When I watched the interview with Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman last night, I immediately flashed back to high school and college. There were these kids at my school, and the “richer” schools around town, who were so privileged and “cool” that their smugness and egos could light up a few counties. They didn’t have to answer to anyone, they didn’t “care” what people thought, their bratty and self-centered behavior mystified grown-ups and enchanted wannabes and social groupies. They hated the very system that elevated them and supported their dreams of becoming artists or musicians or wandering philosophers. They took risks because they knew their brand of risk came with the stability of parents with money, or a trust fund. I did not like these people because, to be blunt, they were assholes. They abandoned manners and their unique sense of judgement could make right wing conservatives look like Mother Theresa.
But then I caught myself. I started to remember other late night antics– Andy Kaufman, maybe? Naah… I think the interview had more to do with getting some cool footage for the Casey Affleck documentary about Joaquin’s new hip hop career. Seems there is always room for the requisite “Fuck you, Dave” or “This was me hitting rock bottom” scene in any self-respecting celebrity documentary. Perhaps Joaquin orchestrated the lame interview to provide that much-needed dramatic arch to any future true story docu-drama.
Or you know what? Maybe he was just high.