The Art of Shia LaBeouf

So Shia LaBeouf did another thing. No, he didn’t have another run-in with the law (this time around, at least). No, he didn’t put another paper bag on his head (this time around, at least). No, he didn’t let strangers sit across from him at a table (this time around he let strangers sit next to him, at least). America’s favorite actor named Shia kicked off his latest stunt last week, called #AllMyMovies, a three-day experimental performance art installation in which he sat and watched all his films in reverse chronological order for 72 hours straight – more or less – and invited fans to watch them with him. Basically Shia binge-watched himself nonstop for three days.

But the best part about this was the livestream available on the project’s website, which had a camera directly on Shia the entire time. The caveat was that there was no sound, so you couldn’t hear if he said anything outloud, or know which point in the movie they were in. There was a schedule available online as to the start time and list of movies playing (as I found out from a number of #AllMyMovies followers after rhetorically inquiring on Twitter), so plenty of folks at home, with no time on their hands apparently, could sync up with Shia.

I decided to see what all the fuss was all about and logged in to the site, partly because I was curious, and partly because I have a severe case of pop culture FOMO. This is what I saw:

Legit. This is what one would see if they went to the live stream. After I realized nothing was wrong with my computer and there really wasn’t any sound, I started losing interest. Maybe it was because he was in New York and it was like 3am his time and he was catatonic anyways, or maybe he didn’t care for the movie. I didn’t even know what movie he was watching at that point, so like, who cared? But then I searched the hashtag on Twitter, and that led to a whole other world, and it all started making sense.

The dedicated fans who had stayed up into the wee hours of the morning had been following Shia since the beginning. Since Shia was the only static person in frame, they started to pick up the minutia of everything else around him, i.e. the fans in the visible background.

At one point during my viewing, there was a dude behind Shia that looked like Josh Peck. A blurry Josh Peck, which led to me researching if it was actually Josh Peck – it wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t a fair share of “celebrities” in the audience. By celebrities, I mean the folks around Shia who got nicknamed by the Internet. There was Glasses Girls 1 & 2 during Constantine and The Greatest Game Ever Played, Kurt Fauxbain and Jack Sparrow in front of him at Surf’s Up and Hat Girl, who even scored a parody Twitter account. And her Hat got an account too. The Internet, man.

According to multiple #AllMyMovies-goers, video and photography was strictly prohibited inside the theater, and if fans had gifts, they had to give it to someone else who would relay the items to Shia. There were some people that decided to act like a true fan and ask for a pic with him:

Or act like a normal human and congratulate him on his excellent scene:

or casually offer candy:

*a staff member at the Angelika said Shia went through 15 bags of Sour Patch Kids during his 3-day stay!*

Then you have that one person who fucks it up and legit causes you second-hand embarrassment even though you know it’s inevitable:

Aside from the fans, watching Shia’s reaction to watching himself was hard to take your eyes off of. Here are just a few choice reactions from his marathon:

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Transformers: Dark Side of The Moon

*He basically hated all the Transformers films. At one point he even goes into the aisle and lays down to take a nap.

Holes

The Even Stevens Movie

It’s worth noting that this FREE performance art piece has apparently been in the works for a year, so it’s not some paper bag type gimmick that he decided to do on a whim. In fact, a Twitter user noted that after Shia got arrested in Texas last month, he had tweeted his first line to every one of his movies sequentially, a move that obviously shows he had at least some thought into it. He even wrote on the wall of the Angelika thanking them for hosting the “crazy” marathon, proving he’s aware that the concept of watching all his films and capturing his response is insane.

But like any type of art, it’s totally objective. I don’t necessarily *get* performance art, but I understand it enough to consider it art. In this particular case, a number of reasons could make the case for Shia’s binge-watch as “real art”. Through the literal lens of the camera directly facing Shia, we see a number of reactions from the actor and the people around him. It shows the psychology of human interaction in an unlikely setting, their response to celebrity, the mere fact staying awake for lengthy periods of time can change your mental state. The same goes for Shia. I’m assuming he intended to view his movies in reverse knowing full well he’d be loopy by the time he reached the point where he was a child actor. As seen above, he seemed to be the most content and happy while watching Surf’s Up and The Even Stevens Movie (watch him watch it synced with the actual film. Cinnamon roll.) – albeit both are classified as kids’ films – one has to wonder if the reason he’s emitting so much joy is to show that he’s just like us – he sometimes longs for the days of innocence and finds comfort in a show like Evens Stevens, which helped him become a star and occurred during some of the most important developmental years of his life. Then there’s the whole fascination of watching Shia watch a screen for hours on end. Like I said, I fell victim to the FOMO, but it’s interesting to see how involved and passionate they get with something as simple as a livestream of a dude in a dark theater.

