Life Lessons You Should Learn From Joaquin Phoenix and Steve Buscemi


I’m guessing that you don’t hear that sentence every day. In fact, if I were a betting woman, I’d guess that you’d never heard that sentence before in your life. However, after a recent discussion (over to what extent we should look to celebrities as role models) with some friends of mine, names like the humanitarians Bono and Oprah cropped up, but I couldn’t get my mind off of Phoenix and Buscemi.

We pretty much unanimously agreed that we shouldn’t generally look to celebrities as role models (though they should try to be good role models), for the record, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about why I couldn’t get my mind off Phoenix and Buscemi.

Joaquin Phoenix

I’m Still Here (2010) is probably the worst film I have ever almost seen; I say, “Almost,” because I stopped myself from finishing it. (I made it through nearly three-quarters of it, and if torture weren’t such a serious issue, I’d claim that I had been tortured.) In late 2008 Joaquin Phoenix announced that he was done with acting and had decided to take up rapping. After a bizarre appearance on Letterman early in 2009, wherein he alternately rambled or fell disconcertingly silent, a number of critics worried that he had seriously gone off the deep end.

It was only after the release of the aforementioned execrable film that he revealed it was a mockumentary and that he’d been acting the whole time. He also revealed that he’d done it because of how amazed he was that people believe so-called “reality” television shows are unscripted.

Perhaps the only thing more trivial than “reality” television is Phoenix’s attempt to show the non-reality of reality television. Whether or not “reality” television is scripted (I imagine much is scripted, but when they go off the rails, they go off the script), Phoenix wasted his talents and two years of his life, and he—unintentionally, I’m sure—taught me not to squander my own.


Steve Buscemi

If I were Steve Buscemi, I’d be spending most of my day researching orthodontic options, from caps and crowns in LA to invisalign braces in Charlotte. Fortunately for the world, instead of spending his time trying to fix his teeth, Steve Buscemi does things that matter. Before he became the character actor we know today, Buscemi worked as fire fighter in his native New York City, so when the World Trade Center went down, he spent a week in the rubble searching for survivors.

Ultimately, that’s what’s important: to be willing to set whatever you’re doing and help people. Who cares if he’s got bad teeth? (Actually, he was quoted once saying that he’d never work again if he got his teeth fixed.) Who cares if Kirstie Alley’s weight is fluctuating? or Jennifer Love Hewitt’s? or anyone else’s, for that matter?

Am I perfect? No. There are still days when I judge people for their appearances, but when I read about some of the selfless things people do, I can’t help but try to be a better person.

Too Long; Didn’t Read?

First off, this is not too long, so go back and read it all.

Second, you shouldn’t need these lessons.

Third, it’s great to be reminded of the facts that we shouldn’t squander our talents and that we should always be looking to help people out—whether that means volunteering for disaster relief or offering some encouraging words to someone who needs them.

Author Bio: Candice Harding enjoys writing about the great products and technology she finds online. When she’s away from the computer, she loves riding her bike and exploring the outdoors. She scours the Internet for quality deals to publish on her website,

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