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12 February 2009 @ 06:31 pm
Joaquin Phoenix is either crazy or more brilliant than we give him credit for. I think it's somewhere toward the latter.

Good actors, like many artists out there, get bored within their craft when they've achieved everything they've ever wanted to achieve. Like Brando before him, or Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino now, he's received the accolades, he's taken over the characters he's portrayed, he's won awards and made millions. From there, you can really only go one of two ways: crazy or vain. Brando went crazy, obviously. He would only work in movies to make enough money to keep up his lavishly crazy lifestyle. It didn't matter the movie, for he had nothing left to prove. On The Waterfront, Last Tango In Paris, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, these are the movies that not only define the man, they define the art of acting. DeNiro and Pacino - who are irreplacably intertwined with Brando thanks to their exceptional film choices in the 70s - have succumbed to vanity. They seek to remain relevant in a world that no longer appreciates the greats. Choice roles are given to younger studs, and the groundbreaking films are being created by nobodies, starring nobodies. These two can't attach themselves to an indie project without bringing the full brunt of Hollywood along with them, thereby sullying any credibility that indie project might have once had. But, they still want to act, even though they too have nothing left to prove. So, seemingly, they accept any fucking blunder that their agents come across, explaining every single movie they've done for the last decade. If they were to make another Taxi Driver, another Serpico, it wouldn't even have the same resonance because we the viewing public couldn't help but see it as a desperate attempt to reclaim their lost glory.

Joaquin Phoenix has opted to somehow combine the two; he is Crazy Vanity, and everywhere he goes is one disaster on top of another.

The beard alone is the first clue. In a society as self-aware and image-conscious as Hollywood, a lunatic beard just won't fly. For an eccentric director, maybe. But not an actor; see: George Clooney's attempt at growing a moustache.

Then, there was the rapping video, and the rumors of Casey Affleck directing a "documentary" of Phoenix's attempt at launching a hip hop career. It's obvious social commentary. What exactly that commentary is saying, I haven't yet decided. It could be as simple as Phoenix being so bored that he's created this alter-ego and he's just going around fucking with everybody a la Andy Kaufman. That's certainly one possibility, and probably more spot-on than these earnest celebrity magazines would like to imagine. Because they'd love nothing more than for him to be honestly crazy of the schizo/bi-polar variety. There's nothing a TMZ loves more than seeing someone's fall from grace, the more tragic the better.

I'd like to think it's something more than a talented actor bored with his craft. I'd like to say he's saying something about American gullibility, or about a man's place in the world he creates. Just because you're known to be something doesn't mean you have to be pigeonholed into that thing for the rest of your life. Of course, I'd also like to say that he's attempting to prove a theory that people will buy anything, no matter how rediculous. Because, there's nothing more rediculous than the idea of Joaquin Phoenix as a platinum-selling hip hop artist, adored by millions, touring with the Roots and Jay-Z. If he could make THAT happen, then there truly is no God and we might as well burn the whole fucking world down and start over. The Paris Hiltons of the world would have defeated us like rabid dogs.

See, he shouldn't be a successful rapper just because he's already famous. He shouldn't even be garnering this kind of publicity for being an idiot just because he was once an actor and now he's faking looney tunes. But, he is - at least the publicity part - and that's what's wrong with America. There's no fucking WAY he'll sell a dime making music. I don't care what you say, nobody's THAT stupid.

Of course, if this all turns out to be something that he's committed for, I'm going to be royally upset. Because the only thing worse than paying attention to someone undeserving is paying attention to someone who's ACTUALLY having a mental breakdown. Then he'll go to rehab, or a mental institution, and his family will issue reports requesting privacy, and some vacant-faced pundit on all the celebrity news shows will be crowing about how, "Somebody should have stepped in there and intervened," and eventually he'll get off the smack or he'll get on the right smack that makes his brain function normally and he'll go on a national press tour of Oprah/The View/David Letterman/Larry King/Regis & Kelly/Good Morning America and say, "Don't worry, all better now, starring in a new movie with Brad Pitt and Anne Hathaway this fall!"

And nobody wants that.
 
 
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