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February 16, 2014 10:23 AM   Subscribe

The Legitimizing of Shia LaBeouf... Let the conversation cease: “Shia is a committed, brilliant and fearless artist and will bring that commitment to anything he does. Shia is on a creative journey right now, and I am sure he is pleased with the conversations it is causing.” - David Ayer, Screenwriter.

(Bonus Kenneth Goldsmith video in the FPP! Dig the pink suit!)

Prevous Labeouffary: 1, 2, 3, 4
posted by artof.mulata (178 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Another Bonus Link: Time Magazine Goes To #IAMSORRY!
posted by artof.mulata at 10:25 AM on February 16


WINNING
posted by thelonius at 10:26 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


It's a load of shit, come on.
posted by planetesimal at 10:27 AM on February 16 [15 favorites]


Shit like this makes me so nostalgic for the good old days when it was just Ethan Hawke pretentiously prancing about boring us all to tears with his terrible poetry.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:31 AM on February 16 [23 favorites]


I SHAT MYSELF ON PURPOSE YEAH

JOKE'S ON YOU GUYS ACTUALLY
posted by ominous_paws at 10:31 AM on February 16 [22 favorites]


I'm really going to be happy when the era of "No you see guys I was intentionally being a terrible asshole to spark conversations and you dumb dumbs fell for it by thinking I was actually a terrible asshole" performance art ends.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:34 AM on February 16 [38 favorites]


Yeah, "JOKE'S ON YOU GUYS ACTUALLY" is a nice, pithy summary of everything I hate about contemporary culture's opinion of sincere interpersonal engagement.
posted by penduluum at 10:37 AM on February 16 [18 favorites]


I'm sure that Ayer's comments on Shia LaBeouf have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that LaBeouf is in Ayer's upcoming movie. He is certainly just making these comments from the depths of his heart! /hamburger

As a bonus, Jerry O'Connell is trolling The Beef super-hard right now and it is very funny. (Apologies for linking to Buzzfeed - for once it seems to actually be a primary source.)
posted by Frobenius Twist at 10:42 AM on February 16 [15 favorites]


I'm really going to be happy when the era of "No you see guys I was intentionally being a terrible asshole to spark conversations and you dumb dumbs fell for it by thinking I was actually a terrible asshole" performance art ends.

I've always felt that was Andy Kaufman's whole thing, and was never as impressed with it like others seem to be, and every one else who does this sort of thing comes off even worse to me.
posted by usagizero at 10:43 AM on February 16 [23 favorites]


he's young
posted by philip-random at 10:45 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Well, let it never be said that David Ayer doesn't know how to tell a joke.
posted by kafziel at 10:48 AM on February 16


Visitors are asked to pick up one of an assortment of objects (including a bullwhip and a pink ukelele), and then step behind a black curtain. They then have the opportunity to interact with both the object and a seated LaBeouf, who wears a suit and paper bag reading, “I am not famous anymore,” over his head.

Back when I was a musician, I knew a guy who was a music critic. Most music critics are hacks and wannabes, and indeed this guy wasn't any kind of musician himself, but he really knew his stuff. He was a legitimate expert. His observations were insightful. His reviews weren't co-authored by Roget's or drowning in adverbs. I had the utmost respect for his opinions even when I disagreed.

This guy swore Yoko Ono's music was valuable. And I thought to myself, I hear value in David S. Ware and Briggan Krauss and I have literally no way to explain that to my dad, so okay, maybe that's what's going on here. When it comes to Yoko Ono, I am my dad. I can't hear it but this guy swears it's there, and he knows his stuff, so alright.

That's how I try to feel about this kind of performance art. My honest, gut reaction is difficulty keeping a straight face, let alone giving it any kind of substantive consideration. He's wearing a paper bag over his head that says, "I am not famous anymore"? What the actual fuck. But people swear by this stuff. They enjoy it, it sparks and stokes their conversations, and it doesn't hurt anybody. So, okay. This will just be one of those facets of life that passes me by.
posted by cribcage at 10:48 AM on February 16 [13 favorites]


No but what you don't understand is that Yoko Ono is an actual artist.

Shia LeBoeuf is just a spoiled child.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 AM on February 16 [46 favorites]


I think it was John Roderick who said that anyone who becomes hugely famous before the age of 27 is fucked forever because they never learned how to be a human being.
posted by gwint at 10:54 AM on February 16 [17 favorites]


I'm really going to be happy when the era of "No you see guys I was intentionally being a terrible asshole to spark conversations and you dumb dumbs fell for it by thinking I was actually a terrible asshole" performance art ends.

Ugh, yes, very much so. This is actually a lot of my problem with people like Sacha Baron Cohen; he puts people in impossible and unfair situations and then laughs at them for not responding appropriately, but sometimes there's not actually an okay response and I wonder "what could they possibly have done in this situation that he wouldn't have mocked?"

People running around and being like "Praise me, I'm chaotic neutral!" is not art, it's just being an attention seeking dick.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:55 AM on February 16 [50 favorites]


No but what you don't understand is that Yoko Ono is an actual artist.

Shia LeBoeuf is just a spoiled child.

I think this is it exactly. LaBeouf is a frat boy who, to be slightly generous to him, has hit on a novel way of trying to legitimize his popped-collar dudebro assholery by playing it off as "art." It's not fair to judge contemporary art based on what this broseph is doing. And I don't think youth is an excuse - just look at how many stupid fights The Beef has gotten into over the last few years. That's not par for the course for people his age; he's just a gigantic toolshed.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 10:59 AM on February 16 [11 favorites]


At first, I thought he was in the throes of a public breakdown which triggered all my LOOK AWAY reflexes. The longer it goes on, the more convinced I am he's just trolling, which SHUT UP FOREVER, SHIA, GOD.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:01 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


(The Kenny G./Colbert interview in the middle of the TIME magazine article is pretty good. Colbert, half in-character, half not, lets Kenny G. describe his work and then Colbert engages morally with it. I wish it had gone on longer.)
posted by benito.strauss at 11:01 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


This is actually a lot of my problem with people like Sacha Baron Cohen; he puts people in impossible and unfair situations and then laughs at them for not responding appropriately, but sometimes there's not actually an okay response and I wonder "what could they possibly have done in this situation that he wouldn't have mocked?"

Yeah. I've seen one DVD's worth of "Da Ali G Show," and my takeaway was that most of his "victims" reacted with grace to intractable situations... but that that wasn't the reaction I was meant to have. Haven't seen any of his output since.
posted by Shmuel510 at 11:03 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


ominous_paws: "I SHAT MYSELF ON PURPOSE YEAH"

That's Ted Nugent, not Shia LeBeouf.
posted by notsnot at 11:03 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


This is what I think of every time one of these trolls talks about "pretending to be an asshole":
Instead of dingy velveteen he had brown fur, soft and shiny, his ears twitched by themselves, and his whiskers were so long that they brushed the grass. He gave one leap and the joy of using those hind legs was so great that he went springing about the turf on them, jumping sideways and whirling round as the others did, and he grew so excited that when at last he did stop to look for the Fairy she had gone.

He was a Real Rabbit Asshole at last, at home with the other rabbits assholes.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:08 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]


notsnot: "ominous_paws: "I SHAT MYSELF ON PURPOSE YEAH"

That's Ted Nugent, not Shia LeBeouf.
"

Hahaha, I get that reference!
posted by symbioid at 11:10 AM on February 16


Shia's conceptual art is not as bad as Yoko Ono's music. He's pretty competent in the basics.
posted by colie at 11:12 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


As someone upthread noted, Shia is young, and being young and famous and constantly on display to the judgemental masses is hard in its own unique way. Witness the very public meltdowns and mental illness of any number of public figures in his age bracket. I'm all for giving him the benefit of the doubt -- he's just acting out a little, trying to comment on the culture of fame in his own (fairly weird) way. It's not like he crashed his Ferrari in a drunken drag race or anything. Live and let live.
posted by killdevil at 11:13 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


I saw Rebel, James Franco's installation in Los Angeles, which used James Dean's early death (an obvious touchstone, as Franco played Dean) as a jumping off point for an examination of the experience of being young in the film industry, and how hard it is to survive in an environment that glorifies self-destruction while charting no obvious path to successful adulthood -- as demonstrated by the enormous number of child stars for whom work dries up the moment they get older, and who deteriorate into public messes afterward.

