Kevin Smith ‘Never Understood’ the Cult Fandom of ‘Clerks,’ Compares Millennial Obsession to ‘The Office’

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It’s taken almost 30 years for Kevin Smith to fully grasp the “Clerks” fandom.

Ahead of the third film “Clerks IIIlaunching in theaters for a two-night-only special event, Smith admitted he “never understood” why “Clerks” resonated with audiences since debuting in 1994. The film spurred sequel “Clerks 2” in 2006; the third feature was in development since before 2013.

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“I’ll tell you, for years, I never understood why people liked ‘Clerks’ so much,” Smith admitted to Forbes. “It’s in black and white, it’s got nobody famous in it and stuff, looks like it was made by children, and it was.”

He continued, “I used to just think, well, we were part of the ’90s, so sentimentally and nostalgically will always be wrapped up in some people’s hearts. But I’m 30 years almost in on the job now, and I think I completely understand why ‘Clerks’ not only connected then, but why people still talk about it today, even though it’s an old ass black and white movie that was made in the ’90s.”

Even the initial success of “Clerks” took Smith by surprise.

“I used to think, ‘This movie will never play outside of New Jersey. If you’re not from Monmouth County, New Jersey, how could you understand this?'” Smith explained. “When it went to Sundance, I was like, ‘Wow, not only did it play outside New Jersey, but it played at a film festival, but it’ll never play outside the United States. This is a very American film.’ And then it played outside the United States. Turns out, that movie can be appreciated by anybody who’s ever had a shitty job, and that’s literally everybody in the world. So for that reason it’s like one of the most identifiable flicks in the world.”

The “Kilroy Was Here” director deadpanned, “I don’t know if a billionaire wakes up, watches ‘Clerks,’ and goes, ‘Been there,’ unless it was one of those billionaires that like started in retail or some shit.”

“Clerks” - Credit: Everett
“Clerks” - Credit: Everett

Everett

And the day-in-the-life plot of “Clerks” is reminiscent of another modern fan favorite, “The Office.”

“[‘Clerks’ is about a] job where you’ll do anything but the job itself while you’re on the clock, which is all Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) do. They just sit around and do anything except wait on customers,” Smith said, adding his daughter Harley Quinn Smith is a huge “Office” binger.

“The same way that my kid obsesses over ‘The Office’ and watches it on repeat,” Smith said. “It’s a show about people that go to work, and sooner or later, everybody does. There’s only a rarefied few in this country that don’t know what it’s like to have to get up and go to a place you don’t want to go to but have to because that’s going to pay the bills. So I think that’s part of the charm of the movie, why it’s lasted so long.”

Or, as Smith summed up, “Clerks” was meant to be seen and related to.

“You don’t make these flicks going like, ‘I hope nobody sees them.’ You hope that the world embraces them,” Smith concluded. “I’m the guy who’s like people still talk about ‘Clerks’ because I still keep the conversation going nearly 30 years later. I’m always like, ‘Remember Clerks? Holy crap. Clerks was wonderful.'”

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