, I think it does speak volumes about how inspiring this book was. From a technical standpoint, this was also a well written and excellent book. My girlfriend was amazed how quickly I read the whole thing.

Kevin Smith just has a way with words and it really spoke to a geek like me. He made so many funny movie references and his command of language was exceptional. There were plenty of geeky movies reference throughout and I’m proud to say that I got them all. I’ll try not to ramble on too much longer, but I want to talk about some parts that stood out to me.

Chapter 12 : The shit that happened on the plane. What a powerful chapter. I spent a lot of my life away from the internet. Honestly, it’s probably only the last 5 years or so that I’ve had a constant connection. So, I had never heard of the events that happened in that chapter. The way in which Kevin Smith could tell such a horrible story of his life was impressive. I’ve always said that the very best musicians/lyricists can make me laugh and cry, often within the same few lines. It is amongst the highest compliments I give. Kevin Smith did exactly that in this chapter. It was devastatingly sad and broke my heart. I’ve also been discriminated against, so I could relate. The way he told the story though was hysterical and I couldn’t help but laugh. It was an incredibly powerful chapter and it was very well written.

I’d also like to talk about a segment from chapter 14, my wife is the shit. He describes in great detail their first sexual encounter. I was in hysterics with his non-stop movie references. My fiancĂ© asked why I was laughing, so I read some of the quotes to her. She didn’t get them, but she isn’t a geek. I had such a laugh though. It’s impressive that Kevin Smith was willing to share such intimate details. What is even more impressive is that his wife let him.

Finally, before I move to my closing thoughts (what am I, Jerry Springer?) I want to talk about 2 things. Really quick, I promise. The first is Jersey Girl. Kevin Smith mentioned how that film was poorly received. Why? I love Jersey Girl. Ben Affleck gave an incredible performance in that movie. My daughter had only just been born around the time I first saw that film and it really resonated with me. I think it was an incredibly powerful and touching film. I’m really surprised it wasn’t reviewed better.

The second is just an interesting fact that I would like to share. I want to talk about his decision to advertise Red State independently. At the time of Red State, I wasn’t really super familiar with Kevin Smith. I’m sure I would have heard his name, but I hadn’t seen any of his movies. Somehow, word of Red State reached me. In a different country, in a tiny little city in the middle of nowhere. Without the internet. Without a friend who was obsessed with Kevin Smith. Somehow, despite all odds, I heard of that movie and it was my first Kevin Smith movie.

To summarise, this a great book. Even if you aren’t a Kevin Smith fan or are completely unaware of him all together, I think you will find something in this book. It is touching, it is funny and most importantly of all, it is inspiring. It genuinely makes you feel good about your life to date and your days to come. I can highly recommend it.

Finally, Kevin Smith, if you happen to read this, thanks. Thanks for reminding me of what I can accomplish and what I have accomplished. Maybe one day we can watch some hockey together.

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