The clickbait got me. I like to think that I’m above all this noise, but every now and again something so artlessly pathetic crosses my awareness that, like a hungry jackal, I delight in the prospect of tearing it to shreds. And since no one does “artlessly pathetic” quite like Matthew Perry, here we are.
I think, at this remove, that we can all agree that Friends a) was not as funny as we wanted it to be, and b) overstayed its welcome. There was a time, early on, when it was directly in sync with the mood and the aspirations of the generation it was written for, or at least the subsection of that generation that LA TV writers felt they understood (was it shot in LA or NY? Forget it, I don’t care). It quickly devolved into soap-opera shenanigans and vanishing babies, and it ended neither with a bang, nor a whimper, but an overproductive fart. Zoomers watch it on streaming/syndication for the same reason we watched Good Times: poking around in the bones of dead eras spares you the bother of confronting the lurking dreads of your own time. Prophylactic nostalgia isn’t just for Milennials.
In any case, Variety wants me to know that Matthew Perry is publishing a memoir. In fact, they want me to know it so bad, that they’re leading with Matthew Perry slagging Keanu Reeves in it, in the hopes that Keanu Reeves fanboys, who revere him like he walked on water, shot Russian drones out of the sky with his Mind, and wrote the script to Morbius, will rage and rage at the only Friends cast-member who had the honesty to get as fat and sad as the show did. This is how advertising works in the Social Media age. It’s why Rings of Power was such a hit.
In any case, here’s the meat:
At two points in the memoir, Perry questions why Reeves is still alive when “talented” actors and “original thinkers” like River Phoenix and Chris Farley had tragic deaths.
“The list of geniuses who were ahead of their time is too long to detail here — suffice to say, near the top of any such list should be my costar in ‘A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon,’ River Phoenix,” Perry writes.“Please Please Take This Seriously” -Variety.com
Because when I want to discuss geniuses, and to have them listed, I go to Matthew Perry, star of Some Fucking Movie I Don’t Feel Like Googling, But Which Is Probably Getting a New Blu-Ray Release And/Or Residency on Netflix.
But Perry isn’t just the only ostensibly heterosexual male still pining for Pinch-Face Harrison Ford, he’s also enraged by the existence of people who are not River Phoenix:
Perry continues later on, “River was a beautiful man, inside and out — too beautiful for this world, it turned out. It always seems to be the really talented guys who go down. Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us? River was a better actor than me; I was funnier. But I certainly held my own in our scenes — no small feat, when I look back decades later.”“We Did a Journalism” -Variety.com
You know, I might actually read a Matthew Perry memoir if he cut the shit, mined the sex, drugs, and madness that was NBC in the 90’s for the lulz, and laughed at himself like a good comic should. Instead, the shmuck still thinks he’s an AcToR, and wants us to believe that his performance in A Night in the Bowels of IMDB was only denied a Palms d’Or at Cannes because Weinstein was busy servicing other clients. As America’s most lucid and least corrupt public servant once said, Come on, man.
Also, are we done yet with the “too good for this world” applesauce? River of the Phoenixes isn’t’ dead because his soul attained moksha. He wasn’t brought the speedball that killed him by an angel on a fiery chariot. Fucking with your body’s neurochemical balance for giggles ends one of two ways. Matthew Perry had the good sense to pick one way. Now he’s mad about it, the nerd.
Keanu Reeves is cited again when Perry writes about the death of comedian Chris Farley. “His disease had progressed faster than mine had. (Plus, I had a healthy fear of the word ‘heroin,’ a fear we did not share),” Perry writes. “I punched a hole through Jennifer Aniston’s dressing room wall when I found out. Keanu Reeves walks among us. I had to promote ‘Almost Heroes’ two weeks after he died; I found myself publicly discussing his death from drugs and alcohol. I was high the entire time.”“9/11 is Our Fault” – Variety.com
Not that I would be so cynical as to assume creative editing on the part of the good people at Flatiron/Macmillan, but does anyone else think that second “Keanu Reeves walks among us” kinda sticks out like an inflamed baboon hinder? Do you notice how it’s relevant to nothing that comes before, or after it? Why it’s almost like someone stuck it there, just to remind us of the previous swipe, which it repeats verbatim. You see, if you slag Keanu Reeves once, in passing, people shrug their shoulders and move on. But if you do it twice, then that’s a trend, and clickbait farmers like Zack Sharf can write glorified press releases on it, and the animatronic clowns on Entertainment Tonight can banter about it in between segments on the YouTube Streamy Awards and whichever Kardashian is currently not in therapy.
What’s the word for this? Advotainment? Journo-commerce? Pathetic Shilling?
Whatever it is, we’ll be there for you. “Cause you’re there for us, too.