Joaquin has always ranked high among my favorite American actors. From John Ridley's U-Turn to Signs to Walk the Line, Phoenix brings a courageous exploration of humanity in most of his roles and that's important to me. So the flags went up several weeks ago when he announced he was leaving film acting to pursue a career in music, rap music. I just couldn't believe it, but hey, the business of Hollywood can be exhausting for many who simply want to make art. But now it's rumored Joaquin's rap career [allegedly fostered by P. Diddy] is a hoax, a joke, Hollywood funny.
Here's my question: why do people continue to use black culture as a place to play and get their kicks? There are some serious hip hop artists out there [Lupe Fiasco, etc], plunging deep into their souls and culture, posing questions about our times, and helping reshape the consciousness of a generation. Even the so-called "bling-rappers" are attempting to articulate the reality or pursuit of a consumer-rich life. But some whites [and others] think it's cool-beans to mock the art form by placing themselves in it and showing the world how horribly they understand or absorb it. Who cares! Why is there a platform for this? Why do some whites continue to think mocking blackness is a way to make a buck or get attention? I know this is a bit extreme, maybe, but it's a form of blackface. Yeh, I said it. Blackface. If the rumor is true [and I'm sure it is] I'm disappointed in Joaquin. Here's some advice for Joaquin and others like him: Play somewhere else! Blackface is passe!
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.