Unfortunately, that exhibit had a lot more to say about LaBeouf than LaBeouf has to say about art.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:22 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


Shia can do all the weird attention-getting he wants, as long as he cuts Daniel Clowes a huge, huge check, like he should have done in the first place. And it clears.
posted by KHAAAN! at 11:23 AM on February 16 [17 favorites]


Yoko Ono's music is actually perfectly OK. It's just not in the pop idiom at all.
posted by Sara C. at 11:23 AM on February 16 [13 favorites]


I feel like the entire point of Shia is to answer the question of what if James Franco just had no talent and sucked at life. No one was asking that question, but here we are, I guess.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:25 AM on February 16 [35 favorites]


I didn't mean to create a Yoko Ono derail, but if you're reading my comment as having anything to do with the pop idiom then you may have missed an element or two. You may be able to check out Briggan Krauss on Pandorify or whatever the kids are using to riverstream their music these days.
posted by cribcage at 11:26 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I think this is it exactly. LaBeouf is a frat boy who, to be slightly generous to him, has hit on a novel way of trying to legitimize his popped-collar dudebro assholery by playing it off as "art." It's not fair to judge contemporary art based on what this broseph is doing. And I don't think youth is an excuse - just look at how many stupid fights The Beef has gotten into over the last few years. That's not par for the course for people his age; he's just a gigantic toolshed.

I just....the mind reels. This is well written times about 100. Good on you sir/madam. I only wish there was further ways for me to favorite this, and call it out for being amazing. Seriously, it's perfect.
posted by nevercalm at 11:31 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Shia's conceptual art is not as bad as Yoko Ono's music. He's pretty competent in the basics.

Ono's father was a classical pianist, in her childhood she attended the prestigious Jiyu-gakuen Music School in Japan (the training school for many Japanese composers), she had extensive vocal training in both opera and German art songs, her early mentorship was with composer and musician La Monte Young, and she was married to jazz musician Anthony Cox.

And this was before she became a composing partner and eventually coleader of a band with one of the most famous and important musicians in pop history.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:35 AM on February 16 [36 favorites]


[Let's not get too far off into the weeds of assessing Yoko Ono's merits here?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:39 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sort of further to what Bunny Ultramod said, I'll say that pretty much anytime I see someone say OMG YOKO ONO SUX AMIRITE I assume they have to be speaking out of ignorance.

I don't really like her music, but I appreciate what she's trying to do. I'm fairly certain that she's not bad at music, because I know something of her background and training.

To bring this around to jackasses like Shia LeBoeuf, one thing that drives me crazy about all this is that, for most people, this is what they think contemporary art is. Which really gives art a bad name and makes the world an actually worse place.

And thus makes it harder to appreciate the genius of people like Yoko Ono.
posted by Sara C. at 11:42 AM on February 16 [11 favorites]


while charting no obvious path to successful adulthood -

Didn't we just have a thread about Shirley Temple?
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:43 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Nobody in this thread said that, Sara. Let's move on.
posted by cribcage at 11:43 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


It is useful to remember that when you're not sure what you think about somebody's art, don't assume that they don't know what they are doing. They might know perfectly well what they're doing. That doesn't mean you have to like it or even think they are doing it right, but sometimes, when something seems bad to you, it's because of your own lack of education, and not the person who made the art.

I am pretty familiar with the artists La Beouff references here, however, and I think I can comfortably say that he has a jejune understanding of what they are doing (especially when it comes to plagiarism), seeming to have simply skimmed some articles online, and so doesn't seem to effectively be engaging in artistic dialogue with either the original artists or the public. His work seems more like a temper tantrum that a troubled, immature artist is justifying by dropping in a few footnotes than a meaningful artistic piece in an of itself.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:45 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


I certainly didn't put Yoko Ono down from any kind ZOMG SHE'S SHIT BROKE UP THE BEATLES IN A BAG position - but we've been asked not to derail.
posted by colie at 11:46 AM on February 16


Didn't we just have a thread about Shirley Temple?

Her career as an adult was in politics. But there are successful transitions into adult acting -- and there are programs intended to teach young people how to handle that transition (Stanley Livingston, of my three sons, offers one, as I recall). They don't attract anywhere near the attention as those who fail to transition, though.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:48 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Jerry O'Connell is doing it right. Thanks for that link, Frobenius Twist.
posted by queensissy at 11:54 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl >

Ugh, yes, very much so. This is actually a lot of my problem with people like Sacha Baron Cohen; he puts people in impossible and unfair situations and then laughs at them for not responding appropriately, but sometimes there's not actually an okay response and I wonder "what could they possibly have done in this situation that he wouldn't have mocked?"

People running around and being like "Praise me, I'm chaotic neutral!" is not art, it's just being an attention seeking dick.


This is interesting, because my conception of what SBC is up to differs substantially and yet I can see exactly why someone would think of his schtick as Mrs. Pterodactyl does here.

I like his comedy from the Ali G era to Borat, though I didn't really care for Bruno or The Dictator. I always thought his stuff was funny because he observes that people will respond very seriously to utterly absurd things just because of the social context. If nobody took him seriously, there wouldn't be anything worth mocking in their responses. It's that commitment to taking absurdity seriously by regular people, and by extension implicating a set of social norms that are arbitrarily inflexible about the distinction between seriousness and play, that makes it really funny to me.
posted by clockzero at 11:54 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


I think it's funner to pretend he's sincere about the whole thing because I'm getting real tired of being cynical about everything.
posted by hellojed at 11:54 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


You know how, when a little kid learns the phrase "just kidding", at first they have no idea how to use it? Like they'll haul back and hit you, then say they were kidding. They'll fall off their bikes, then say they're kidding. They'll do or say something completely wrong, get corrected, and then say they were kidding. Having no ability to predict other people's perspectives, they try to cover embarrassing or scold-worthy things by turning them retroactively into jokes.

Yeah, most kids grow out of it, though.
posted by penduluum at 11:58 AM on February 16 [10 favorites]


I believe this aptly summarizes Mr. LaBeouf's performance art.

Presented with thanks to the late B. Kliban.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:59 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


I feel like the entire point of Shia is to answer the question of what if James Franco just had no talent and sucked at life.

I can only think of three movies I've seen that were graced by Mr. LeBeouf. Holes, that awful Indiana Jones thing, and some recent (entirely forgettable) Robert Redford movie ... and in none of them did it occur to me that "this guy can't act". He may be no Lawrence Olivier (or James Franco), I may not care much for his "presence", but he does not stink out the joint the way I've seen someone like Keanu Reeves do way too often.

So yeah, dislike Shia all you wish (and some of the movies he's chosen to make) but calling him a NO TALENT just feels like we're talking sports. That team's players suck because I don't like that team. Meanwhile, they keep making the playoffs.
posted by philip-random at 12:01 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Just because performance art sometimes strikes people as bullshit doesn't mean any bullshit is automatically performance art. Sometimes a jackass is just a jackass.

This is a guy who got called out as a plagiarist, trying to change the subject.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:02 PM on February 16 [15 favorites]


No mention of whether Shia is an actual cannibal.
posted by w0mbat at 12:10 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


he's just a gigantic toolshed

I'm glad I learned this superlative for the insult "tool": one of my favorites. It's too bad that people like LeBeuoff or whatever the fuck don't realize that his fame and fortune are based on a giant pile of luck because I don't see the talent, and as far as I can tell, no one else really does either.
posted by hellslinger at 12:11 PM on February 16


The Kenny G./Colbert interview in the middle of the TIME magazine article is pretty good.

It's very good, and succinctly summarizes the type of thing Shia was apparently trying to do. It's difficult to tell if the "plagiarism" of Clowes was part of it or an excuse for it, but the subsequent statements (themselves plagiarized) certainly were, and there I think he succeeded. It was amusing to see people still going "gotcha!" the second or third time around.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:12 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


So yeah, dislike Shia all you wish (and some of the movies he's chosen to make) but calling him a NO TALENT just feels like we're talking sports.

If Shia LeBouef could just keep showing up and doing the job and being an actor, it would be fine.

I don't think he lacks talent, per se.