So, it goes back to this – what’s the point of this charade? Are we supposed to look inward and reflect on what it would be like for us to relive moments of our lives on the big screen with strangers for three days? Or does this put another notch on Shia’s “egotistical” nature? That here he is, doing a performance art piece, seeing his career as an actor in reverse, and perhaps he’s searching for what made him fall in love with acting in the first place? To watch his bizarre rise and fall in the industry? To show just how odd the idea of fame is in general? We might never know unless Shia explains it point blank to us, but to be honest, we don’t need that. We need to respect his desire to keep creating art that fulfills him. As long as he’s not hurting anyone in the process,  who cares? We’re talking about it now, aren’t we? And maybe that’s what he wanted all along.

shia

Shia LaBeouf: Pulling a Joaquin Phoenix or Amanda Bynes?

Last week, we were reminded that Shia LaBeouf may have lost his damn mind. In case you hadn’t heard, Louis Stevens attended Thursday’s performance of Cabaret on Broadway, but he wasn’t able to see how it ended since he was escorted out of the theater by police, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Earlier in the day, he was spotted chasing down a homeless man (more on that later), and this was just in a day’s work. This past year, he’s been doing a lot of crazy things, so one must ask – is this real or all for show?

Two cases we can look at are the Joaquin Phoenix complex and the Amanda Bynes complex.

Joaquin Phoenix

In late 2008, Joaquin announced he was retiring from acting in order to focus on his music career, which, okay a lot of actors do. But JP wanted to become a rapper. Like a legit hip-hop star. He started appearing in public with the long hair and scruffy beard, as seen above, and had a series of super odd appearances, including the infamous David Letterman interview in 2009.

In 2010, the film I’m Still Here by actor/director Casey Affleck (and JP’s brother-in-law) debuted at the Venice Film Festival. It wasn’t until after the movie was released that Casey revealed that JP had gone through two years of this performance art as an uber Joaquin Phoenix and it was all for the sake of the movie. That’s right kids, JP hadn’t actually lost his mind.

Amanda Bynes

Amanda’s fall from fame began around 2012, when she was arrested and charged for a DUI. That same year, she was charged for two alleged hit and run incidents, which were later dismissed after reaching a settlement with the victims. Her license was suspended, but was caught and cited for driving on it and had her car impounded.

In 2013, she was arrested for criminal possession of marijuana, attempted tampering with evidence, and reckless endangerment after she threw a bong out the window of her 36th floor apartment in Manhattan (which she insisted was a vase).  That summer in California, Bynes allegedly started a small fire in the driveway of some person’s house and was hospitalized and put under a 3 day mental health evaluation hold. She was later transferred to a “specialized treatment in a private facility” outside of Los Angeles and in December, she was released to her parents, who were granted a temporary conservatorship over her.

She now takes classes at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA (aka the same school Lauren Conrad went to).

Alright, with this information, let’s take a look at a timeline of Shia LaBeouf’s troubles over the past year, and try to determine if he’s more of a Phoenix or Bynes…

February 2013: LaBeouf’s Broadway Beef with Baldwin

Shia was due to star alongside Alec Baldwin and Tom Sturridge in the play Orphans, making his Broadway debut. However shortly into rehearsals and weeks before previews were to begin, the producers announced that Shia was leaving the show “due to creative differences”, but rumors swirled that Shia had a dramatic bust-up with Alec, thus leading to his firing.

Ben Foster ultimately replaced him, but Shia didn’t go down with a fight. That same day, he posted his audition for the show on his Twitter (the vid has since been taken down). Two days later, he returned with a screenshot of an email from the show’s director, who wrote, “I’m too old for disagreeable situations. You’re one hell of a great actor. Alec is who he is. You are who you are. You two are incompatible. I should have known it.”

In the e-mail between Shia and Alec, Shia seemingly apologizes, Alec accepts, and Shia wishes him good luck on the show.

Shia even posted an e-mail from Tom Sturridge saying what an honor it was to work with him in the brief time they had together. Shia continued talking about theatre/the craft on Twitter:

the theater belongs not to the great but to the brash. acting is not for gentlemen, or bureaucratic-academics. what they do is antiart. actors used to be buried with a stake through the heart. those peoples performances so troubled on-lookers that they feared their ghosts. those actors moved the audience not such that they were admitted to graduate school, or recieved a complimentary review. but such that the audience feared for their soul. now that seems to me something to aim for. invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school.

What’s interesting about this is that Shia’s “apology” is eerily similar to that from an Esquire article from 2009 by Tom Chiarella called “What is a Man”.  Take note of this.

