“You seem to have gone crazy since the last time I saw you.” – Jimmy Kimmel
In October 2014 Shia LaBeouf appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Apparently appearing on talk shows after suffering an “existential crisis” has become a rite of passage for actors, entertainers, and celebrities looking to reevaluate their life and start afresh, put their past behind them and move on. Subtract the romanticism and what you are usually left with is a pitiful attempt at rehabilitation that merely appeases the social media hoardes from tweeting something nasty.
I’m an optimist at heart and am open to the belief that people can change for the better but I don’t believe that Shia LaBeouf is in need of a change. His eccentricity should be embraced, not chastised.
Sure, you can’t go around spitting on cops or advocate blatant plagiarism, that’s a given, but the question we should be asking isn’t ‘What the hell happened to Shia LaBeouf?” it’s “What sort of system fosters this behaviour until it becomes the norm?” By norm I don’t mean acceptable. ‘Diva Culture’ spawned out of an ill-conceived and misplaced generalised understanding that normal rules don’t apply to celebrities. In the present day it has become inevitable that ‘outlandish’ behaviour will get caught on camera. Never fear, lay low for a few days. Take the blows as they come. Ignore Twitter for a week and it’ll all blowover like a zombie apocalypse in North London.
This cycle occurs on a daily basis and entertainment writers make a living documenting the private lives of our most beloved celebrities, from movie stars and pop stars to NBA All-stars.
In today’s digital age their is a wealth of information, of opinion, of justification, and castigation. Existing within these ever expansive walls of creative consciousness, subjectivity reigns supreme and rules with an iron fist. No matter what is said whether it fact or fiction internet forums, comment feeds, blogrolls and social media platofrms are alive with incessant debate, even spawning such internate adages as Godwin’s Law.
Shia LaBeouf’s eccentricity is captivating. From his most recent outing in a misadvertised ‘motivational speech’ to his early work in Disney’s Even Stevens Shia has been entertaining audiences with his spark of quirk that baffles and pleases precisely because we’ve come to expect something extravagant from him. If anybody else were to attempt to fulfil his shoes they’d be shot down in a whirlwind of rhetoric spouting ‘ersatz’ and ‘rip-off’.
Satrring in Rob Cantor’s masterful artistic performance narrating Shia’s alter-ego as a cannibal simply titled ‘Shia LaBeouf’ he can be seen in attendance. He directed a short film titled ‘Maniac’, taking inspiration from and starring Kid Cudi. He dabbled in performance art and modern dance for the music video for Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’. And yet, despite his alluring accolades, sense of humour, charisma and understanding of human emotion his actions are still discredited as nonsensical pleas for attention.
People disregard his performance in Fury because it came at a time when he was very much in the media spotlight for supposedly the wrong reasons. But he shone above Brad Pitt and the supporting cast because he is a magnificent actor. His rejection of ‘Diva Culture’ is arguable, the paper bag incident hasn’t helped is case. But Shia LaBeouf consistently rejects a system that attempts to hold him back, to deter him from the abnormal, the extraordinary and bizarre.
The unfortunate disease that plagues celebrity status is constant media attention, skewed to fit a generalised opinion which in turn causes an expected, ‘acceptable’ reaction from the reader. Revisit his ‘controversial’ episodes and don’t react with the expected scorn or childish sally, instead ask yourself, why? Shia LaBeouf represents a microcosm for the ever growing popularity of victimising the misunderstood and the effect it has on public opinion.
Even ‘The Daily Telegraph’ refuses to ask the bigger questions. Instead jumping on the bandwagon and bandying rhetoric that will sell papers rather than educate and inspire academic engagement. By spouting a recognisable headline…
"Shia LaBeouf's most bizarre moments: a timeline"
…the ‘Telegraph’ is merely appeasing public interest until it no longer becomes newsworthy. By avoiding the bigger picture and leaving the burning questions unanswered will we see a continuation of collective ignorance to the known, yet, ignored intimacies of the lives of those in front of the camera? When “Cut” is called and the lights go down ‘our’ superstars are human afterall.