I do think he should shut the fuck up and get over himself.
posted by Sara C. at 12:18 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


I don't think he lacks talent, per se.

What about this entire scandal where he tried to get away with plagiarism... ?
posted by hellslinger at 12:22 PM on February 16


Your donations in excess of $12,900 will be used toward erecting a plywood “restraint barricade” around the physical corpus of Shia LeBeouf

From the hilariously inexplicable Maria Abramovic Retirement Fund of America, which describes itself as " an action group dedicated to stopping Marina Abramovic from creating further artworks."
posted by hap_hazard at 12:24 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


... and regarding the performance art angle, I recall a conversation among a couple of friends a few years back.

One was talking about a recent performance he'd seen at a small local gallery where what started as a musical performance turned into an eruption of noise and smashing of various things (including tomatoes). Apparently, it was quite spectacular and really divided the room: the outraged versus the dada-enthusiasts.

The other friend just shrugged and said, "Whatever. Maybe if it was Britney Spears at the Grammys, I'd stoop to being astonished."

So, Shia, if you're paying attention, I say, don't stop. Accelerate! If you really want to create a situation worth discussing, go for the biggest audience you can, and then ...

Fucking astonish me.
posted by philip-random at 12:31 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


What about this entire scandal where he tried to get away with plagiarism... ?

What does that have to do with acting talent?

Again, if he could just continue to show up and do the job of being an actor every day, he'd be fine.

The problem is that he goes around stealing people's work, hiring skywriters, trying to pass himself off as a visual artist, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 12:33 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


hap_hazard, that tumblr is the best thing I've seen all week. Oh my god. I'm just making these terrible 'hurr hurr hurr' noises that are scaring the cat.
posted by dogheart at 12:39 PM on February 16


He's young, good-looking, sought-after... the world is going out of its way to lay success and fame at his feet and he just. won't. stop. being. an. asshole.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:42 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


I am honest to god not sure how Shia LeBeouf's, erm, work can be compared to Andy Kaufman's or even Sacha Baron Cohen's. Are all three provocateurs? Certainly. But Andy Kaufman was an honest-to-goodness comedic genius who took his craft to a scale never seen before in comedy, and Sacha Baron Cohen can be as incisive as a surgeon's scalpel. A drunk surgeon who performs numerous unnecessary surgeries, maybe, but when he's on, he's dead on.

Shia LaBeouf is throwing fistfuls paint at a canvas and asking we appreciate it as art because other artists throw paint at canvas too and it's six of one and half a dozen of the other, right?
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on February 16 [11 favorites]


We've had discussions on MeFi before about the need, for various reasons, to retire the word "douchebag." Can we just call people LeBeouffbags now? Works for me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:43 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


"Beoufbag" has a better cadence to it.
posted by griphus at 12:43 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


That's even better, griphus. Let it be written.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:44 PM on February 16


Yes! I love "Beoufbag." I think we need to work his name into everything. The Dissolve coined the word LaBeoufpdate, which makes me laugh really hard every time I see it.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 12:51 PM on February 16


But what about 'Labeouffary?'

Didn't realize the FPP was going to show a random video; here's the actual Kenneth Goldsmith vs Steven Colbert video.
posted by artof.mulata at 12:53 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


If being a great composer means writing a piece where each musician has the instruction, "Think of a cloud, now play that cloud's music without breathing.", then Yoko is a masterful composer. You don't even need 3rd grade recorder lessons to write music like that. Maybe a season or two of Sesame Street.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:59 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


You know, LaBeouff's attempts aren't my thing, per se, but I appreciate his trying to escape from the straight jacket of Hollywood personality-ing. The fields of acting, writing, and performance art are closely related as a lot of people in those worlds can relate.

One can only suppose that being exposed to a host of creative geniuses, work-a-holics, artistic strivers, and Hollywood weirdos brings revelations about the closeness and overlaps of those fields. LaBeouff attempting to navigate them makes sense and we can applaud him and anyone else trying to improve themselves and make something in this often times ugly world we live in. Even when we don't like it.

As for his fighting, man, I've been deep in the art scene since I was a kid and gotta say... artists fight. There seems to be a propensity towards booze, drugs, lots of sex, and with that plus youth comes the fisticuffs. It might be horrible, but it's true.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:03 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Praise me, I'm chaotic neutral!
posted by JHarris at 1:11 PM on February 16 [8 favorites]


As a bonus, Jerry O'Connell is trolling The Beef super-hard right now and it is very funny.

I am curious if "trolling the beef super-hard" has its own entry on the Urban Dictionary but not curious enough to check
posted by Hoopo at 1:12 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Requesting a Chrome extension that will replace all references to Shia LeBeouf with references to Sleepy LaBeef.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:17 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


Weird, all I see is repeated references to "Followers of Imam Ali Beef" in this thread, and I am so freaking confu--.

OH. Oh. Let me turn off that greasemonkey script.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 1:22 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


My main takeaway here is that at the root Shia LaBeouf is so boring that that an attempt to discuss him at his most attention-seeking spontaneously turns into a conversation about Yoko Onto.
posted by nanojath at 1:28 PM on February 16 [23 favorites]


If it weren't for MeFi, I would've assumed that Shia LaBeouf was an entree at a French restaurant. I'm not sure whether to be grateful, pissed or what.
posted by jonmc at 1:33 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


It is useful to remember that when you're not sure what you think about somebody's art, don't assume that they don't know what they are doing. They might know perfectly well what they're doing. That doesn't mean you have to like it or even think they are doing it right, but sometimes, when something seems bad to you, it's because of your own lack of education, and not the person who made the art.

I am pretty familiar with the artists La Beouff references here, however, and I think I can comfortably say that he has a jejune understanding of what they are doing (especially when it comes to plagiarism), seeming to have simply skimmed some articles online, and so doesn't seem to effectively be engaging in artistic dialogue with either the original artists or the public. His work seems more like a temper tantrum that a troubled, immature artist is justifying by dropping in a few footnotes than a meaningful artistic piece in an of itself.


Aren't you...doing exactly what you said not to do?
posted by threeants at 1:40 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]




The fields of acting, writing, and performance art are closely related as a lot of people in those worlds can relate.

No, they're really not.
posted by Sara C. at 1:54 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


"Beoufbag"

Beouffoon.
posted by GrammarMoses at 2:02 PM on February 16 [15 favorites]


Sara C., why do you disagree? Actors who write their own works. Performance art is not removable from theater, perhaps not even resolvable without theater. The text is an implicit element within theater whether it's written or suggested.

Not getting your disagreement.
posted by artof.mulata at 2:09 PM on February 16


Nah, he's a no talent. At least as a performance artist (or whatever this is) and a filmmaker (where he steals wholesale from other people's work and takes credit). As an actor, I guess he's as good as anyone who has to look at a green screen and go, "Look! Over there!!" That's not exactly him playing Willy Loman; I dunno.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:19 PM on February 16


I'm sticking with Sleepy
posted by thelonius at 2:20 PM on February 16


If it weren't for MeFi, I would've assumed that Shia LaBeouf was an entree at a French restaurant. I'm not sure whether to be grateful, pissed or what.

Yeah, until this thread finally made me curious enough to google him I'd formed the vague impression from metafilter post titles about his previous shenanigans that he was part of Odd Future or something.

Reality: letting me down since 1977.
posted by winna at 2:25 PM on February 16


Actors who write their own works. Performance art is not removable from theater, perhaps not even resolvable without theater. The text is an implicit element within theater whether it's written or suggested.

I think the three fields can be connected, but they are not necessarily connected. And in fact in general not at all connected.

An actor who is also a writer is very rare outside of certain types of comedy.

There is basically zero crossover between the world of a performance artist and the world of a film actor. Likewise the world of a popular-level* writer and the art world.

They're just really really not worlds that someone actually working in any of those fields would consider seamlessly connected at all.

(Also you know that theatre and performance art is not the same thing, right?)

*Making exceptions for artists who are also art historians or have art columns or write monographs.
posted by Sara C. at 2:27 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


I'd also argue that LeBoeuf isn't approaching this gallery show from a place of "performance art and acting are the same thing", but deliberately posturing himself as a Performance Artist so as to escape the consequences of his behavior within the mainstream entertainment industry.

