Shia LaBeouf: A Rejection of Hollywood’s ‘Diva’ Culture Personified

“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.

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15 thoughts on “Shia LaBeouf: A Rejection of Hollywood’s ‘Diva’ Culture Personified

    1. It isn’t a 29 minute motivational speech, but rather numerous separate monologues written for his interpretation as part of a college art project, the “Just do it” segment is but one of many non-related pieces.

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  1. We live in a weird time where we elevate celebrities to deity status yet monitor them constantly for perceived flaws or mistakes. We also have a weird relationship with mental illness – there’s a lot of lip service paid but eccentric behaviour still garners all kinds of labels that aren’t kind or conscientious. We used to believe that artists were meant to exhibit eccentricities and now we can’t wait to mock them for it – while still consuming and devouring every minute of it. I never know what to make of it, but always end up feeling rather sorry for any celebrity who gets caught up in it, even if it’s largely their own making. I think you’ve got something with this diva culture,, where we kind of demand it and then vilify it all at once. What does that say about our culture?

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    1. I’m with you, I also feel sorry for a lot of what gets garnered as ‘crazy’ because it doesn’t fit convention. The digital age says a lot of disgusting things about our culture. Until we can learn to embrace it and harness its potential it will continually be used to scorn by an anonymous majority who have no obligation to answer for their opinion.

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  2. What a wonderful post Jim! Makes a change to hear someone talk fairly and rationally about this guy.

    I agree with you actually. And I think he’s a brilliant actor as well. I remember Even Stevens (!) really well and his comic timing and the way he delivered lines was in a way well above his years. He’s obviously a highly talented and studious guy. Not many kids even transition into adult actors and he’s already been in some pretty high brow stuff and worked with some good directors (AFTER Transformers…..haha!)

    Everyone is different. Plenty of people do worse things than be ‘a bit weird’. I agree the internet has made things worse, people can’t do anything without getting noticed and judged. Constant f*cking judgements!!!!! (I hate that!!!) Live and let live is my motto.

    Save the hatred for the serial killers maybe?

    Oh and – “and it’ll all blow over like a zombie apocalypse in North London.” – now that’s gotta be a Shaun of the Dead reference? :)

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    1. Thanks Emma, you’re a rockstar for dropping by so often! I read somewhere that he actually started out his career, maybe after Even Stevens, as a comic doing stand up in cafés and what not which definitely comes through in his acting and interviews. Yeah after Transformers, Michael Bay can do one! The internet can be a monster in the wrong hands and unfortunately nearly everyone has access to it so it’s not a problem we’re likely to overcome soon if ever! You betcha :)

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      1. The pleasure is mine, your posts are so interesting! (and I always end up agreeing!!) you’re most welcome.

        That’s great! I had no idea, but he was hilarious in Even Stevens (and Holes!) he certainly always had something special about him.

        When ‘seasoned’, classic actors do pretentious stuff or method acting etc no-one cares, Shia probably gets some of his abuse just because he’s young.

        I hate online nastiness, it’s easy to be a ‘big man’ sitting anonymous at your PC screen isn’t it!

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  3. Watch the movie “Starry Eyes”. Although a fictional indie horror film, it shines a light on things that go on in the industry, which would explain why so many of these celebrities have such bizarre behaviors and breakdowns at times.

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  4. Excellent, well-thought-out post! Shia never seemed like the most eccentric of personalities to me, so I don’t know why he’s being singled out lately. I think singers are even worse than actors in pushing the boundaries of acceptability and convention in order to stay in the headlines. Like Jay said, I tend to pity those stars who feel that celebrity is a title they have to earn through odd behavior rather than talented work.

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