Oh My Aching Sides

Hey, remember last year when Joaquin Phoenix grew a "crazy" beard and declared he was abandoning acting to become a rapper, and he made a bunch of public appearances acting all "weird," and all over the teevee and the internetz, people speculated about his "insane" appearance on David Letterman's show, and debated whether he was mentally ill or addicted to drugs or drowning in booze, which naturally resulted in all sorts of disablist commentary and reinforcement of disablist narratives...?

Yeah, ha ha, it turns out that was all a joke.
CASEY AFFLECK wants to come clean.

His new movie, "I'm Still Here," was performance. Almost every bit of it. Including Joaquin Phoenix's disturbing appearance on David Letterman's late-night show in 2009, Mr. Affleck said in a candid interview at a cafe here on Thursday morning.

"It's a terrific performance, it's the performance of his career," Mr. Affleck said. He was speaking of Mr. Phoenix's two-year portrayal of himself — on screen and off — as a bearded, drug-addled aspiring rap star, who, as Mr. Affleck tells it, put his professional life on the line to star in a bit of "gonzo filmmaking" modeled on the reality-bending journalism of Hunter S. Thompson.

...Mr. Affleck, who is married to Mr. Phoenix's sister and has been his friend for almost 20 years, said he wanted audiences to experience the film's narrative, about the disintegration of celebrity, without the clutter of preconceived notions.

So he said little in interviews. "We wanted to create a space," he said. "You believe what's happening is real."
It must be fun to play crazy for "performance art," and then leave it behind as soon as you're done with it. Would that my mental illness were a costume I could slip out of and toss on the floor.

The privilege here is astounding, frankly. Apart from the disablism, there's the fact that none of Phoenix's colleagues on the film he was promoting while engaging in this SO FUN! piece of performance art had any idea what was going on. It's one thing to risk tanking your own career by using a publicity tour to behave like a jackass for another project, but he and Affleck apparently didn't give two shits that blowback from the stunt might affect his co-stars and the producers of the film (which tanked, and might have, anyway).

And then there's the fact that part of this shtick was Phoenix's claim to be leaving his successful acting career behind to become a hip-hop artist. HOW CRAZY. That's not something white people do, amirite?!

I'm sure that's some kind of super-edgy, totally ironic, and way hilarious hipster racism that I'm just too square to appreciate.


Meanwhile, in the making of this exercise in vanity and privilege, two sexual harassment suits were brought against Affleck by female crew members, both of which have just been settled. Fun project. Very cool.

Iain and I have had a running argument about the veracity of Phoenix's "breakdown." I have been insistent it was a put-on; Iain disagreed. This morning, I sent him the link to this story with the note: "Told you." He responded: "Dang it, lol. How the hell did you know that?" I replied: "Because I'm a genius. Now be shushtelled." (eliciting another laugh).

But the truth is, I just had a feeling. A feeling of being made fun of.

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