This isn't an Andy Warhol kind of thing, a meditation on the idea of personality, celebrity, performance, and persona. This isn't even an Andy Kaufmann kind of thing, placing Performance Art at odds with something real, authentic, or earnest.

It's just an overgrown child who can't bear the idea of being wrong or disliked.
posted by Sara C. at 2:31 PM on February 16 [10 favorites]


I agree with Sara C. and others who have said this. I wonder, should the art community call him out for it (your fame, money, connections can't simply buy you a place in the art world) or ignore it?
I find him (and charlie sheen and miley cyrus and lindsy lohan and joaquin phoenix) easy to ignore when doing these things, but i find the discussions interesting.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:35 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


No but what you don't understand is that Yoko Ono is an actual artist.

Shia LeBoeuf is just a spoiled child.



I don't know. Shia's parents are both mentally ill. He was the wage earner in the family. Before Even Stevens, his family panhandled in the park dressed as clowns. Then he pretty much took care of them before the age of ten. Growing up like that can be very rough. So if he does annoying, bizarre stuff, well, it doesn't make me feel annoyed.
posted by discopolo at 2:35 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


Having mentally ill parents doesn't make you an actual conceptual artist.
posted by Sara C. at 2:39 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Having mentally ill parents doesn't make you an actual conceptual artist.

True, but it might make you think you are. And he's not hurting anybody. Does it really matter that much?
posted by discopolo at 2:43 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


There is basically zero crossover between the world of a performance artist and the world of a film actor.

AHEMNicolasCageAHEM.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:43 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Of course he's hurting people.

He's hurting artists.
posted by Sara C. at 2:43 PM on February 16


Bah, art always dies.
posted by planetesimal at 2:50 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Well, when you're a guy who grew up with a schizophrenic artist mom and a Vietnam War vet, heroin abusing sex offender dad who pulled a gun on you, and you're in charge of supporting that crew before you turn 10 and spend your spare time going to AA meetings with your dad, you're not going to be making great choices on how to express yourself and you're probably going to be a little weird as an adult. So if it makes him feel better to pretend he's an artist or a chef and that eases his soul, fine by me.
posted by discopolo at 2:52 PM on February 16 [13 favorites]


Not to mention spending a lot of time with Michael Bay in your formative years.
posted by planetesimal at 2:53 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


I just liked the Eric Cantona reference.
Such a great line.
posted by 0 answers at 2:56 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


It's just an overgrown child who can't bear the idea of being wrong or disliked.

I don't know LaBeouff and haven't seen him approach the motives and/or motifs of what he's up to so I don't know how to talk to this statement.

An actor who is also a writer is very rare outside of certain types of comedy.
Clooney. Gibson. Branagh. Penn. Godard. Lee. Stallone. Welles. Gordon-Levitt. Affleck(?). Not that all that stuff is good (to me), but besides Gibson's Jesus tear-jerker, none of it's comedy. There's got to be more.

They're just really really not worlds that someone actually working in any of those fields would consider seamlessly connected at all.
I work in those fields. Miranda July does, too. Spaulding Grey. Bjork. Seamlessly is also a ways from 'closely related' which is what I wrote.

As for performance art and theater not being the same thing isn't the same as saying that they grow from the same pot. Kids studying performance art take theater training. They aren't the same, but they overlap to a great degree. There's a sufficient amount of over lap that we use the same terms to describe the work. Rosa Lee Goldberg?
posted by artof.mulata at 2:59 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


...you're probably going to be a little weird as an adult.

But, again, being an artist isn't the same thing as "being a weird person".

Art is a career. People train for it. People spend their whole lives developing their work.

When people who aren't artists go around using "It's Art, Get It?" as a way to excuse their bad behavior, that is damaging to real artists who are legitimately devoting their lives to a career they're actually passionate about.

The longer Shia LeBoeuf goes on with his stupid pity party, the more he hurts these people and their work.
posted by Sara C. at 3:01 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Before Even Stevens, his family panhandled in the park dressed as clowns.

This story is amazing. Is this true? If it's not true, who wrote it? Originally, I mean
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:02 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


But, again, being an artist isn't the same thing as "being a weird person".

I didn't mean that. What I meant was that you're going to make weird choices. He's doing what he's doing and I don't really think he should be barred from it because he didnt train for it. So he's not a real artist. Big whoop.
posted by discopolo at 3:04 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


My main takeaway here is that at the root Shia LaBeouf is so boring that that an attempt to discuss him at his most attention-seeking spontaneously turns into a conversation about Yoko Onto.

Yes, let's get off of Yoko and move... ono another subject: So far in this thread, in addition to "The Beef" and the like, we have "LeBeouf," "LaBeouff," "LeBeuoff," "LeBouef," and "La Beouff." Can't we do better?

By which, of course, I mean we're still referring to him by his real name far too much of the time.
posted by RogerB at 3:06 PM on February 16


How exactly is he hurting real artists? I think people can tolerate Shia and those other people too. I don't remember this much outrage being directed at Joaquin Phoenix for acting bizarre for a year.

What he really needs is probably a really good therapist to help him stitch that cavernous hole inside of him. I think he just needs help.
posted by discopolo at 3:07 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


How exactly is he hurting real artists? I think people can tolerate Shia and those other people too. I don't remember this much outrage being directed at Joaquin Phoenix for acting bizarre for a year.

Do you understand that he stole an artist's work and called it his own.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:08 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't we just ignore this? That seems like the best response to bad art. Engaging with him just plays into this tantrum.
posted by Area Man at 3:10 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Do you understand that he stole an artist's work and called it his own.

Yeah and he didnt get away with it. He's just dumb. Probably because his parents didnt send him to school regularly enough.
posted by discopolo at 3:10 PM on February 16


Yeah, the Yoko Ono derail isn't much of a derail at all, and it's really disappointing to see such casual dismissals of her work, musical and otherwise. As one of the folks associated with the experimental Fluxus movement, Yoko Ono was altering perceptions of art - and plagiarism - in ways that might seem clichéd now but weren't then. She was an early and much more skilled proponent of exactly the kind of performance art Shia claims he's doing, and it's sad that folks here don't seem to know that. Take a look at Ono's feminist "Cut Piece" from 1965, for one early example; it's the template for Shia's entire current schtick.
posted by mediareport at 3:12 PM on February 16 [16 favorites]


Yeah and he didnt get away with it.

But you don't see that as basically harmful to artists?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:12 PM on February 16


Yeah and he didnt get away with it.

But you don't see that as basically harmful to artists?


How? Economically? Once Shia got caught, it probably gave the artist more attention than he originally would have gotten. It's wrong to plagiarize. No doubt. But he didnt get away with it.
posted by discopolo at 3:17 PM on February 16


Shia claims Kenneth Goldsmith as an inspiration so plagiarism is explicitly not off the table. Goldsmith talks about re-contextualizing from notable primary sources to uncover certain truths. That's art, no doubt about it. Why wouldn't you look at that and say, 'Why not a bigger fish?' And thus Dan Clowes.

I'm not condoning it, but it is easy to see how the concept moves.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:24 PM on February 16


As for it hurting artists, people still love Louie Louie.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:26 PM on February 16


The more people get irate over LeBeouff, the more I find his schtick funny.

I will say that usually the people I see come up with these, "Just crazy enough to be art!" ideas is in the middle of coke binges.

(My girlfriend and I met LeBeouff at a MeFi meetup, where he was coincidentally at the same bar in the Magic Castle.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:29 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Back in the early 2000's, when Shia LaBeouf was little more then a co-star on Disney's Even Stevens I remember occasionally catching the show and thinking to myself "That kid actually has remarkable acting ability." To be watching a Disney sitcom and find that someones acting talent is actually shining through that fact is pretty remarkable. He seems to be the whipping boy for a lot of ire against Hollywood these days. Perhaps its from the strangely lengthy period in his career when he was cast in B parts that were clearly setting him up to take over a franchise (Charlies Angels: Full Throttle, Constantine, Indiana Jones, Wall Street). But when it comes down to it he is still a pretty damn good actor. My favorite performance of his was in Lawless, where he manages to outshine Tom Hardy which is pretty impressive in and of itself.
posted by mediocre at 3:31 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


he is still a pretty damn good actor

I mean, it's possible that I've only ever seen him in shitty movies? I don't think I ever saw Even Stevens, but I just wikipedia'd it and discovered one of the child actors grew up to be someone who was in the remake of Sorority Row, which is certainly not a classic, but she was really funny and I remember her from that even though I saw it like five years ago or something. But the main thing I remember about Shia is nothing; one of the Transformers movies came on TV about an hour ago and it took me a while to realize who I was looking at. He strikes me as sort of the opposite of a standout actor. I would place him more in the Ben Affleck/Orlando Bloom category, I guess.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:38 PM on February 16


I SHAT MYSELF ON PURPOSE YEAH

JOKE'S ON YOU GUYS ACTUALLY
posted by ominous_paws at 10:31 AM on February 16 [15 favorites +] [!]


