“I never intended to trick anybody. The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind.”
- Casey Affleck, director of ”I’m Still Here”
Well, now we know that Affleck was trying to deceive everyone as well as Joaquin Phoenix when Phoenix portrayed himself as an actor-turned-rapper and Affleck shot a pretend documentary about it. They perhaps thought they were breaking new ground in entertainment and art (more likely- there wasn’t much thought at all). But for those who remember comedian Andy Kaufman, they’ll also remember his invention of Tony Clifton, a bizarre, Vegas-style performer who appeared on talk shows and other venues not as Kaufman’s alter ego but as an entirely different person. It was strange and hilarious.
Unlike Phoenix, this behavior was what we came to expect of Kaufman, whose original and inspired form of comedy was refreshing and dangerous. Phoenix’ “transformation” came out of the blue and became more a mockery of himself and reality TV than entertainment or art. Elaborate hoaxes are nothing new. But other recent ones have been much more entertaining and intriguing i.e. Balloon Boy, Acid-in-the-Face Woman.
Sadly, Affleck’s and Phoenix’ charade is an utter bomb and may have seriously damaged both of their careers. As we’ve seen with other “reality TV” stars like Jon Gosselin or anyone who was ever a reality show bachelor, when you blur reality for your own financial gain or ego gratification, it’s a very short distance to both the top- and the bottom.