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Kevin Smith's pre-'Fatgate' admission: 'I broke a toilet.'

February 15, 2010 |  4:58 pm

Smith

At first glance, there wouldn’t seem to be a lot of obvious upsides to Kevin Smith’s getting ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight for being too fat. Even if the director ranks among Twitter’s hottest trending topics, significantly goosing the number of media mentions for his new action-comedy, “Cop Out,” which hits theaters on Feb. 26.

But while the incident — and Smith’s subsequent Tweakout about the ordeal, dubbed “Fatgate” —  continues to generate headlines worldwide, it’s not the first time the “Clerks” writer-director has suffered an ignominious, weight-related embarrassment just days before theatrically releasing a new movie.

In 2008, just before the roll-out of his under-performing romantic comedy “Zach and Miri Make a Porno,” Smith suffered a similar humiliation: He admitted that his self-described “morbid obesity” had been responsible for the destruction of a household appliance. And then, as now, he milked it for all it was worth on his blog and in interviews.

“I broke a toilet,” he told The Times. “That’s how heavy I am. I can’t take all the credit. That was an old toilet and a very water-logged wall. But still, there’s no excuses, dude. I cannot cognitively reframe it and be like, ‘It wasn’t me. It was the toilet.’ It was definitely me! And that’s a wake-up call.”

Asked why he would volunteer such a potentially embarrassing story about himself, Smith demurred. “It’s a good story,” he said. “It’s tough not to tell even though I’m the fat clown at the center of it. Putting it out there is saying, ‘I get it. I understand.’ ”

In the immediate aftermath of the director’s Twitter tirade, various blogs weighed in on the matter. Gawker.com hailed the director’s Tweakout as “the best thing Kevin Smith has written since ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.’ ” TMZ, meanwhile, observed “Southwest Should Fit Wide Loads” in its headline about the incident.

Although it is too soon to gauge Smith’s impact on Southwest’s bottom line, anecdotal evidence suggests that he has galvanized his Twitter constituency by vilifying the airline’s treatment of Customers of Size.

“Wanna tell me I’m too wide for the sky? Totally cool,” Smith tweeted Saturday. “But fair warning folks: IF YOU LOOK LIKE ME, YOU MAY BE EJECTED FROM @SouthwestAir.”

The response from many of Smith’s followers has been unequivocal.

On Sunday, one named @chaseronio likened the director to no less than Martin Luther King Jr. in a tweet: “Ur the MLK of fatties."

“I have a Dream,” Smith twittered back with deadpan aplomb. “And two lunches (meatball parm & Trix). And a couple of Twinkies. And a Diet Coke.”

-- Chris Lee

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POLL: Kevin Smith vs. Southwest Airlines

Photo of Kevin Smith by Jay L. Clendenin for the Los Angeles Times.

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