I thought that was Al Roker.
posted by 4ster at 3:41 PM on February 16


I don't remember this much outrage being directed at Joaquin Phoenix for acting bizarre for a year.

Joaquin Phoenix didn't claim that it was all because he was a performance artist. (As far as I know?)

That is an actual thing. A career. A life. There really are performance artists who actually exist. It's not just a shorthand for "haha lol what a weirdo".
posted by Sara C. at 3:46 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I would argue that in terms of pure acting talent, LaBeouf is better then James Franco. Don't get me wrong, Franco is miles beyond LaBeouf in terms of turning his career/public persona into the subject of an ongoing piece of performance art. But just about every James Franco performance outside of Freaks And Geeks (in which LaBeouf was featured in an episode, strangely enough) is either James Franco playing an over the top pastiche of James Franco (Spring Breakers) or being deliberately awful (the Spider Man films). Things can get wooden and awkward when he tries to do something outside of those two things, as evidenced in Oz The Great And Powerful.
posted by mediocre at 3:48 PM on February 16


Joaquin Phoenix didn't claim that it was all because he was a performance artist.

Actually, he did. After the most bizarre period of his life he up and claimed it was all in the service of a faux documentary that was being made, and that he was publicly portraying a fictionalized version of himself. The fact that the movie was real and actually exists doesn't negate that.
posted by mediocre at 3:51 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


it was all in the service of a faux documentary that was being made, and that he was publicly portraying a fictionalized version of himself.

That's not what performance art is.
posted by Sara C. at 3:57 PM on February 16


But it is a claim.
posted by dogwalker at 4:02 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Not to derail, but all this discussion about conceptual art just reminded me of a David Sedaris quote. He had dabbled in performance art and meth in Raleigh after he dropped out of the art program at his undergrad:

After a few months in my parents' basement, I took an apartment near the state university, where I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these things are dangerous, but in combination they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations.

I guess his dad used to yell out during his performances pieces from the crowd and the audience thought it was part of the act.
posted by discopolo at 4:25 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize I could dislike the plagiarizing, pseudo-intellectual twit any more....

I appreciate his trying to escape from the straight jacket of Hollywood personality-ing.

Except he's doing it as "Look the FUCK at ME being an ARTIST". There's precisely zero style or heart in it (to me). I really hated a lot of what Andy Kaufman did, but holy shit did I understand how transgressive and innovative it was. This kid has all the soul of a Campbell Soup marketing focus group.

Goldsmith talks about re-contextualizing from notable primary sources to uncover certain truths.

Except there's no sense that Shia is "re-contextualizing" anything until it's "oh, shit, I'm totally busted....um...what to do...I'm re-contextualizing, bitches! It's art, yo!".

Does it really matter that much?

Only if you think stealing, brazenly, from less Hollywood connected people who earn a dime as artist matter. Your call. (Cue the litany of rationalizations why stealing from artists is just dandy.)

Yoko Ono

I'm aware she's got credentials out the ass. I'm also aware that as far as I'm concerned she took one look in her navel and kept going until the mass of self indulgent prattle squeezed her right out of this universe. I get that I'm just a philistine, but christ is the vast majority of her stuff is fingernails-on-chalkboard for us peons.
posted by kjs3 at 4:26 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Tehching Hsieh. Inhabiting different personas for a year. If our actions define who we are then Phoenix' activities can be considered performance art.
posted by artof.mulata at 4:32 PM on February 16


Also Liv Young. We're a long way past Carolee Schneeman. (Whom I love.)
posted by artof.mulata at 4:35 PM on February 16


Jeez, am I tired of Andy Kaufman being invoked to excuse any celebrity who's having second thoughts about being an asshole in public. It's as if Kaufman didn't spend practically his entire career playing with his audience's expectations.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:00 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Someone mentioned that Shia is just a brat above, and I just want to point out that he grew up in unsound financial conditions in Echo Park. His father was a Vietnam War Vet, his mom a struggling dancer / artist.

There seems to be a lot of hate on a gut reaction and incorrect assertion. I personally think this is more thought provoking than people are giving him credit for.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shia_LaBeouf
posted by glaucon at 5:13 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I find Shia The Beef entirely uncharismatic on screen and this is likely why I give more credence to James Franco, who also seems more intellectually driven than The Beef.

I think the Yoko Ono derail and the link to the anti-Abramovic site is pretty telling - it's easy to tear down these artists because we don't engage with them very often, especially on the personal in-the-flesh level that Abramovic's work almost always demands. If we had more exposure to this kind of work, then we'd understand it better - and find ways to engage with it.

Why is why I think The Beef's work is harmful - and he's the wrong guy to being doing it. I think once you rise to his level of fame without having anything particularly remarkable to show for it, trying to tear down the concepts of fame as a performance artist just smacks of him being an asshole.

But I always think performance art is better if I can engage with the work without bringing too much baggage to it. If I'm thinking too much about the artist, then whatever they are trying to do can get lost.
posted by crossoverman at 5:20 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Someone mentioned that Shia is just a brat above, and I just want to point out that he grew up in unsound financial conditions in Echo Park. His father was a Vietnam War Vet, his mom a struggling dancer / artist.

This entire thing is happening in reaction to the fact that he got caught plagiarizing Daniel Clowes and is now trying to pull some kind of deep "nuh-uhhhhhhhh!!!!! I'm allowed to be a shit because Art!!!!!" excuse-making.

It doesn't matter if your dad fought in a war. If you behave this way, you're a brat.
posted by Sara C. at 5:45 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of hate on a gut reaction and incorrect assertion.

Yeah. Lots of subjective assertions being thrown around as facts, too.
posted by dogwalker at 6:07 PM on February 16


This actually seems like a good outlet for Shia LaBeouf, who has a lot of fans who'd like to engage with him and is a good/fast talker, with (maybe) some talent for normalizing weird situations (like interacting with a lot of people he doesn't know).

Maybe it's art and maybe it isn't - the paper bag thing is trite but dude seems to not want to rely on his fame or looks in this situation, which fair enough - but really it seems like one of those things where you'd have to be there to judge.

But then I really enjoyed seeing Macaulay Culkin's pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band as well.
posted by subdee at 6:11 PM on February 16


I can't really say I knew him, but I would occasionally run into Shia when he was a kid. We had a couple of friends in common and he either lived or went to school near me. This was sometime during his Even Stevens run, so I was probably around 16 or 17, and he was 14 or 15. The only reason I remember him at all was because he'd made such an impression on me as being an absolute brat. Looking back, his outsized need to be the center of attention may have been an indication of deeper issues, but at the time, I just remember my extraordinary irritation at the little snot. He was obnoxious, arrogant, and desperate for acknowledgement, which, in his defense, lots of teenagers are, but most of us have a chance to grow out of it. I kind of doubt he ever did.
posted by Diagonalize at 6:39 PM on February 16


I know someone who worked in a movie he starred in. She had a ton of "Shia LeBoeuf is a terrible human being" anecdotes.

Working in film and TV I've never heard a good word about him. I wouldn't say I "know" him, but when your reputation precedes you like that, it's not good.
posted by Sara C. at 6:42 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


I think the Yoko Ono derail and the link to the anti-Abramovic site is pretty telling - it's easy to tear down these artists because we don't engage with them very often

Hey now... Yoko Ono's work is supposed to be challenging, far as I know, and I'd be surprised if she's surprised, or much bothered, by ill-considered reactions to it. And I'm pretty sure that there are untold numbers of conceptual artiists and avant-garde vocalists who'd kill for her name-recognition- at least people know who she is to be able to make fun of her, right?

