Hello everybody, welcome back to Common Culture! Today I want to talk about Shia LaBeouf. Most of the Shia-related buzz died away around February, but I still can’t get Shia LaBeouf off my mind. When I wake up, I think of Shia LaBeouf. Before I go to sleep, I think of Shia LaBeouf. As I dream, I think of Shia LaBeouf.
Okay, not really. But the truth is this guy is so interesting to me. So this blog will be a sort of rudimentary overview, psychoanalysis, and praise-fest of Shia LaBeouf. Get ready.
Firstly, Shia was a Disney Channel star. As a person who grew up on Disney, I am a fan of anyone who has ever been on Disney usually, no matter where they end up. We grew up together, so I support them. I know how hard it is to be a kid and a teen, and it can’t be easy to do that in the spotlight.
My true love for Shia LaBeouf didn’t even really start when he was on Disney Channel, however, and it wasn’t during his Transformers-sort-of-real-celebrity time either. My love for Shia truly started after he started to slide back down toward obscurity, because that’s when he started to do the really weird stuff.
For example, here is a really interesting music video that Shia acted in: http://vimeo.com/45185028. It is surprisingly beautiful and artistic, and shows off a lot of Shia’s hidden acting chops. He started getting into arty things like this for a while, and that was a golden time, and then … the breakdown of Shia.
It all started with a plagiarism fiasco involving Shia trying to artistically build off another artist’s work without properly crediting them. Instead of really apologizing, Shia was sort of a jerk about it and danced around it. This made a lot of people angry. In response to people being angry, Shia acted sort of like the world was being mean to him and threw a really artsy temper tantrum.
First, Shia began acting really strangely in public. He wore a bag over his head at a movie premiere that said, “I am not famous anymore.” He seemed to be obviously in some altered state of mind at a press conference, at which he left immediately after the first question, which he answered in a bizarre obscure movie quote from the 1995 movie “Looking for Eric.” He tweeted for a month straight, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” and “I AM SORRY.” He dropped out of all of his planned movie roles. He started skywriting messages over LA.
And that is not my favorite Shia stunt so far. In February, Shia opened his own art installation in LA. He allowed people, one at a time, to enter a room where he sat behind a table with the “I am not famous anymore” bag on his head and he stared at them. Just stared at them. A lot of people cited the performance art piece as quite a moving experience, where oftentimes, Shia and the person emotionally connected. A lot of tears were shed. It was a very touching and peculiar experience.
A lot of questions have been asked of why Shia is doing all this. Some say Shia just feels really bad about the plagiarism issue and wanted to show that he felt guilty and apologetic, and even went so far as to apologize face-to-face with people. However, I am more of the opinion that Shia didn’t like all the heat he was getting for it and so he decided, “Hey, you want me to apologize? I’ll apologize. I’ll apologize so much and so ridiculously that you won’t even remember the plagiarism thing.” And to be honest, I think it worked. There might be some backlash about how Shia is acting childish—he did something bad and is going about dealing with the consequences entirely wrong. However, I don’t really care. What I do care about is what he’s going to do next. I think it’s entirely interesting. I can’t remember the last time a celebrity opened a face-to-face art installation where they cried in front of tons of people, one at a time.
There’s the possibility that Shia has grown up and is opening himself up to different forms of art and expression. If that’s it, I am a fan and can’t wait to see what his next move is. However, there’s also the possibility that the public shaming has really got to Shia, not to mention growing up in the spotlight, the years of working in the industry like an adult, or the pressure of being at the forefront of media. There is speculation that Shia is in the midst of a nervous breakdown and all of these weird behaviors are further signs of his mental instability. Different pop culture sites declare that whenever he’s been seen in public, Shia appears to be in various states of not good.
If this is the case, I am worried for him. I would never want to watch him dance like a monkey through some sort of personal crisis. If he is unwell, I certainly hope he gets the help he needs and can stabilize himself. However, I have a feeling Shia is just the kind of guy who gives the people exactly what they don’t want and keeps them on their toes. And that’s the kind of celebrity I want to watch.