While there are quite a number of iconic scenes in Kevin Smith's Clerks, there's one that comes up from time to time not only in discussion of the film itself, but to continue the debate from the scene. That scene is the Star Wars debate in which Randall (Jeff Anderson) tries to convince Dante (Brian O'Halloran) that the independent contractors working on the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi were innocent victims of the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Imperial Army. As it turns out, it was inspired by a real life experience that Smith had in film school.
In an appearance on The Star Wars Show, Smith revealed that in the early 1990s, before the internet, pop culture references within movies wasn't really a thing. For him, Quentin Tarantino opened the door thanks to Reservoir Dogs.
"So, the notion of like talking about movies within movies laid itself early on," Smith said. "Quentin Tarantino made it possible for me because I saw Reservoir Dogs, top of the movie they're doing the Madonna lyrics. And I remember watching that scene and being like, that counts? That's movie dialogue now? You can just talk about Madonna lyrics? If that's the case, I'm just going to talk about movies because that's all we talked about, that was our currency. Me and my friends didn't really talk to each other in real original thoughts, we just quoted like Raising Arizona and Star Wars and stuff."
He went on to explain that his friends talking mostly in movie quotes and references combined with the pop culture references in Reservoir Dogs ultimately led him to incorporate a real-life coffee shop experience into Clerks.
"So, we'd had this conversation about Star Wars, me and my producer Scott Mosier when we were in film school," he said. "We started free associating in this coffee shop in Vancouver, this is like 1992 and there was a dude in the coffee shop, wasn't with me and Mosier, sitting at another table. I see the dude slowly put his paper down and listen. Now, this was at a time where, believe it or not, there was a moment when people weren't talking about Star Wars and I think that dude was just so electrified to hear anybody else talking about Star Wars. If we had waited three more years, the internet would happen and that conversation wouldn't matter because you have that conversation a thousand times a day on the internet but we had it in real life and I saw someone react and I said I'm going to put that in the movie, man. I'm going to include that scene. I'm going to include that star wars conversation... and then when the movie came out that was the international currency. They say the international language is love, no, the international language is Star Wars."
And, Smith is right. Pop culture is far more incorporated into the mainstream culture and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn't have a frame of reference for Star Wars. 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the fourth highest grossing film of all time with 2017's Star Wars: The Last Jedi not too far behind it at number 13. The upcoming final installment of that trilogy and the end of the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, opens in theaters in December and it, too, will likely be a huge box office hit. Fans are already speculating as to when the final trailer for the film will hit.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th.
What do you think about the origin of Clerks' Star Wars debate scene? Let us know in the comments below.