Everyone has been passing around Naomi Fry’s essay at The New Yorker this week, The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck, inspired by those shots of him in Hawaii. Or, rather, those shots of his rising phoenix back tattoo in Hawaii. You know the ones. But, just in case you forgot, although I’m not sure how you could, because that tattoo has now made it into the Gossip Smithsonian at this point, have another look:
Naomi’s piece is, to me, about the privilege of middle age white male sadness in that even this gets a storyline, a storyline that is familiar and, therefore, sympathetic… even when you’re laughing at it. Ben Affleck is laughing with it. This morning on Twitter:
@NewYorker I’m doing just fine. Thick skin bolstered by garish tattoos.— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) March 29, 2018
Not bad, right? This tweet is actually Ben Affleck’s best work since… well… it’s been a while. But if he’s willing to laugh with us while we’re laughing at him, it’s a good start. To what? To another one of his comebacks, obviously. That’s what Ben does – he tears himself down to build himself back up. Taking a liability and turning it into an asset is a classic comeback move. The rising phoenix tattoo could be the liability that becomes an asset, not unlike burning to the ground and coming back to life: you make it the joke that you’re willing to wear. And he’s done it before. This is what he did with Daredevil and then with Gigli. As soon as he started owning Daredevil and Gigli, the sting of both of those went away. Next time he’s in front of the media then, I bet you’ll hear a lot from Ben about the phoenix. The phoenix tattoo will get its own press tour.
Here’s Ben kayaking with Lindsay Shookus in Hawaii yesterday, where he’s been shooting Triple Frontier. Earlier this week she was photographed on set with him and they were also papped holding hands. You’ll recall, just last week US Weekly tried to make a story – on the cover! – about how Ben was begging Jennifer Garner to take him back. God I miss the old US Weekly.