In a blog post blog post about Bob McKimson’s “Foghorn Leghorn” cartoons, John K hits on an important point:
McKimson had a funny worldview.To him, all men are assholes. They are all dumpy, middle aged, loudmouthed schnooks and they all take advantage of each other.He treated all his characters that way, Bugs Daffy, Elmer, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is a sarcastic reality-bitten bully – even Porky Pig!I find that hilarious because it’s so true.
Ebert: One thing that surprised me over the time this went on is how little true concern for Joaquin was expressed. He was instead made the butt of jokes. Have we gotten to the point where the press is playing Dunk the Clown with celebrities?Affleck: It seems so. There were those willing to lampoon him publicly, who when asked to give an interview for the film said, “I don’t want to give you an interview because I don’t know what’s going on with Joaquin and if he’s having real psychological problems or problems with addiction I don’t know what to say.” Yet they felt comfortable mocking him on national TV.
To me, John K has pre-answered the question. Certainly, the public nature of Joaquin Phoenix’s planned behavior factors in (if you make a living entertaining people, it certainly changes how people view and relate to you as a person), but deep down inside, people want to see another asshole get dragged through the mud a bit. In this case, having the whole situation played out in the media and on television almost guaranteed a complete lack of sympathy – these are not emotionally reciprocal mediums of communication, and frankly, I’m surprised that a film expert like Roger Ebert is surprised at how the situation played out.