Jim Carrey gave a brief interview to E! at the Harper’s Bazaar ICONS party last Friday night where he posed existential questions to the interviewer while circling her like a shark. It went viral immediately.
“I’ve covered a lot of fashion weeks and this is the first time I’ve run into Jim Carrey,” reporter Catt Sadler remarks as she and Carrey dance around each other on the red carpet.
Carrey doesn’t waste time with small talk. “I wanted to find the most meaningless thing that I could come to and join, and here I am,” he says. “I mean you’ve gotta admit it’s completely meaningless.”
Sadler looks shocked but tries to cushion the nature of Carrey’s existential comment with explanation: “Well, they say they’re celebrating icons. Do you believe in icons?”
Carrey responds by calling icons the “absolute lowest-aiming possibility we could come up with” for something to celebrate. “I believe that peace lies beyond personality,” he says, “beyond invention and disguise, beyond the red ‘S’ you wear on your chest that makes bullets bounce off. I believe that it’s deeper than that. I believe we’re a field of energy dancing for itself. And uh…I don’t care.”
Sadler asks Carrey why the heck he got all dressed up to come to the event in the first place, and he says matter-of-factly, “I didn’t get dressed up. There is no me.”
That’s when the conversation takes a turn. Sadler asks/states, “So what’s happening in our world right now? There is a lot of news that actually is relevant but is not that uplifting.”
Carrey’s reply: “Here’s the thing — it’s not our world.” He mumbles something else about how “we don’t matter,” pats Sadler on the shoulders and walks away, bringing the interaction to an abrupt end.
As this strange clip circulated around the internet over the past few days, it sparked commentary on social media about Carrey’s experience with depression, which he has spoken about openly. Some suggested his nihilistic remarks about the meaninglessness of a fashion week party might be a byproduct of his mental illness history. However, attributing his observations as such detracts from their validity — because they are valid.
Sadler’s response about the state of the world was, too. There is a lot happening right now, and no, not very much of it is uplifting. The glitzy, warm, glamorous cocoon of fashion week stands in stark contrast against the desolation of national disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, and the lives of those affected by the DACA repeal. In the context of all this turmoil, both natural and man-made, Jim Carrey’s dismissal of a star-studded fashion week party as “meaningless” feels poignantly, painfully accurate.
Vanessa Friedman touched on this uncomfortable disparity in a recent fashion week review for The New York Times: “current events have a way of overshadowing clothes.”
They do indeed cast a shadow, but the shadow is not opaque. The glitz of fashion week still shines through, maybe not as brightly as it used to, but nonetheless it wins our attention spans and calendars and Instagram feeds. Sometimes enjoying it feels wrong. Sometimes enjoying it feels necessary — a momentary reprieve for the sake of our sanities. Most of the time, it feels both wrong and necessary simultaneously. This contradiction is the crux of our unease: there is no clear blueprint for how to act.
Perhaps Carrey’s interview is going viral because he’s saying what many of those in attendance are thinking, while at the same time doing the very things that perpetuate his feeling of pointlessness: putting in effort, getting dressed, going to the party. This dichotomy is exactly the rub we all experience; we see the problem, find ourselves caught in the perpetuation of it (in Vanessa Friedman’s case, she still has to attend shows for her job despite calling out what she finds to be so wrong about them) and yet, we can’t see the solution. So we grasp.
What do you think: Does it count as a step forward to voice these kinds of concerns, or are they meaningless without some sort of stance or action?
Photo by J. Countess/WireImage via Getty Images.