Remember when Joaquin Phoenix played Emperor Commodus and made being power-mad kind of sexy? Remember when Joaquin Phoenix played Johnny Cash and made being tormented and hopeless kind of sexy? Remember when Joaquin Phoenix stopped showering and made unwashed vagrancy the world’s most uninteresting controversy?
Since his shock-seeking announcement last October that Phoenix is leaving a healthy and ascending acting career to pursue, of all things, rapping, speculation has raced rampant through the intranets about what. The hell. Is happening. I figure we’ve basically got three options:
It’s a hoax. Most of the word on the street is that this is a drawn-out, terribly un-funny prank. Evidence for:
For real? He looks like someone’s not-cool dad getting up at a school dance and throwing down all the big rappa names he can think of. And to be honest, all of this might have been kind of hilarious if he’d owned up after a month or so, but the dead horse is flogged. Remember that time Andy Kaufman pretended to die, and then faked being dead for, what, going on 25 years now? Yeah, that wasn’t funny either. Evidence against: El Phoenix himself says is f’reals. “This is not a joke. Might I be ridiculous? Might my career in music be laughable? Yeah, that’s possible, but that’s certainly not my intention.” So hey, straight from the Unabomber’s mouth. Brother-in-law Casey Affleck is allegedly filming all this crazy business for
It started as a hoax, but JP has been EATEN ALIVE by his new badass alter-ego. The thrill of sleeping in his clothes, falling off stage, and giving incoherent, surly interviews has been too much for the troubled Phoenix, and he has swapped his existence as a reasonably-sane-person-from-a-difficult-background for flat-out-batshitter. Alternately, Phoenix is the latest in a long line of Hollywoodsters who have cracked under the strain, and he has crosshisheartandhopetodie lost his marbles. Evidence for: Well, it sounds likely, doesn’t it? I mean, this would explain a lot, and then we’d all get to go back to thinking well of him, if a little pityingly. Evidence against: I don’t really have any, but if this is true then I am a jerk, and I owe the Phoenixes a sympathy card.
It’s for real. Playing dark, insecure characters for years has turned JoaqFeen into a humorless ball of angst. Evidence for: It’s been going on for months. He keeps showing up places and rapping. He has a RECORDING STUDIO BUILT IN HIS HOUSE! Evidence against: If it’s not a prank, he’s being rude as hell. When he appeared on Letterman in February, he relentlessly refused to banter wittily or discuss his allegedly final film, Two Lovers, slouched in his sea looking put-upon, and chewed gum like a teenager with something to prove. Last week the director of Two Lovers, James Gray, called the actor/rapper out for failing to promote the movie, which has gotten moderately good reviews but little buzz. While all publicity is ostensibly good publicity, it seems like people are so tired of Phoenix’s gag that they’re taking it out on the film. If this were a genuine change of careers, you’d think JP would have the grace to tie up his loose ends before treading his new path.
I wonder if Phoenix had mined this endeavor for all its potential consequences beforehand. If it’s a prank then he’s being an un-funny douche, and if it’s not then he’s an irresponsible jerk. It seems like the only way he can come out of this looking good is by being legitimately crazy.