Thursday, September 23, 2010

Joaquin Phoenix and the Nature Of Truth in 2010

I saw “I’m Still Here” last weekend and came away convinced it was not a “hoax.” When I learned this morning that this film is total fabrication, I couldn’t believe it. I had gone into the theatre with an open mind and came away convinced that I had actually observed a human being having a mental breakdown. How stupid could I have been?

But here it is. Casey Affleck, director and documentarian (apparently mockumentarian) of Joaquin Phoenix’s breakdown told Roger Ebert the “real story.” It was all an acting job.

How is this possible? Does it matter? Who cares?

It is possible, it matters a great deal, and anybody in the “communication” biz had better care because this is what can happen – and maybe does far more than we imagine -- when the media, the consumers of media, and the creators of media gather.

I mean what IS real? If somebody like Joaquin Phoenix or Sacha Baron Cohen can “go into character” for long periods of time and fool everybody who’s not in on the joke – including self-promoter extraordinaire, Sean “Puff Daddy Diddy” Combs – what the heck does reality have to do with anything anymore?

If you’re in the marketing business – or if you live on Planet Earth – here are the troubling questions that Joaquin has thrown at us:

  1. Is reality TV really real, or are these folks all “acting”?
  2. Do people who star on reality TV become real (in other words, do they soon begin to believe their own nonsense?)
  3. How are politicians of the day any different from method actors, drenched in their roles? Has Sarah Palin become who she wasn’t, but now is? What does that say about a leader “we can believe in”?
  4. If the media, too, can be fooled, can we believe anything that we see or hear, or read in the media?
  5. If the media has become the distributor of stories, games, and propaganda, what do we need it for? Do we care?
  6. Does “success” merely lie in the ability to deceive for a purpose?
  7. Do consumers any longer care whether or not an event is true or if any person is really what they are representing?

There’s a lot to think about here and if this story doesn’t get our communal brain into high gear, we are indeed fiddling.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

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