December 2013: Plagiarism Accusations

Shia debuted his first project as a director online with a short film on HowardCantour.com. Except the only problem was that his directing debut was exactly the same as author Daniel Clowes’ 2007 graphic novella called “Justin M. Damiano”. Like same dialogue, visuals – everything was the same.

But Shia, thinking another apology would clear it all up, yet again took to Twitter and said:

Oh yeah, he plagiarized the apology AGAIN – but decided Yahoo! Answers was the way to go this time? Legit copied and pasted some rando talking about plagiarism.

Later in December, it was revealed that comic books Shia wrote in 2012 were ALSO a rip off from text from authors Charles Bukowski and a French writer named Benoit Duteurtre, and his mea culpa on Twitter came in the form of this:

^^ Tiger Woods’ apology for cheating^^

^^ Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara about the execution of the Vietnam War, as written in his memoir. ^^

Not to mention his apologies in the form of Kanye, Shepard Fairey and Mark Zuckerberg.

January 2014: Sky High Apologies

In addition to his Twitter “apology”, Shia made a grander gesture to the graphic novelist by hiring a skywriter over Los Angeles to write “I am sorry Daniel Clowes”

February 2014: I Am Not Famous Anymore

Shia attends the Berlin Film Festival for his new film Nymphomaniac (which is weird enough on its own). During the press conference, a reporter asked him about all the sex scenes in the movie and Shia oddly quoted a famous French soccer player Eric Cantona, and said, “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea,” then just up and left.

Later that night, he returned to promote the film on the red carpet – but wore this accessory that hasn’t exactly become a trend since.

A few days later, back in Los Angeles, Shia opened up his own art exhibit called #IAMSORRY, which again, was extremely similar to artist Marina Abramovic’s famous 2010 installation/documentary “The Artist is Present” at the MoMa in New York, where she sat at a table and visitors could sit across from her and just stare at each other.

In Shia’s version, visitors entered the space and were asked to pick an item off a table, including a “leather whip, a pair of pliers, a vase of daisies, an Optimus Prime Transformer toy, a bowl of Hershey’s kisses, a bowl of folded slips of paper containing tweets about LaBeouf, a large bottle of Jack Daniels, a small bottle of Brut cologne, a pink ukulele, and the graphic novel The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes,” according to Buzzfeed.

In the next room was Shia, sitting at a table, weawring a tux and paper bag over his head just like the one at the Berlin Film Festival. The visitor would then sit across from him and according to most reports, he would just sit there, but some lucky folks were able to get him to take the bag off or get a handshake.

True story: this art exhibit was not that far from my office, and I drove past it but was too scared/didn’t want to wait in line to go in! I’m not good with eye contact anyways.

Photo Feb 14, 9 18 23 PM

June 2014

It had been a while since Shia had caused a stir – mainly because he was off filming a movie with Brad Pitt in Europe, and Mrs. Jolie was probs setting him straight over there. But then we were all reminded last week that Shia Shenans is alive and well.

Before his Cabaret incident, Shia began loading up on margaritas while watching the World Cup at a bar in NYC late Thursday afternoon. By 5pm, he was outside another bar, chatting people up and taking pix/videos with people on the sidewalk.

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Ma nigga ma nigga #ShiaLabeouf

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And then… Shia allegedly chased down a homeless man in Times Square for a bag of McDonald’s… you can view the bizzare video here.

As if that activity wasn’t enough for one day, Shia went to see Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming in Cabaret, which takes place at the Studio 54 theater. Because it’s supposed to feel like a – cabaret – the set up isn’t like a traditional theater, and the actors, including MC Alan Cumming, go through the audience during their performance. According to eyewitnesses, Shia was smoking a joint and slapping Alan on the ass as he walked by. He also apparently was yelling lewd things to the Kit Kat Girls on stage, and during Michelle’s solo, he was dropping bottles and falling out of his chair.

Once the police had him in custody, he was yelling a bunch of “Fuck yous!” and calling them the F word, screaming, “This is fucking bullshit. Do you know my life? Do you know who the fuck I am? Do you know who I am?” Oh lawd.

Shia spent the night in jail and on Friday, he came before a judge and was officially charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and harassment.

♦  ♦  ♦

So, here we are, folks. On a scale of Joaquin Phoenix to Amanda Bynes, just how crazy has Shia become? While we can just make assumptions as mere bystanders, my best guess is that it’s leaning more towards a Joaquin than anything. The fact that he keeps using plagiarized apologies, that he seemed completely normal to fans on the street last week – it all seems more calculated than mere insanity. But who knows, he fooled me when he played a mentally challenged kid in the classic DCOM Tru Confessions. What do I know? Actually – here’s what I do know. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a secret documentary or he clearly needs professional help:

Get it together, Holes.