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I’ve written about it many times over the years, but no one was a bigger influence on me than Kevin Smith in my teenage years. He was my everything. I obsessed over his work and his success created my desire to become a filmmaker.

One of the biggest reasons I enjoyed his material was because it was so relatable. It was regular people talking about the nerdy, pop culture things I wanted to talk about. His characters were people I wanted to hang out with, if not be myself. Randal was my hero, at least through my twenties. Then I grew up and realized what a jerk he was.

Being able to follow the View Askew Universe through comics, cartoons, and movies has been a wonderful experience and would no doubt be a chapter in my life. Over the last few years, I’ve been unsatisfied with Kevin’s work, but Clerks III is an exception. The film was great. It broke some new ground while retreading over some old stuff and then provided us with both shock and closure. Closure I didn’t know I needed.

As my thirty-nineth birthday approached, I began feeling different about my life. I had one more year till forty and obviously, I was no where I imagined myself all those years back when I first began watching Kevin Smith films. Life was what it was, and seeing my Quick Stop buddies both in a place in their lives they’d rather not be was relatable.

Randal, was still Randal. A smug, unhappy jerk, who relished on making other people look and feel dumb. Dante, was still a bit pathetic, but this time more understandable as his wife and child had passed on.

When Randal has his heart attack, after ranting about some pop culture non-sense, he keeps with the non-sense all the way onto the surgery table. It was humorous and a bit pathetic. I guess, as a guy who dribbles on about pop culture all the time, I cringed at the scene because that’s sort of me. I don’t got much to say unless you want to discuss something nerdy.

Dante found something real in his life and Randal didn’t. Dante ends up dying and despite the sadness of it all, at least for a year or so, he was happy. I think a lot of navigate life without every truly being happy, so I was thankful the character got that sort of arc.

With Dante’s death, came closure, maybe on that chapter in my life. Not necessarily View Askew films, but the obsession with pop culture or the person I used to be. I had surrounded myself with mementos of my childhood due to my on dissatisfaction with life and that is not healthy. Using the excuse that things were so much better twenty years ago, does not give me an excuse to not properly live now.

For years, I battled with myself about growing up. I found excuses to hang onto my childhood, which mainly consisted of it being safe. It was what was there for me when times were rough, so it’s nice to hang it hanging around even now. But there isn’t much of a battle now. I know this is the next stage and I’m excited to take it. I think maybe, I finally reached a point where I no longer need my safety blanket. I’m ready to go out into the scary world and try to make a life I want to have.

I feel alone in this journey. I think the internet has supported the idea through social media, that being an uber-nerd, collector, or “biggest fan” is important. But ya know, I never could compete with those folks. I also know none of this is going to matter in the end.

So, I plan on enjoying the fandoms I enjoy, but eliminating the ones I “force watch” or feel responsible to give a chance. I’m going to allow somethings to flow out of my life and I’m going to continue to push my quiet, peaceful agenda.

I am so thankful for all the years of enjoyment I received through Kevin Smith’s work. How his films made me feel like I had best friends, when I didn’t. And I’m equally as thankful that his work has allowed me to say good-bye and close the door on the Brandon that once was.

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