That Abramovic tumblr, though... I don't think you could call it dismissive or whatever... it feels to me like it's done by someone who knows quite a lot about the subject, enough to be amusingly over-the-top about it. You don't get that vitriolic about something without engaging with it somehow, right?

That's not me, though, I don't know much about her, except that she's probably actually an artist, unlike LaBeouf, who seems like more of a bullshit artist. But really I posted the link not just because I'm a philistine, but because I thought it was funny. If there's a difference there.
posted by hap_hazard at 6:42 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Working in film and TV I've never heard a good word about him.

Working in film and TV WITH him, I've heard and seen plenty of good things about him. He is a hardworking actor. He makes his call times. He shows up prepared, rarely needs to look at his pages. He is courteous to the people behind the camera. All this other shit is just about what I expect to occur to almost any young person sucked through the Hollywood fame machine. Some believe their hype more than others. But you keep pumping out your rumors and innuendos to buttress your hatred of the guy. Classy.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:51 PM on February 16 [13 favorites]


Every word you people spill about the invalidity of Shia LaBeouf's art/life weakens your argument.

James Franco is perhaps, indeed better at this, or maybe just more aligned to your niche ... dude's got a good schtick going, I could call it ahead of time that there would be Franco references here.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:01 PM on February 16


But you keep pumping out your rumors and innuendos to buttress your hatred of the guy.

Wow, and I thought I was being classy by not actually repeating some of the things I've heard.
posted by Sara C. at 7:04 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I personally think this is more thought provoking than people are giving him credit for.

Can you explain what thoughts this provoked for you? I'd be interested to hear.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:09 PM on February 16


Wow, and I thought I was being classy by not actually repeating some of the things I've heard.

So you seem to think that just inferring that you've heard terrible things about him instead of telling these second-hand stories is somehow different? It's really not. I can only speak to set time spent with him, where he is a very easy to work with actor. I don't know about these off-set antics, because I don't follow that. But then again, I didn't bring up his behavior in his professional career as an actor as some sort of personal vendetta derail.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 7:36 PM on February 16 [11 favorites]


(This isn't the first time in recent weeks that someone has said) give it a rest, Sara C.? We get it; you don't like the guy.
posted by ambient2 at 8:28 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Shia LeBoeuf is just a spoiled child.

Just like that fucking John Lennon, and his shit about 'bigger than Jesus'. Just dismiss that fucker.

And Picasso? Those "Ladies of Avignon" or whatever? Load of bullocks. Just a scream for attention, really.

Don't even get me started on Carlin, that stupid git. What are all these 'artists' trying to prove, anyway?
posted by Twang at 8:40 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Shia claims Kenneth Goldsmith as an inspiration so plagiarism is explicitly not off the table. Goldsmith talks about re-contextualizing from notable primary sources to uncover certain truths. That's art, no doubt about it. Why wouldn't you look at that and say, 'Why not a bigger fish?'

Plagiarist!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:05 PM on February 16


Yes, Twang - Shia LeBeouf is JUST LIKE John Lennon, Picasso and Carlin. He's really a combination of all those people really. It's uncanny.
posted by crossoverman at 9:34 PM on February 16 [7 favorites]


Purposeful Grimace, sounds like you have some direct experience with the man. Care to elaborate?
posted by cman at 9:34 PM on February 16


Purposeful Grimace, sounds like you have some direct experience with the man. Care to elaborate?

As I said upstream, I have worked on TV and movies with him. His behavior on set was what one would expect (and want) from a young professional. He was never late for his call time that I can recall. He knew his lines when he showed up. He never had a tantrum that I observed. I had worked with him when he was still a child actor with a guardian and I later worked with him as a young adult. Very ego-free on set. I cannot speak to his off-screen persona because I've never witnessed it. That's about it, and I would have never spoken up about this until someone chose to derail into his professional life with innuendo.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:45 PM on February 16 [10 favorites]


Purposeful Grimace, looking at the letter of your statements, it is possible for both you and Sara C. to be right. Sara C. admitted right off that her knowledge comes second-hand. There is no need to take it personally.
posted by JHarris at 11:27 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Dear ChurchHatesTucker, I am no plagiarist. I am a thief.
posted by artof.mulata at 12:19 AM on February 17


Yoko Ono's art was great before she met Lennon. It was even pretty good when she was in a bag and all that stuff. But despite going to fancy music school and having a piano-playing dad, here she is explaining the entire history of western music while sitting next to John Lennon:

"Classical music was basically 4-4 and then it went into 4, 3, 2, which is just a waltz rhythm and all of that, but it just went further and further away from the heartbeat. I went to see the Beatles’ session in the beginning, and I thought, Oh well. So I said to John, “Why do you always use that beat all the time? The same beat, why don’t you do something a bit more complicated?"

Like I say, love the art, but her music is beyond redemption and it's not hard to see why Paul and George were not that keen on her.
posted by colie at 2:20 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]




Purposeful Grimace, looking at the letter of your statements, it is possible for both you and Sara C. to be right.

Not really. Sara C. was pretty clearly implying that he's notorious in the industry for being an insufferable and unprofessional asshole on set. If that rings no bells with AND is directly counter to the experience of somebody who actually has worked with the guy professionally on multiple occasions, then Sara C.'s second hand gossip can't actually be "right."
posted by yoink at 7:04 AM on February 17 [9 favorites]


I don't particularly like Yoko's work (though some of it is actually pretty good pop music, for the values of 'pop music' i was imprinted on), but i've never thought of her as a fake. Abramovic annoys the shit out of me -- but also clearly not fake. And has the (literal) scars to prove it.

LaBeef, though, just triggers my bullshit detector big time.

Which it strikes me is an interesting problem, because in Frankfurtian terms, art is basically distinguishable from bullshit only insofar as the artist thinks they're promulgating Truth, which is something we as observers can never actually know. Even if they tell us.

Maybe LaBeef is a fraud. Maybe he's the hapless product of a bad childhood. (Not mutually exclusive categories, of course.) All I know is that "art" is far too rarified and privileged a term. Art is nothing more or less than the act of making sense of the world. We all do it every day. The only thing that clearly and distinctly separates Abramovic from some guy standing on the street corner pretending to preach about Time Cube is reach.
posted by lodurr at 7:06 AM on February 17


If that rings no bells with AND is directly counter to the experience of somebody who actually has worked with the guy professionally on multiple occasions, then Sara C.'s second hand gossip can't actually be "right."

No, not really. Different people have different experiences of ... different people. I've worked professionally for many years, and I know a lot of people through my professional network. Some are regarded as wonderfully easy to work with. Some are regarded as jerks who are impossible to work with. Some of those are the same people.
posted by lodurr at 7:08 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


No, not really. Different people have different experiences of ... different people.

That's a different point. PG is not speaking just to his personal experience with SL, however, but also to his general reputation in the industry. Certainly there are people in my profession, say, who I may hear bad things about, but which I've never witnessed personally: but that doesn't mean I'm unaware that other people have problems with them, or that they have this reputation in the profession. PG is saying that it is false that SL has this reputation in the profession, not simply "well, he's always been fine when I'm around."
posted by yoink at 7:12 AM on February 17


"Art" is this weird term that means a lot of things to a lot of different people. I don't append a value judgment to it, personally; whatever Shia's doing can be art, and so can the works of Dan Brown and Stanley Kubrick and Ella Fitzgerald and Uwe Boll all be called art as well. But that doesn't mean this art is all equally worthy of attention. Conversations that lead away from judging art because, like, its value is subjective or whatever all give me that email-from-a-deposed-prince sensation. Just because something's art doesn't mean it's any good.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:15 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


yoink -- thing is, that's not actually something PG can know. It's something s/he can have an opinion on. But then we're down to comparing dick size, basically: who'd got a more legitimate claim on knowing what The Reputation is. And personal acquaintance ought at best to have no bearing on that question (and is arguably a disadvantage).
posted by lodurr at 7:19 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


Sara C. was pretty clearly implying that he's notorious in the industry for being an insufferable and unprofessional asshole on set.

His recent behavior around the Broadway production of Orphans has given him a black mark on his reputation. His behavior on Lawless also was bad enough that co-star Mia Wasikowska tried to quit.

