2012: The Year In Performance Art

(Chris Brown: in terrorist form)

For the 2010 mockumentary I’m Still Here, Joaquin Phoenix plays Joaquin Phoenix as he retires from acting and purports to start a life as a rapper. Prior to the release, nobody really understood what was going on but we all agreed that Joaquin had lost it–and that letterman escapade validated it. It was performance art of the highest caliber and, whether you think it worked or not, it was pretty damn ballsy.

2012 saw the emergence of rapper Trinidad Jame$ and his now infamous music video. It also saw James Franco tricking people into thinking he was some kind of renaissance man; simply unhappy with being an average actor, he suddenly felt the need to be average in a bunch of other vein projects like being a professor of “something”, an artiste and a “writer” for–cheekily–Vanity Fair. It saw Chris Brown needing more hatred and vitriol, as the advent of people feeling indifferent about his existence simply wasn’t enough for him–and, finally, 2012 saw lil b being very lil b throughout the year.

Now one could get mad about this–outraged even. In fact I was pretty inclined to get agitated over these people time and time again. However, I thought back to I’m Still Here and it dawned on me: This was all a show. For you see, there’s no possible way that lil b is that self-unaware that he would give his cat a record deal. There’s no way that James Franco is that in love with himself that he simply indulges in any fantasy he deems “esteemed” enough–no matter how unqualified he is to do so. There’s no way a drugged-out Sly Stone look-alike would seriously make a video where he’s open-shirted and holding a puppy, rapping about gold as if that were a good idea and there is just no way that some guy who made like 3 good songs would actively bait people into hating him and still have legions of crazy fans defend him. No, there’s just no way. It’s all performance art.

That’s what 2012 was all about. Putting on a show to expose the the anomaly that is celebrity, and why it allows us to do everything we want without fear of vitriol from a set fanbase. They actively exposed how silly entertainment was and how silly we all were for feeding into it. You succeeded guys, Whether through hosting a class on yourself, threatening to “shart” in a female comedian’s mouth or popping mollys and sweating, you showed us all how stupid we still are. Can’t wait to see what 2013 brings.


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