I was going to string together a choice quote from Hunter S. Thompson and a general review of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which I watched for the first time last night. It was a great movie, but, ultimately, it was just an on-screen knot of Tarantino’s stylistic reputation and persona. It was a bit much at times — not so much for the graphic scenes of violence and the brutal institutionalization of postbellum racism, but for the choices that Tarantino made. He was treading the same territory that he refined long ago. Nothing new here.
Also, I couldn’t find the Thompson quote.
But the gist here is that fame, even on a granular scale, can insulate a person. The term we use is “pigeonholed,” though it’s not like pigeons asked to get caught up in this racket.
On a long timeline, Thompson and Tarantino ended up writing (or ended up having written) for a mass audience. Thompson exploded through the ascendant counterculture to hit the college speaking circuit and Letterman. Tarantino films are notable blockbusters, even if they don’t reach Avengers box office numbers. They are cinematic events.
I think that’s a dangerous endpoint for a creative career. And I cherish Thompson and Tarantino’s work; it’s hard to see their later stuff lapse into a near parody of their finer years.
And while you could argue that there’s no more self-indulgent or even parodic director alive right now than Kevin Smith, at least he knows this. Smith cultivated a niche fanbase before there ever was such a thing, and he’s written for those passionate fans the whole time. He’s written for himself, too.
I don’t think the Thompson/Tarantino-Smith comparison is really perfect in any way, but it definitely got me thinking this morning about different roadmaps to personal creative success and fulfillment (different things, in the end, I think).
Who knows? Just ignore everybody.