So, yeah, his reputation for professionalism is a bit mixed at the moment.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:35 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


wow, that quote from baldwin that appears to have set off laBeef is really...um...reasonable:
You go out in the garden and you plant the seeds and you grow it…it's the opposite of film acting. It's a much more intensive and kind of thoughtful process.…And there are people who that's just not their thing. So for those people who I think it's not their thing, I'm not really interested in their opinion of it.
I mean, as Alec Baldwin quotes go, that's practically kid gloves.

As for Wasikowski -- it's a von Trier flick, so that opens a whole 'nother can of worms. A woman starring in a von Trier flick is just about guaranteed to not have a fun time of it, even if her male costars are consummate gentlevolk [though, given that they're men in a von Trier flick, that's probably unlikely].
posted by lodurr at 9:21 AM on February 17


Lawless wasn't directed by Lars von Trier, but I would definitely watch a Lars von Trier version of Lawless.
posted by dogwalker at 9:40 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


i got confused and thought it was about nymphomaniac.
posted by lodurr at 9:48 AM on February 17


Can you explain what thoughts this provoked for you? I'd be interested to hear.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:09 PM on February 16


The reactions to this performance or project or whatever you want to call it are fascinating to me. You have people lining up excitedly to see the freak show - to pay money to be in the room. You also have observers who are passionately against the entire project and person, who vocalize their disgust or irritation pretty aggressively. You have people who are arguing it's worth looking at and thinking about. You have people who don't really care.

I don't know what to say other than it's interesting to me that it's so important to people - most interesting regarding the passionate anti-crowd. I am guessing previous movies and projects featuring LaBeouf barely registered with the anti-crowd. And I am surprised, to some degree, I'm not as passionately against it as I would expect.

Maybe this is coherent, maybe not. To me, this project (debatable name for it, but what else could this be called?) is a fascinatingly abnormal response to someone getting caught doing wrong. We get so many people in our society who try to control their messaging and fake apologize after an incident, and there's so much insincerity to it. We know the politician who got caught with hookers, or coke, or both isn't really sorry. We know it's his team of advisors who told him this is his last chance at saving his job. He's just sorry he was caught, and the apology doesn't mean anything.

And, at the same time, it's weird that we care so much. People make mistakes, but as a culture we trot out the sinners for a public bruising in this carefully choreographed dance of group judgement and performance regret.

We all know the script for the inauthentic act of public contrition. But the script has changed in this case, and the debate and passion about it is incredibly interesting.
posted by glaucon at 10:06 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Shia's increasingly unhinged "off-set antics" over the past few years - the drunken fights in restaurants and bars, screaming "I know people who can have you killed" while folks have to hold him back, etc - seem pretty obviously related to his "performance" of the last few months (and to things like reportedly pulling out his own tooth and refusing to shower for weeks on the set of the Brad Pitt WWII movie Fury). It all has the very standard look of a rich young actor swirling down the addiction rabbit hole with no one around to stop him. Getting caught plagiarizing was just the latest trigger for more late-night drunken freakouts, Twitter meltdowns and bizarre attempts to deny being famous while clamoring for more attention; there's nothing particularly new or interesting going on here, but it does seem odd to separate the on- and off-set antics at this point, and hard to argue that his good behavior as a teenager is much relevant.
posted by mediareport at 10:13 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


James Franco playing an over the top pastiche of James Franco (Spring Breakers)

I'm pretty sure that was directly aping RiffRaff, who was supposedly even contacted by Harmony Korine about being in the movie. I don't think it was ever meant to be about James Franco.
posted by Hoopo at 10:45 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Thanks, glaucon. I'm in the "don't really care" camp but I was interested to hear what artistic value others were seeing.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:33 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


James Franco playing an over the top pastiche of James Franco (Spring Breakers)

I think you mean (This is the End).
posted by cell divide at 11:41 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that was directly aping RiffRaff, who was supposedly even contacted by Harmony Korine about being in the movie. I don't think it was ever meant to be about James Franco.

He was "aping" Dangeruss, who's in the movie. And, even if he wasn't meaning to portray an extremely heightened version of himself, it definitely can be read that way. After all, he does have shorts in every fucking color.
posted by dogwalker at 12:20 PM on February 17


As for Wasikowski -- it's a von Trier flick, so that opens a whole 'nother can of worms. A woman starring in a von Trier flick is just about guaranteed to not have a fun time of it, even if her male costars are consummate gentlevolk [though, given that they're men in a von Trier flick, that's probably unlikely].

Admittedly, the only Lars von Trier movie I've seen is Antichrist, but ... I don't know that I'd characterize the events of the movie along those lines. That was kind of bad for both parties involved but Willem Dafoe definitely had the worst of it.
posted by kafziel at 12:26 PM on February 17


I had the weird experience this last year of having the actual cannibal at my AT for my guard unit.

We were on the road and then as we got to our first sleep destination we were told there was to be a brief.

Long story short: We were gonna be having that kid from those transformers movies doing all our training with us. Please try and respect him and treat him like any other soldier. Don't tell anybody until he's done here and don't take pictures unless you ask,

This was a weird idea to me as I spent some of my younger years watching a lot of Even Stevens.

Initially I didn't buy it and figured this was some kind of joke.
Even after people started mumbling here and there "Hey, you seen LaBeouf yet?"
It was just too absurd to me to accept this was an actual thing.

Eventually I walked down to the smoking area to find our chaplain ruminating on something with a group of younger soldiers. While I'm not of our chaplain's denomination, he's a pretty wise and accepting man so it's good to listen in. It wasn't anything important or even notable, but I remember piping up because I wanted to play foil to someone's line of questioning. I started going, did the usual taking of a drag for dramatic effect and then turned to look at folks in the group to see who was paying attention. Only the chaplain and one other guy was. I paused before exhaling because that other guy was evidence that this wasn't a joke. The person I had paid attention to on TV was now looking at and paying attention to me with no glass, no CRT, no cable line, no nothing to separate us. Just a pair of eyes looking at me with some consideration while wearing the same rank and uniform I was. The only real difference was his name on the uniform wasn't his own.

It happened a few more times here and there, whether at chow exchanging a few pleasantries or anything else like bumming a smoke and asking advice on some small matter from a Sgt same as I would. I will say it seemed like the guy was really dedicated to whatever he did. I watched him run laps at almost a sprinting pace for almost an hour and a half. I watched him volunteer for another mock mission right after he got back from one covered in grime and dust. Sadly I didn't get to observe more than that on account of being involved in very different aspects than he was. He seemed pretty genuine in demeanor too.

I also watched how the people that tried their best to be his friend were some of the worst of the bunch, people that were in it because "Hey I get to buddy up with someone famous!" and had to listen to one guy who was a total shitbag rant about how they were now the best of friends after talking at chow. I'm sure there were some good people in there but all I could think after the first few days was how much of a burden that had to be. How awful it would be to not be able to be normal and have to deal with the suspicion that people might not want to be your friend and always have people sucking up to you. I can see that having a weird insulating effect on how you view yourself and that has to make things hard to keep in perspective.

I have a lot of respect for the people that did their best to treat him as a normal person and from what I could gather he was not that much different from anybody else I've been in uniform with. Hell, I'd say that from what I saw that in some ways he embodied a lot of the values I have respect for in the realm of soldiering than a lot of other people do. Of course, I had to think for a while, is this just who he is or is this the character he's playing while he's here?

Worse yet, if this is what you've been doing for most of your life, where does ones-self and other-self separate? Who are you when you've spent the majority of your life playing a part? While I'm sure that's some heavy thoughts he's run across himself, it's not my concern and I have to hope he's presenting himself as authentically as he can. I figured the best I could do was just take him as presented, just another Joe.

The bummer part of the story: Eventually someone fucked up and decided to either sell or post pictures online. I never found out which. I do know it was in the same little smoking area I happened to be in earlier and if I had been able to remember who was standing where and when I could have probably told you who did it. From there I got to watch as his attitude entirely changed from relaxed average guy to pissed off and almost starting a fight with someone when they walked up with their "I'm going to smile and be charming so this person will like me" bullshit. Naturally this soldier-celebrity said he didn't want to talk. It sounded like things escalated a little but I treated it as I would anything else and left when I finished my meal. The last I saw of him before he left was someone storming past me full of hurt and anger, like a kid who keeps getting picked on and doesn't know who to trust.

