Kevin Smith’s mission to turn Red State into some sort of tent-revival referendum on the state of modern filmmaking and the celebrity of Kevin Smith is clearly working, and if he can maintain a level of P.T. Barnum spectacle like his recent self-engineered dust-up with the Westboro Baptist Church, he’ll continue to go a long way toward reconciling those “punk rock filmmaking” claims and the fat-cat ticket prices. Last week, Smith alerted fans to a screening at Kansas City’s Midland Theater that would be attended by Megan and Jael Phelps—Fred Phelps’ granddaughters and two of the younger, more dynamic members of the “God Hates Fags” Family that the film is based on—who Smith promised would be there to both protest Red State beforehand, as well as appear on stage afterward to offer their reviews. “This is gonna be like watching Star Wars with Darth Vader right there in the audience!” Smith crowed on his blog, promising that the whole thing would spill over into an epic on-stage debate that would be a “fire-and-brimstonerific laugh riot.”
Of course, said laugh riot never really materialized: Although the WBC did turn up to yell and wave signs beforehand, as is their idiom, both Megan and Jael bailed on the film after approximately 15 minutes, pausing to drop off autographed “God Hates Fag Enablers” and “Red State Fags” signs with Smith, then streaming out of the theater in a cloud of huffy piety. On Twitter, Megan noted that she “finally met [Kevin Smith] (briefly) as we left the Midland!” then offered her take on the film: “One word review of the first few minutes: filth!” (Giving credence to Smith’s claims that their share a “Moonlighting-like” sexual tension, however, she ended her slap with the tickle of, “Thanked him kindly…”) Smith responded, “HOLY SHIT! I was just given a parting gift from @MeganPhelps! SHE JUST LEFT WITH HER ENTIRE FAMILY! RED STATE DISGUSTS THE PHELPS!!!”, clearly pleased that he’d succeeded in pissing off the easily riled people whom he specifically set out to mock.
However, it didn’t all end there: Some of the Phelps clan lingered—namely Libby Phelps and Josh Phelps-Roper, two of the WBC’s noted apostates, who joined Smith on stage to talk about the “real” story of life inside the family. You can check out some of that talk in the video below.
And of course, Smith has kept up his Twitter debate with various members of the Phelps family for the last several days, though he is now specifically buoyed by his personal experience with Libby and Josh to try engaging church spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper on a personal level, and to convince her to put aside her hateful practices to reconnect with her estranged children. Mostly, however, he’s just been battling it out with Steve Drain, the former documentary filmmaker who began making a movie about the Phelps family and then suddenly uprooted his entire life to join them, and whom Smith has been egging on by calling him a “wannabe” Phelps. As with all things Red State, the off-screen action continues to be far more entertaining. [via /Film]