BY Craig Ball
In an article entitled “In Praise of Slacking”, Katarzyna Malecka states: “Some people live to work, others work to live, while still others prefer to live lives of leisure”. This statement helps us begin to understand the mind and motivation of the so-called “slacker”. These people disregard work and place a life of leisure as a main necessity in life.
Kevin Smith’s CLERKS was made for a very small budget of just over $27,000 and ended up grossing over $3 million nationwide. It kick-started Smith’s career and is regarded as a cult classic in the study of American independent cinema. The film follows a workday of two underachievers: Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran), a convenience store employee, and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), a clerk at a video rental store. The premise of the film is based around Dante being called in to cover someone’s shift, of which he frequently likes to remind us by saying, “I’m not even supposed to be here today”. He does not see any benefits in this situation: there are a thousand things he would rather be doing than working.
Randal happily comes into work, but not to do his job properly. He just wants to watch films, debate pointless topics with Dante and is constantly rude to his customers. During one scene, a mother and her young child come in asking for “Happy Scrappy Hero Pup”. Randal, while on phone to the distributors, makes sure to loudly read through some of the most absurd pornographic film titles right in front them, before then asking for the mother's request.
While Dante is more responsible than Randal in many ways, he still embodies “slacker” traits. This is because he is using work as a way of slacking off from life itself. Nevertheless, Randal does manage to convince Dante to do some reckless things during the day to try and make it more enjoyable for them both. Throughout, it is Randal who tries to make Dante’s workday better even though we know they would both rather be somewhere else. I am sure there has been a time at work for us all where we could have done with a friend like Randal.
Ask most teenagers currently working a part-time job and they will probably find themselves relating to either Dante or Randal. Smith has managed to create characters that can still be considered relatable 24 years later.
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