Which narrative do you prefer?
1. Shia LaBeouf, a former Disney child actor whose career has been dominated by consumerist bosses (Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: The Game…), finally rebels. He wants to be treated like an artist, so he starts taking roles in black romances (Charlie Countryman) and so-called erotic epics (Nymphomaniac, Vol. 1 and 2.) He also begins to plagiarize fellow artists every way possible—on Twitter, with short films, with sky writing—and gets called out for it. In defense of his actions, LaBeouf justifies his Twitter feed as “meta-modernist performance art,” a commentary on how all art has become “either plagiarism or revolution.” He then announces “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” (daily…on Twitter) and wears a paper bag over his head at film premieres.
For his final(?) act, he stages a performance art piece in a Los Angeles gallery called #IAMSORRY that’s more than reminiscent of Marina Abramović‘s The Artist Is Present. Visitors are escorted into a room, one at a time, and seated across a table from LaBeouf. The actor wears that stylish paper bag over his head, with the words “I Am Not Famous Anymore” scrawled on it in black marker, and peers out through two eye holes. Some bloggers report having a staring contest with LaBeouf that leaves him teary; others say he actually cries, turning his paper shelter soggy. He never speaks.
It’s possible that, by the end of his week-long performance, LaBeouf will rival actor Joaquin Phoenix in “actions that dupe Hollywood” — that his plagiarizing was all purposeful, the “I Am Not Famous” stunt just another round of discourse on the superficiality of celebrity. More people will go see his movies because of it. In Twitter speak, he’ll basically conclude: “#IAMSORRY #NOTSORRY.”
2. Shia LaBeouf is taking a TON of drugs.