Joaquin Phoenix's Reverse Catch-22 -

Joaquin Phoenix’s Reverse Catch-22


When I read about Joaquin Phoenix’s “performance” in I’m Still Here, the first thing that came to mind was that this is like a real-life Catch-22.

“You mean there’s a catch?”

“Sure there’s a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane then he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.

“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

So, applying a variant of that logic to the Phoenix situation:

– Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t really crazy; he just spent two years pretending to be crazy.

– However, only a crazy person would give up a thriving career and waste two years of his life pretending to be crazy.

– Therefore, Joaquin Phoenix is crazy because he was pretending to be crazy.

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Joaquin Phoenix’s Reverse Catch-22

  1. Except that's not a Catch-22. Sure, maybe only a crazy person would pretend to be crazy, but a perfectly sane person could seem perfectly sane.

  2. Crazy like Andy Kaufman, whose talent outside of the crazy shtick was unremarkable and quite forgettable.

  3. Actually, Joaquin Phoenix's talent, while not quite remarkable, is certainly greater than Andy Kaufman's. God knows what he was thinking. No doubt his brother-in-law was thinking "this could make me more famous than Ben!"