This blog post has been adapted somewhat from a Twitter rant I had last night after a screening of Kevin Smith’s Red State had let out at the Sundance Film Festival.

Director Kevin Smith

I follow a lot of movie bloggers on Twitter. Several of them are at Sundance. Nearly all of them were taking the piss out of Smith after the screening of Red State.

It wasn’t necessarily the film alone that ruffled their feathers. But, rather, Smith’s “auctioning” of the film’s distribution rights that snapped up for $20 which was promptly announced as “SOLD!” by the movie’s producer, Jonathan Gordon. Smith intends to forgo traditional major studio distribution and will market the film himself on a multi-city tour.

Was it a publicity stunt? Sure. But I’m not sure I understand why movie bloggers are up in arms about this.

I remember the days when Smith was the hottest thing since sliced bread. Journalists were more than eager to prop him up when he was the guy who maxed out his credit cards to make a movie no one had heard about.

Not that I expect journalists to be in his corner at all times. Certainly the quality of his movies has declined a little bit and he’s taken a very vocal anti-media stance. No wonder he’s unpopular in blogging circles. After being burned one too many times, he doesn’t give media the same access as before.

But watching a series of tweets from movie bloggers roll in last night, you could see how the frustration with Smith has turned into outright animosity for (what I think are) largely arbitrary reasons.

Smith has taken the distribution of Red State into his own hands. He brought it to Sundance not to sell it to a studio, but to kick off his own marketing campaign. Folks, this is as indie as indie gets. Yet, there is no praise for this decision?

I’m reminded of music acts like Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails – musicians who have walked away from major record labels and who are producing albums for fans that they release online. These guys are celebrated as marketing mavericks. Meanwhile, Smith is still a pariah.

I can’t help but think this is somewhat deliberate on the part of the movie blogging community. They’re looking for a way to punish Smith for making the decision to communicate only with his fans. Either that, or they’re participating in that time-honored media tradition of championing the unknown artist, validating his work to the masses and then tearing him down in order to look ahead of the curve.

What’s your take on the Kevin Smith hate? Is it warranted? Did Smith bring this on himself? What about his decision to distribute Red State on his own? A bold move or career suicide? Leave your comments below.

In the meantime, if you’d like to watch Smiths’ Q&A from Red State at Sundance, I’ve included that below. I’m eager to read your feedback!