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Joaquin Phoenix Dislocating His Knee Does Not an Award-Worthy Performance Make


Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)

There is a lot happening surrounding Joaquin Phoenix after his win at the Golden Globes for Joker. A movie that I did not like but that I respect his performance in, Joker has been the talk of Twitter. Literally. If you tweet anything slightly against the movie, angry fans will come and find you, and that’s kind of how a new meme surrounding the movie and Phoenix hurting himself was formed.

Before I get into the injury, I want to talk about the other issue surrounding Phoenix: His reaction to a reporter.

I’d also love if everyone defending Joaquin Phoenix would politely leave River Phoenix out of it. Yes, Joaquin Phoenix has anxiety and issues with the press after what happened to his brother, but holding other celebrities (especially women) to different standards isn’t okay.

For example, here are the comments under Phoenix’s brushoff of the reporter versus comments under Jennifer Lawrence’s “rude” antics:

That’s not to say that I think praise for Phoenix’s performance is unearned. It’s the same feeling I had towards Rami Malek after Bohemian Rhapsody. I hated the movie, but I liked the performance.

But the bigger issue at large now is not so much Phoenix’s reaction to a reporter, but rather, going back to the idea of his deserving of awards because he “dislocated his knee.” Not only does he not deserve an award just because he accidentally hurt himself, but we should most definitely stop praising unhealthful bodily harm, including body transformations, in film and television as if it isn’t an unhealthy message.

Let’s start first with Phoenix’s own comments on how his weight loss for Joker involved an eating disorder. When I tweeted about this in the past, I was told it was his “process.” As someone who struggles with eating and food and my own body, these kinds of comments and glorification of weight loss/eating disorders is extremely dangerous. Now, Phoenix is not the only one, by far. Christian Bale has done it numerous times (he is one of my favorite actors, but he does it and it is praised over and over again, and we really need to stop it), and then there’s someone like Carrie Fisher and the weight loss that was demanded of her for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that was unnecessary and may have been detrimental to her health.

That’s just the start of it, though. While fans (and critics) alike think the weight-loss transformation is something good, there is now a new layer of “He should win for this personal physical suffering”: his dislocated knee. I literally could not find whether this was even true or not. What happened is a Twitter account that likes Joker posted a video of Joaquin Phoenix, as Arthur Fleck beating someone up, and it looks like he hits his knee on a dumpster. Rookie mistake.

From there, the mockery began. Mainly using other actors who did wild things for their craft or even just random jokes thrown in.

The thing is, I think we should a) stop glorifying performances based on whether or not actors endure physical harm, and b) recognize all the work that an actor puts into their craft.

(image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel (she/her) is an I, Tonya stan who used to have a poster of Frank Sinatra on her wall as a kid. She loves superheroes, weird musicals, wants Robert Downey Jr. to release a new album, and would sell her soul for Pedro Pascal as Kraven the Hunter. She is Leslie Knope and she's okay with that. Secretly Grogu's mom and Lizzie Olsen's best friend.