I’m Nonetheless Right here
In 2009, Joaquin Phoenix appeared on “The Late Present with David Letterman” to advertise his movie Two Lovers. He was wearing a black go well with, white shirt, and black tie. His hair was a large number and his beard was overgrown and untamed. He wore sun shades and chewed gum. He was fidgety and at occasions incoherent, aloof to the purpose of impolite and awkward to the purpose of cringe.
he efficiently pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes
Phoenix’s look and conduct befuddled his host and the viewers. Was he having a nervous breakdown? Was he excessive? Was he taking part in a joke? It turned out he had totally immersed himself in a bit of efficiency artwork for the experimental film I’m Nonetheless Right here, directed by Casey Affleck. Staying in character for 18 months, he efficiently pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes, complicated first the media after which later, the movie’s viewers.
At first look, I’m Nonetheless Right here would possibly appear to be a mockumentary, deconstructing the connection between the picture and the referent, subverting the standard conventions of documentary to deliver throughout its message about fame, id and the character of media illustration. Nevertheless, there may be one essential distinction. Mockumentary requires an implicit contract with a figuring out viewers who’re in on the joke and the social/political critique being expressed. As an alternative, I’m Nonetheless Right here deliberately conceals the knowledge needed for the viewers to be within the loop, making a state of disorientation and uncertainty.
I’ll admit to the same degree of disorientation in latest weeks when I’ve discovered my method onto quite a few poker Twitter Areas, the place a person going by the monicker “Eden Rocks” has cultivated a peculiar type of notoriety. I initially grew to become conscious of him by way of a clip that was circulating during which he was attacking poker group stalwart Donna Morton. Then I heard a clip of him “going toe to toe” with Daniel Negreanu, the pair throwing drunken barbs at each other in what was a pathetic and undignified show of male ego run amok.
Towards my higher judgement, I truly tuned right into a Area on Friday morning, hoping to get some response to Brian Rast’s third WSOP Poker Participant’s Championship victory. As an alternative, I endured thirty minutes of response to Eden Rocks being 86ed from Caesars properties for his umpteenth infraction.
I do not know whether or not he deserves his ban or not. There was apparently a minor altercation that led to him being booted from a $1/$3 money recreation desk final week. He was a bit rowdy on the $250,000 rail just a few days in the past. He entered the tag staff occasion so his cash is in play. It’s doable that the WSOP over-stepped, however it’s additionally doable that he’s accurately being deemed a nuisance.
Eavesdropping on an insane asylum
Drawing closely on the post-documentary cultural motion, I’m Nonetheless Right here was uncomfortable viewing. Phoenix disappeared into his character, totally committing to his descent from famed actor to mumbling rapper. The method taken by him might need appeared extreme, however there was an inventive level being made that required the extent of constancy that he dropped at the half. When what’s being introduced as actual is a public determine sinking deeper and deeper into disaster, that ignites a critique of the viewers, the media and the connection between the 2.
spiraling into tantrums like a jilted teenager
Equally, the person behind Eden Rocks appears dedicated to the half. From the bombastic rhetoric to the melodramatic outbursts, he revels within the spectacle, posting teasers and contriving cliffhangers for his nightly bouts of verbal diarrhea. He will get triggered when challenged, spiraling into tantrums like a jilted teenager and a second later he breaks the fourth wall, claiming that it’s all a part of the narrative.
As a viewer, I couldn’t assist however continuously query the authenticity of I’m Nonetheless Right here and I expertise that very same discombobulating feeling after I hearken to Eden Rocks. Like Andy Kaufman taking part in the absurdly foul-mouthed and overbearing lounge singer Tony Clifton, I don’t know what to take at face worth. Eden Rocks likens his function to that of circus ringmaster, however having listened in for half an hour I felt extra like I used to be eavesdropping on an insane asylum.
As I drank my Friday morning espresso, I knew that I used to be free to show off the Twitter Area, however one thing compelled me to remain. I‘ve heard others converse of the FOMO with regard to those Areas, however it wasn’t that. One thing was dawning on me concerning the Eden Rocks presentation: half Howard Stern radio discuss present, half viewers participation improv comedy, half Andy Kaufman efficiency artwork, half Charlie Kaufman metafiction.
This is perhaps a fairly apparent Johnny-come-lately statement during which case, my apologies to the Eden Rocks trustworthy who cottoned on way back to what it’s he’s doing. I’ve finished my finest to withstand attending these Areas as a result of they appear like dumpster fires. Having had some publicity now, I’d tentatively acknowledge that alongside all of the gossip pedaling, identify calling, consideration in search of, and anti-bully kumbayaing, there may be additionally possibly, simply possibly, one thing fascinating occurring.
Comedians are at all times experimenting with type and apart from the Kaufmans, totally different sorts of meta-comedy have been deployed by the likes of Woody Allen, Larry David, Garry Shandling, Tom Inexperienced, and Norm MacDonald. Now I’m not for a second placing Eden Rocks in that class, however I’m cautiously suggesting that behind the dialog hijacking, belligerence, and mania, there is perhaps some technique behind the insanity.
A part of the meta
Loads of folks presumed that Phoenix was messing about at first. Nevertheless, his convincingly lengthy efficiency made it much less possible that it was all pretend and extra possible that we have been watching one thing actual. At that time, it was the viewers that was on trial as a mirror was held as much as our responses and reactions, making us squirm, difficult our pre-conceived notions as a person revered for his performing turns into a juggernaut of desolation, a narcissist solely in himself. We have been those laid naked towards the backdrop of a definition defying narrative.
how we select to reply is revelatory
Eden Rocks, both accidentally or design, is illuminating one thing concerning the character of the poker group. He has been controversial, obnoxious, contrite, and messianic in his supply and folks tune in to rail the prepare wreck. Whereas we are able to by no means be certain precisely what’s contrived and what’s actual, how we select to reply is revelatory.
It’s very doable that I’m giving Eden’s schtick method an excessive amount of credit score and that he’s truly a muttonheaded blowhard who makes use of the “meta” justification when he takes his listeners down a conversational cul de sac as a result of he isn’t truly capable of weigh in on the extra substantive points in poker. There’s additionally an opportunity that he’s one thing in between, that he’s poker’s Worzel Gummidge: a nearly fit-for-purpose scarecrow who involves life and goes on adventures along with his one go well with and assortment of interchangeable heads.
On the finish of “The Late Present” interview, Letterman quipped: “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be right here tonight.” I don’t know if Eden Rocks is actually there, however I do know that by writing about him, I’m now a part of the meta.