I asked Clerks 2 director-writer-costar Kevin Smith for a comment about the still-slacking-in-their-30s syndrome described in a piece I wrote earlier today called “Party On.”
I started things off a bit flippantly by asking if guys wanking their lives away in their 30s is an indication of the social fabric coming apart, and here’s his reply: “Naah — blame Bill Murray, the original slacker hero. We all grew up watching Stripes. It had an impact.
“I think some filmmakers like me (who aren’t overly creative…or overly talented, for that matter) are afforded an extended adolescence by virtue of what we do for a living. I mean, we basically ‘make pretend’ and get paid for it. So maybe we like to portray that lifestyle cinematically because, at this point, it’s all we know?
George Lucas, at a young age, painted a canvas with Wookies and Death Stars; some of us can only paint a corner of a canvas with characters who like to talk about Wookies and Death Stars.
“I’ve been writing about these types of characters for twelve years now, so it’s not a trend for me as much as a mantra. For me, I think it has a lot to do with my father, who spent his entire adult life working for the U.S. Postal service, doing the 11 pm to 7 am shift, canceling stamps. Soul-killing work, that, but his generation didn’t have the luxury of picking a dream job or following whimsies; you got married and you got a job, period.
“My generation was the first to be very vocal (not the first to actually live this way, mind you, but to be VOCAL on the subject) about a willingness to ‘play the game’, so to speak, but only according to our own rules. Sort of a ‘Yeah, I’ll get a job, but since it’ll be doing what I want, it’ll never feel like a job.’
“And while, in theory, that’s a good m.o. (and in some cases, like mine, somewhat achievable), it’s not very practical.”