37 Dicks x 20: Celebrating the Anniversary of "Clerks"

20 years ago today, Kevin Smith's Clerks was released in theaters.
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20 years ago today, Kevin Smith's Clerks was released in theaters.
Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 12.26.14 PM

The movies that have come to define my generation aren't just the movies we grew up with, they're movies that acknowledge and even pay tribute to the movies we grew up with. What made Tarantino such a shot of adrenaline to the heart back in the early to mid 90s wasn't simply his willingness to disregard convention, but his unabashed worship of the kinds of movies that first made him want to work in the medium. He took individual markers from myriad genres and, kind of like a DJ does with samples, created a thrilling pastiche that ultimately became his own signature vision.

Kevin Smith's inspiration was much closer to home. He filtered a passion for Star Wars and comic books, a universal among nerd kids, through his personal experiences of growing up in New Jersey. Then he threw in Gen X's general malaise and aimlessness, fears about the future, enlarged irony gland, and encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture trivia and ephemera, gave it the best DIY treatment $25,000 could buy him and created Clerks. A $3-million haul later, Smith was a bona fide phenomenon.

In the time since, Kevin Smith has made a few really good movies, a few passable movies, and a few movies that are flat-out terrible. His various media enterprises now include podcasting, spoken word touring, and promising to do stuff that never actually happens probably because he made those promises when he was high. Regardless, Clerks remains, in many ways, his crowning achievement -- if only because it was such a blisteringly smart, charmingly vulgar and really fucking funny breath of fresh air when it was released.

And it was released 20 years ago today.

Here's your Sunday nostalgia...