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I’m Still Here. For Now.

September 30, 2010

Last night I watched the Joaquin Phoenix mockumentary, I’m Still Here — on demand (paying $12 to see it in theatres is absurd!).  Had it been a movie about a fake former celeb turned rapper it might have been better.  Or, as my friend suggested, had they kept up the ‘documentary’ aspect to the public, but behind closed doors showed them laughing at the whole thing and everyone — then maybe they would have actually been saying something.  Most knew it was a hoax, so you just couldn’t connect with it — not that there was anything new they were bringing to the table about celebradom.

I did find myself able to connect to the emotional despair.  While I do not believe in meaning — I believe we create meaning due to an inability to just exist; a left-brained need to make sense of what we’ve done, what we’re doing, what we’re going to do and why.  And, quite simply, out of a very real need to keep going — I do believe in existential crisis.  We all fall victim of the very heavy questions about what we are doing with our lives.  In the mockumentary, Joaquin realizes somewhere over the course of a lifetime of acting he has turned into the character Joaquin Phoenix and he is sick of playing the role 24/7.  So he gives up acting and decides he has a burning within him to be a rapper.  Everything that has happened in his life has imparted him with wisdom — both from what he has done and what he did not do.  He has a message and wants to get it out there.  Difficulty getting his music career started, as well as difficulty getting taken seriously, causes him to question his decision to quit acting.  At one point he has a panic attack over having thrown it all away and not really knowing why.  He says the words, I’m retiring from acting, just came out of his mouth.  Facing criticism and humiliation toward his rapping career — and his whole life in general — Joaquin is spiraling out of control.

Now in real life most of us have support systems — family, friends, various organizations we belong to — that will step in if we are truly spiraling out of control.  But the external can only do so much to aid us in our fight with our internal demons.  That’s why so many who have loving support systems fall victim of addiction or depression.  The movie seemed to want a sense of ‘real life’ in the midst of the absurdity, so some kind of intervention probably would have helped.

While not necessarily a fan of the movie, I am drawn to the emotional content.  That mix of despair and longing and confusion and frustration is something ever human being can relate to.  As a person who feels very deeply, in many ways I am currently going through the same thing.  I have more or less for years.  From those I speak to about this, and I’ve spoken to many — a whole hodge podge of collected souls — it seems to be a very common theme in ones twenties.  Although, I tend to think it’s a reoccurring theme through out our entire life course.  We just pay better attention in our twenties because we have less distractions.  And we still have our blank canvas stretched out before us.  It’s a lot easier to question before you start painting then to honestly analyze and critic what you’ve spent a lot of time painting, because that may mean having to summon the strength to start a new painting after all that time.

I also found it interesting that his appearance stirred up so much controversy.  The homeless look is very frowned upon in American culture, even if the individual is millions away from being without home.  I’ve been known to go a bit homeless chic (but as my friend once said, my look is more homeless than chic) from time to time.  In fact, this afternoon I was the recipient of some less-than-friendly glares while out dog walking.  I’d had a long day at work, was soaked from the DC-style monsoon and exhausted by the time I got home.  I changed out of my wet clothes into a loose-fitting, non-fashionable/matching outfit.  My hair was rather all over the place due to my earlier interactions with the weather.  I definitely looked certifiable, I just don’t know why not feeding into what society says we should look like is considered certifiable.  I guess it is deeper rooted in aesthetics and an individual being more drawn to another individual with smooth hair to frizzy.

I get taking excessive weight gain, crazy-all-over-the-place hair and a grizzly beard as a sign of some kind of cognitive/emotional crisis.  But, does it have to be?  Why is it the individual with the disheveled appearance the one with the problem and not the person judging the disheveled individual?  And why do others care so damn much about the appearance of a stranger?  If I were to spend the next week donning tattered frocks and (even more) crazy hair, a lot of passer-bys would have much to gawk about as…passing by.

Perhaps we spend so much time talking about others as a way to avoid the meaninglessness, dysfunction or boredom of our own lives.  Maybe we have to throw stones at the ‘non-conformer’ due to an inherent frustration arising from assimilation and personal weakness that keeps us from becoming a non-conformer.  Or maybe it’s just the result of a funky smell.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 4, 2010 3:30 pm

    What you don’t know is that Moose is a nieghborhood celeb…so I’m thinking the weird looks were probably people not thinking “OMG what is that woman wearing” but more “OMG, someone is dognapping Moose!!!”


    PS Movie sucked.

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