What I took away from it: Celebrity is a weird space to occupy, especially when you don't know any other life. Sure as hell not one I'd want to occupy.
posted by ThrowbackDave at 12:37 PM on February 17 [16 favorites]


"Admittedly, the only Lars von Trier movie I've seen is Antichrist, but ... I don't know that I'd characterize the events of the movie along those lines. That was kind of bad for both parties involved but Willem Dafoe definitely had the worst of it."

Everyone should see Zentropa (called Europa in Europe), which is one of the best WWII movies I've ever seen, all about an American during Germany's post-war reconstruction trying to work out who the former Nazis and Nazi collaborators are (which are called "werewolves" in the movie). It's straight-out fantastic, and something I wish was more widely available.
posted by klangklangston at 2:04 PM on February 17


How does Joseph Gordon-Levitt compare? I've always thought of JGL as doing a better job than Shia in terms of playing the young twenty-something everyman, as he brings a level of style and maturity, despite often playing characters who are immature and selfish. Shia on the other hand just comes off as yet another twenty-something Hollywood leading youth who is supposed to be average and relatable but comes off as being annoying.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:05 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


i can't really think of a role where Shia has been asked to play anything other than the fast-talking, think on your feet kinda a-hole that he plays.
JGL on the other hand has shown pretty good range. JGL also engages very well with his fans and the paparazzi, and hasn't shown me a petulant side.
I'm not a very invested observer, however.
I would pay to see a JGL film on his name alone, and won't say the same of SLeB
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:22 PM on February 17


Everyone should see Zentropa (called Europa in Europe)

The first and last Von Trier film I really liked.
posted by crossoverman at 3:00 PM on February 17


This thread is great because somebody used the word jejune in real life.
posted by glasseyes at 6:25 PM on February 17


what could they possibly have done in this situation that he wouldn't have mocked?

Tony Benn - respect.
posted by glasseyes at 6:28 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


trying to work out who the former Nazis and Nazi collaborators are (which are called "werewolves" in the movie)

Odd. Werwolf referred to the counter-occupation plan of Gobbels, which never got traction.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:23 PM on February 17


Not that anyone would really care but I thought this clip where Selena Gomez meets him---he was very sweet to her even though she got flummoxed and ran away. He seems like a sweet, kinda not quite of this time person. I think it's cute. And he always seems the same guy on talk shows and in print interviews. Trying to be self aware, not being intelligent enough to do so, burdened but maintaining that he's fine and handling it.

And you can tell David Letterman likes him and thinks he's a genuine enough person. He's an asshole for what he said about Megan Fox, but at the same time, it seems he'll have to gain the emotional maturity and intelligence at a much slower pace than those of us who were fortunate to be socialized better and educated better and don't have to house our abusive, drug addicted, flashback-having dads in our garages. (And I really think it boils down to who you have as parents---I always say the difference between Natalie Portman and Lindsay Lohan (both from LI, both super talented, but Portman's dad was an endocrinologist and mom an artist who gave Natalie the ability to value education and were actually protective of their daughter, and LiLo's parents just okayed her getting a boob job at 16 and dropping out of high school to earn money for the family and then continued to milk her fame---and she's still loyal to them!) is pretty much that LiLo got a bum deal on who her mom and dad are---- she got two royal screw ups and moochers. Shia's situation sounds far more damaging. And he probably isn't all that intelligent or self actualized. Maybe that's what having a lousy childhood and crazy parents does to you. So if he wants to put a bag on his head and weep, God bless. I don't doubt, given his history, that he has something to cry endlessly about. I know I would if I were him.

He was pretty great in Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, if I remember. Hope he gets therapy and gets better at understanding himself and gets all the right guidance (not Jon Voight or Scientology or whatever else), so he can keep out of trouble and on the straight and narrow.
posted by discopolo at 8:01 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


Odd. Werwolf referred to the counter-occupation plan of Gobbels, which never got traction."

The wikipedia article actually mentions Europa and gives more detail. The movie's a bit magical-paranoiac, and uses Operation Werewolf as a great jumping off point.
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


He was "aping" Dangeruss, who's in the movie.

So he says, but it distresses me to think there are 2 people on earth that look and act like Riff Raff does. His look was more Riff Raff to me, but the location and backstory sounds more like Dangeruss.
posted by Hoopo at 9:29 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


some interesting examples have been proposed of young actors playing in the performance-art space, and how seriously we take each of them. Just looking at young men, we've got Shia LaBoef, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, & James Franco, and there are some interesting differences there. Shia had moderate success as a teen/child actor and broke out big as an adult playing teens; Franco broke out big as a teen/younger adult actor; JGL had some big celebrity as a child/teen actor, then disappeared for a long time until he managed to claw his way back into the consciosness of casting directors by virtue of his own skill at self-promotion.*

So, one obvious difference: JGL was unfamous before he became famous again. So he's got really rather different pressures on him, and those are probably going to induce different behaviors.

Franco is harder to parse without getting into relative values of quality, but for me the biggest single factor is that as fatuous and self-absorbed as James Franco can be, he knows he's doing that. And he can make it funny.

Put another way: Franco is fun to watch. Shia LaBoef, not so much. Good actor? Maybe, I don't know and I'm not sure I can tell based on what I've seen him do. Franco, though, is definitely a gifted comic actor, at the very least.

Is Franco an artist? I have no idea. I've read the reports like probably everyone else here that either laud or mock his NYU degree. All I know is that, while I probably wouldn't choose to see a movie based on his name, I sure wouldn't avoid it (as has usually been the case for me with, say, Ethan Hawke). Pretty much the same goes for LaBoef -- though he's just so forgettable for me that I have a hard time remembering he was in movies that I've seen. That never happens with either Franco or JGL.

--
*I don't mean this as an insulting term. JGL has been pretty clear about this, and it should be obvious that self-promotion in the form of making your own short films is also inherently work on craft and not bullshit-work. He's just following the example of successful craftsvolk like Paul Thomas Anderson and many others over the years.
posted by lodurr at 10:31 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


... and this is before you even start talking about Joaquin Phoenix. I had zero emotional investment in his collaborative performance art stunt. But the guy has done some really wonderful acting, and I'm inclined to cut him a break on potentially unwise performance-art choices for that.
posted by lodurr at 10:33 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


So, one obvious difference: JGL was unfamous before he became famous again. So he's got really rather different pressures on him, and those are probably going to induce different behaviors.

Another thing worth noting, in comparing Franco, Levitt, and LeBoeuf, is that James Franco actually went to grad school in between acting jobs. So it's a little more understandable that he would be writing novels, dabbling in the art world, etc.

For those guys, it feels like they have interesting side projects because they actually enjoy creative endeavors. For LeBoeuf it all feels like PR damage control.
posted by Sara C. at 10:45 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Doesn't feel like damage control at all, to me. More like creating damage to see how others view him. it's interesting to watch.
posted by agregoli at 12:22 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


yeh, it's impossible to know, but to me it LOOKS more like what agregoli suggests.

i read an interview w/ JGL some years back about some short films he was making at the time and he was frank that it was a combination of boredom and a need to get his name out there. Boredom is a fine motivation for art, AFAIAC, BTW.
posted by lodurr at 1:32 PM on February 18




From the Franco piece:
As an actor, you are often in the uncomfortable position of being the most visible part of a project while having the least amount of say over its final form.
That, I think, is very profoundly true and must mess with your mind in all kinds of ways.
posted by yoink at 9:28 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


the franco piece was interesting in a bunch of ways, not least being how it weaseled around on things. you get the feeling he'd really like to say something bout it, but won't -- and i sort of think that's what he was going for. And it left me wondering: does franco actually have something else to say about this, or did he just want us to think so?

in a way, i read the franco piece as showing off -- as a way of saying "see, kid, THIS is how you mess with their heads."
posted by lodurr at 11:07 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


I read his piece as being much more compassionate. He seems to think LaBeoff is going of his gourd, and understand why that might happen, but hopes it is a mediocre art project instead.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:45 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Franco's built a lot of his brand on deconstructing his own celebrity, so I suppose that's probably why I see these other layers.
posted by lodurr at 1:35 PM on February 21


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